By  on July 24, 2014

By 2017, the Internet will influence 60 percent of all retail purchases, and L’Oréal USA Professional Products Division is looking to do something about it with its latest partnership.

On Tuesday, the beauty giant and StyleSeat, a free Web and mobile platform that lets salons and stylists run and grow their business, will collaborate to help support L’Oréal’s network of salon owners and stylists through every aspect of conducting their business. The platform helps stylists track their clients and book appointments, and showcases stylists’ work with an online portfolio.

“[This collaboration is] an opportunity to look at the way salons engage with consumers,” said Pat Parenty, president of L’Oréal USA Professional Products Division. “Looking at the way consumers have changed in their path of purchase and the way they get their products and services, we thought that something was missing. The issue was a little bit behind in engaging at the digital level.”

The partnership will be utilized in two phases and will include L’Oréal Professionnel, Kérastase, Redken, Matrix, Pureology, Shu Uemura Art of Hair, Mizani and Essie Professional. Starting Monday, L’Oréal will customize the existing tools on StyleSeat. It will add its branding, profile badges and a variety of other elements to the site so that they have brand representation.

The second phase, which launches late this fall, is e-commerce. L’Oréal Professional Products Division and StyleSeat will offer salons their own mini sites so that they can sell directly to their clients.

“[The Web site] is powered by L’Oréal and we do all the heavy lifting,” said Sarah Liang, assistant vice president of e-commerce and digital strategy at L’Oreal USA Professional Products Division. “We handle the shipping and the packing so they don’t have to worry about UPS labels or boxes in salons. At the end of the day, the salon gets a commission.”

Parenty added, “Most [salons] don’t have the capacity, capability, infrastructure or the money to develop a strong, active and professionally orientated e-commerce business.”

Until now, L’Oréal would not allow other companies and businesses to sell its professional products online.

“We know that stylists want to sell product online, there’s just technical challenges and barriers that are stopping them from that,” said Melody McCloskey, founder and chief executive officer of StyleSeat. “At the same time, we know that consumers’ patterns and purchasing habits have changed and that they want to purchase product online and that it’s not always convenient to go into the salon.”

McCloskey noted, “[StyleSeat] has powered over $500 million in appointments. Today, we have over 250,000 stylists and salons in over 15,000 cities in the U.S. [Stylists] can grow their revenue by 68 percent in their first year using StyleSeat.”

To market the initiative, L’Oréal is encouraging its stylists and salons to sign up for free at Styleseat.com/salontools. For the e-commerce component, the company is coordinating outreach efforts through e-mail and online with all of its brands.

According to industry sources, L’Oréal has put in an investment of $2 million for its collaboration with StyleSeat to link salons and clients.

“We want to make sure that [salons] have a solution digitally,” said Parenty. “Because it’s not just e-commerce, it’s about what it is to have a really digitally engaged consumer. [We want to help] them meet the new needs of the marketplace.”

Parenty declined to discuss sales projections. However, industry sources said the L’Oréal Professional e-commerce component could do $4 million to $5 million in sales in its first year.

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