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Net-a-porter is adding another leg.
This story first appeared in the March 15, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Having already expanded into men’s wear and the off-price market in addition to its core women’s wear, the global e-tailer is now moving into beauty with the launch March 20 of The Quintessential Edit. The offering will include brands such as 3Lab, Aesop, Beauty Works West, Chantecaille, Ilia, James Read, Joya Ames Soeurs, Le Métier de Beauté, Natura Bissé, Philip B and Sarah Chapman.
“The proposition is really where the beauty-meets-fashion aspect, and we see it as so symbiotic with the rest of our offerings. As we’ve developed our content, beauty is such a big part of fashion,” Alison Loehnis, the company’s managing director, told WWD. “As we started to expand it was a disconnect to not be able to offer beauty. By being at the front lines, we have an enormous amount of insight and exposure to talent and also product.”
Spanning makeup, hair care, skin care, nail polish and fragrances, items range from Chantecaille’s $35 lipstick and gloss hybrid Lip Chic to $500 Joya Ames Soeurs solid perfume. Philip B’s luxe Russian Amber Imperial Shampoo will retail for $140 and a Le Métier de Beauté antiaging complex for $125.
The Quintessential Edit will live on the netaporter.com site rather than on a separate one, and David Olsen will serve as vice president, beauty at the site. Loehnis explained that it’s not a new business — just a new category — and this was a deliberate decision on the company’s part.
Although the e-tailer has “strong aspirations,” to hit aggressive sales targets, there are no plans to become a stand-alone beauty destination, Loehnis said, noting that Net-a-porter will always first and foremost be a fashion business.
She acknowledged the large number of players already in the beauty space that are excelling online — citing Sephora and Blue Mercury as examples — but insisted that Net-a-porter’s approach is different. The beauty selection was born from the site’s content and commerce approach, and the index will always be kept tight and rolled out gradually.
Loehnis believes the integration of fashion and beauty is “the most interesting part,” as consumers are coming to the destination in search of an entire look. For her, it’s important not to separate beauty because it’s part of the head-to-toe look.
“It’s so interesting because we have this panel of just under 10,000 customers that are superusers who provide us with amazing insight. Beauty is the chart topper without fail,” Loehnis said, adding that the top categories customers have asked about the past three years are men’s, beauty and children’s wear. “We’ve known this, and hearing it from customers again and again was additional encouragement.”
Next week, Net-a-porter will unveil translated Web sites in Mandarin, French and German. The site has already maintained customer care and a support team across 22 languages (the e-tailer sells to 172 counties), but on Tuesday it will be the first time the majority of the site will be multilingual.
“It’s fascinating operationally to see how things do get easier, and from a customer perspective to see what’s moving and to see what people are responding to and when. I’ve been surgically attached to the screens and Net-a-porter Live,” Loehnis said, adding that the company opened its third distribution center in Hong Kong on Thursday.
The Hong Kong center will improve express delivery times by about one day, and will also allow shoppers from Hong Kong, Australia, China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, India, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam to transact in either Hong Kong, Australian or U.S. dollars.