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Exploring The New Beauty Counter

Three cutting-edge companies on how emerging technologies and digital platforms are transforming social and e-commerce shopping.

At WWD’s Digital Beauty Forum, Peter Philipp Wingsoe, chief executive officer international and president, retail & partnerships at Flip; Bryan Moore, CEO and cofounder of TalkShopLive, and Alex Perez-Tenessa, CEO and founder of Trendio, sat down with Jenny B. Fine, executive editor of beauty at WWD, to discuss how their platforms and technologies are disrupting beauty retail and e-commerce. For the group, common themes came up throughout the conversation including the importance of frictionless access, opportunities for discovery and authenticity. 

China took the world by storm with its wildly successful livestream social shopping approach, which was estimated to reach $423 billion in sales in 2022 and had 265 million unique users in 2020, according to McKinsey & Company. 

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Now, platforms in the U.S. are aiming to create similar experiences for consumers and opportunities for discovery through livestream and social shopping. 

Flip, which has been on the market for a little over a year, has proven the success of the model outside of Asia. Philipp Wingsoe described the app as a “marriage between TikTok and Amazon,” where users upload/view video reviews and shop beauty products. He noted that Flip currently has 800 brands, including NuFace, Youth to the People and Supergoop, and is expected to reach $400 million in sales. 

Flip launched as a response to the diminishing influence and consumer trust of major content creators due to sponsored content and brand deals. Flip flips the concept on its head and brings real customers to the forefront. In fact, if a brand were to pay influencers to create content on Flip, that would be a violation of the company’s policies and the brand would be banned from the platform. 

“We wanted to create something that was more authentic, more real,” Philipp Wingsoe said. “On our platform it’s real shoppers… The people who are doing the reviews are actually people who have purchased a product and want to share that experience with other customers.” 

While this approach creates a platform for discovery and authentic reviews, Philipp Wingsoe said the ease of purchase was essential, especially in the age of Amazon Prime’s two-day delivery. Therefore, when a consumer makes a purchase on Flip, the items are packed within an hour and shipped the same day. Philipp Wingsoe said the value proposition of a speedy shipment is just as important as the actual cost of the product. 

As the platform continues to expand, Philipp Wingsoe said the livestream shopping market is a multibillion-dollar opportunity. He noted some brands on Flip were expected to do seven figures in sales in January on the platform. While smaller brands have historically participated more on the platform, Philipp Wingsoe said they have seen more interest from larger brands, as the opportunity continues to grow. 

Similarly, TalkShopLive aims to make the shopping and discovery experience more convenient than ever. 

“TalkShopLive’s a livestream shopping platform that enables retailers, brands, publishers and creators to truly connect the retail landscape. We’re an out of app experience so everywhere the video player is embedded it’s shopable within the video player,” said Moore. 

According to Moore, the success of the platform can be attributed to the model’s scalability. “It works for any size brand to set up and go live easily and to do it again and again,” he said. It also creates ease across platforms, as it serves a single solution for brands, retailers and publishers to all easily embed shopable videos. This also makes the shopping experience more convenient for consumers, as they can purchase across platforms via video. Therefore, TalkShopLive is able to meet “customers where they consume content” so “they’re more apt to shop,” Moore said. 

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While TalkShopLive spans categories, Moore said beauty is the fastest growing vertical on the platform. 

“We drive beauty sales for all of our retail partners, as well as brands. It’s become a place where the brands are able to connect not only with their customers but also with other creators. That’s where we’re starting to see the value, in building the connection between retailer, brand, creator and publisher,” Moore said. 

Trendio has honed in on the personal discovery aspect of digital shopping, as the beauty and wellness categories have become increasingly saturated and overwhelming for the consumer. Trendio is a video and live shopping platform that gives “customers the experience of personalized advice by leveraging AI and video technology,” Perez-Tenessa said. 

With the decrease in brick-and-mortar experiences and the level playing field of brands on e-commerce platforms, discovery can be difficult for consumers, he said. 

“Beauty is a complex category. It’s science-based. It’s very difficult for a customer today to understand why they should be paying $100 for moisturizer instead of $20 for another moisturizer that’s just a click away. The opportunity is to help customers with discovery,” Perez-Tenessa said. With Trendio, he is focused on bringing “back personalized advice to customers so that they can discover new brands and new products worth trying” through authentic and curated user-generated content. 

While e-commerce has made purchasing products easier than ever, new digital platforms are aiming to reignite discovery and authenticity combined with convenience. 

“We’re talking about the difference between buying and shopping and redefining the future of shopping,” Moore said.