Amazon is looking to indie brands to grow its beauty category sales, and has introduced a series of programs to engender them to its platform.

The e-commerce giant has not always had a cohesive beauty strategy, but two years ago began to piece together a strategic vision for the future, hoping to bridge the gap between its strongest asset — online reviews — and the fact that 70 percent of consumers prefer to make beauty purchases in-store, said Justin Boettcher, senior strategic business development leader, Amazon Beauty. “A lot of brands don’t realize that customers review feedback online and then make the purchase in-store,” said Bottecher, who noted that Amazon generates a massive amount of reviews per day. “When I built this slide, there were 12,000 reviews on product from just the day before.”

But purchase isn’t always immediate — Bottecher said it can take about 11 days from when a customer starts searching or a product online to actual purchase. And while Amazon’s 31 million active cosmetics customers may go to the site to read reviews, he said only 14 million are making a purchase on Amazon directly.

To bridge the gap, Amazon is hoping that promoting indie brands and encouraging them to support their presence will help drive its beauty business, and launched its Indie Beauty platform in 2018. “That program is really a monthly refresh where we feature, engage and spotlight them on Amazon,” Bottecher said. “We really do the heavy lifting in terms of marketing and customer service.”

Some of the benefits include Amazon-facilitated collaborations with influencers, “to really get these brands in front of the influencers [who may not have heard of them],” Bottecher said.

Amazon is also doing targeted sampling using its own data.

“With Amazon’s new sampling program you can actually surprise and delight customers based on demographic and prior product selection, allow them to make a purchase and get a sample box in the mail,” Bottecher said. “We provide data on that sampling from pre and post engagement.”

There are also live and physical activations. For example, Amazon Live, which streams beauty when customers can shop live on Amazon by watching streaming beauty content from Amazon’s studio in New York. “Treasure Truck” is another program — “a physical experience where you get a [text] on your phone, that a product is being activated in your market and you can go experience it,” Bottecher said.

Amazon is also helping indie brands on the back end. The brand registry program is a third-party site within Amazon that allows brands to control their intellectual property on Amazon. Brands who sign up for the registry, even those who do not officially sell on Amazon’s marketplace, are able to control elements of their brand presence such as product photos and descriptions. With the brand registry, Amazon helps with the removal process of things like incorrect product names and information, and there is even a database where brands can preventively enter correct information in case a third-party seller posts something false. Boettecher called it “proactive brand management.”

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