Online footwear retailer Zappos has today launched an iPad app called Zappos Now, presented in the form of a digital lifestyle magazine.

It will be updated monthly, and allow users to shop directly from the app with free next business day shipping with no minimum order value.

The app has been available to download since December 8th, and within this first week or so, Zappos has seen the average user spend over 40 minutes reading the magazine.

The app also includes sharing features that allow users to share the articles and products they view with others right from the app.

Will Young, Director of Zappos.com in San Francisco, said that this presents an opportunity to ‘wow’ customers with something new.

I think people expecting this to be a shoe catalogue will be pleasantly surprised to see it is actually an exclusive editorial fashion and lifestyle magazine.”

The inaugural issue features a report on colour trends, an interview with Zappos.com stylist Brooke Hyden, a feature on online fashion community LOOKBOOK.nu, as well as information on travel destinations, current style trends and a holiday gift guide.

Zappos is not the first to create magazine style content for the iPad, or rely on an editorial edge to differentiate itself, so perhaps this isn’t quite the ‘new’ idea that Zappos thinks it is. Net-a-porter launched an identical offering in July 2010, with great success. ASOS did the same a year later in August 2011.

However, the concept is still new enough to be appealing to consumers, particularly when considering the bonus of free shipping on any order.

Plus, we all know how effective a print catalogue can be (54% of consumers use them at least once before making a purchase) – and transposing this onto a mobile device allows users to act immediately if they see something they want. 

Zappos is renowned for great customer service, and combining this with a visually exciting offering onto a tablet could be really successful.