MAKEUP AND INDIE BRANDS SPUR CYBER SALES

Byline: Kerry Diamond

NEW YORK--The beauty e-tailers that burst onto the scene last year have survived their first holiday season. According to many Internet executives, sales exceeded expectations and there were no major technological glitches.
These retailers, however, weren't immune to the fulfillment issues that plagued major sites like Toysrus.com. Some vendors had trouble filling their reorders from the sites, and certain Internet vice presidents found themselves packing boxes at their distribution centers in the days leading up to Christmas.
There were also a few surprises. Color cosmetics was the best-selling category, rather than fragrance, which is traditionally the strongest category during the holidays. Also, independent brands outperformed mainstream ones.
Many vendors said they were thrilled with their sales on Eve.com. According to Mariam Naficy, co-founder of the site, holiday sales were very strong. "In the first 10 days of December, we did as much business as we did for the whole month of November," she said.
Eve.com's best-selling category was cosmetics and its best-selling brands were Benefit, Club Monaco, Elizabeth Arden, Philosophy and Urban Decay. "Color is easy to present attractively on the site," she said. "We're working to present fragrance in a more compelling manner."
At Sephora.com, chief executive officer Jim Kenney said he was pleased with the sales results and the response from customers. "Our best-selling category was color, which surprised us," he noted. "We were disappointed in the penetration of fragrance. We're going to see what we can do to strengthen that area."
The Sephora.com e-gift certificate, for purchases on the Web site only, was the best-selling stockkeeping unit. Sephora.com's best-selling color lines were Benefit, Urban Decay, Club Monaco, Hard Candy and Pupa. The best-selling treatment lines were Healing Hands, Ahava, Cellex-C, Bloom and Caudalie. The best-selling women's fragrances were Gucci Rush, Fracas, Tocca, Anna Sui and Lolita Lempicka.
Roger Barnett, ceo of Beauty.com, was pleased with the site's holiday results. The best-selling brands were Face Stockholm, Calvin Klein, Shu Uemura, Fresh and Elizabeth Arden. Cosmetics sales were slightly higher than fragrance sales, a fact that Barnett attributed to the site's relationship with Kevyn Aucoin, the celebrity makeup artist. Aucoin is featured prominently on the site and has a cult following among makeup junkies.
At Gloss.com, color, treatment and fragrance performed equally well, according to Richard Dickson, vice president of merchandising.
The best-selling brands on Gloss were Philosophy, Dirty Girl, Demeter, Tony & Tina and Ramy Beauty Therapy. "What we're seeing is that brands with fun graphics and copy drive consumers to buy," Dickson said.
Ibeauty.com, the site formerly known as Fragrancecounter.com, saw the number of holiday orders increase 41.2 percent over last year, according to a spokeswoman. The number of orders received the week before Christmas jumped 77.8 percent.
The best-selling sku's were Philosophy's Miracle Worker, Tom Girls' Beauty Parlor Night Kit, Elizabeth Arden's Green Tea set, Philosophy's Rainbow Connection Bubble Bath for Adults and Elizabeth Arden's Blockbuster makeup set.
At Beauty-scene.com, skin care was the best-selling category, said Barbara Kotlikoff, chief operating officer. "We're seeing a very strong skin care and color business," she said.
The best-selling brands were Shu Uemura, Yon-Ka, Bloom, Valerie Beverly Hills and Cellex-C.
Kotlikoff said Beautyscene's partnership with Flooz.com, the site that offers online currency to spend on specific sites, was quite successful.
At Beautyjungle.com, "sales more than met our expectations," said Lars Kree, vice president of marketing. Customers responded to the site's gift guide and to the Lafco Kimono soap gift- with-purchase promotion.
Bestsellers here were Philosophy, Revlon, Fresh, Bloom and 5S. "Color and skin care were our two strongest categories," he said.
At Ingredients.com, the best-selling sku's were Orange Blossom bath and shower gel, Green Tea lotion, Grapefruit Body Contour Bar, Vanilla scent spray and Chamomile shampoo.
Ingredients.com also distributed samples through three online retail partners, Girlshop. com, Ibaby.com and Bluefly.com.
The e-tail sites operated by individual brands reported strong results as well. According to Angela Kapp, vice president and general manager online division for the Estee Lauder Cos., Clinique.com's holiday sales were triple those of holiday 1998.
Clinique Happy was a bestseller. Holiday sales on Origins.com, which launched last August, accounted for almost 64 percent of the site's sales-to-date, said Kapp.
As for the indie brands, Demeter.com was up 80 percent over last year's holiday period. Jerrod Blandino, an owner and creative force at Too Faced Cosmetics, said his company's Web site had its best month ever in December.
"I can't even turn my computer on," he said, "so this whole Internet thing is amazing to me."

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