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Skyn Iceland’s Sarah Kugelman Thinks Big

The independent skin-care company's founder talked about the role “competitive benchmarks” have played in developing her desired digital flagship.

Sarah Kugelman

Skyn Iceland president and founder Sarah Kugelman thinks big even though she runs an independent skin-care company.

This story first appeared in the February 28, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

After creating beauty site Gloss.com in 1999 (it was sold to Estée Lauder the year after), she founded Skyn in 2005 — what she calls “a solution for stressed skin.”

Kugelman talked about the evolution of her brand’s Web site at Skyniceland.com over the past nine years, and the role “competitive benchmarks” have played in developing her desired digital flagship. A key learning was the separation of content from commerce — something she originally hoped to weld together in one place. Also, free shipping was implemented into the e-commerce experience after she found out that 39 percent of beauty shoppers are moved by this feature.

“We want to get people into the brand by visually showing and enticing them. All of our key ingredients are from Iceland —and a lot of the imagery we use is about purity of Iceland and the environment,” Kugelman said.

“We try to be keen about looking for inspiration and looking at best practices. I find Josie Maran inspiring — you want to learn more and be a part of it. A big takeaway is making it personal.”

She also cited La Mer’s visuals and Clinique, taking its best practice of customizing skin care online.

“It’s hard to figure out digitally what your skin type is, and what product is best for you,” Kugelman said. In addition to customization, cross-selling to the customer and really trying to shape the content to personally match each shopper is paramount.

She revealed that site sales were up 18 percent in the past year, unique visits up 58 percent and page views up 52 percent. She credits this to a focus on e-mail blasts, an active social-media presence, responsive web design, emphasis on a strong promotional calendar and learning what your customer responds positively to.