Sephora.fr

PARIS — Sephora France is spinning its web strategy in a new direction, now launching some beauty brands exclusively on sephora.fr that haven’t been introduced in its stores countrywide.

The reason for the approach is twofold, according to Stephane Delva, marketing director for Sephora Europe and Middle East. “There is a growing appetite from our consumers, who are more and more connected through their smartphones and have an increasing view on what’s hot outside of France. So we really want to feed their appetite for new, exciting brands and products,” the executive explained. “The second reason is more of a business objective, which is we have a strong will to accelerate our e-store, and this is definitely a source of opportunity.”

A specific team of merchants was created to focus on such offers. “They are really searching the web globally for what are the hot and growing brands in terms of excitement,” said Delva, adding also of interest are items and labels to fill some new product segments at the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned chain.

“For instance, hair is a category for which we don’t have a lot of space in our stores today,” Delva said. “So we will expand our assortment. Tools is a category that we definitely want to bet on for this extended assortment.”

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Among the beauty brands introduced online since August with the “Exclu Web” appellation, which appears under the product information listed online, are Tweexy, the wearable, ring-like nail-polish holder coming in three bright shades; Bye Bye Racines, the temporary hair-colorant sprays for concealing roots between color treatments, and Nudestix, the makeup line focused on easy, natural beauty. Other labels include Eugene Perma, BaByliss, Bronz’Express, Color Me and Hapsatou Sy.

“We were out of stock in two weeks,” said HCS general manager Chiara Sormani, referring to the skin-care brand she founded, FaceD, boasting immediate results.

Becca Cosmetics in early September launched on sephora.fr some of its bestsellers exclusively in France, then at the end of that month introduced the Becca x Jaclyn Hill palette in the retailer’s brick-and-mortar doors there.

“It’s a good way to keep momentum and buzz going,” said Kerry Cole, global style director at Becca. “It’s kind of like this slow rollout. So people are itching for more.”

Online exclusives upcoming in November are labels such as Steamcream, whose formula is made with an 18th-century French steam technique to fuse together 12 ethically sourced natural, hand-blended actives. The skin-care products with a light texture come in limited-edition tins with eye-popping graphics.

The Percy & Reed hair line is on the docket, too. Its directors laud Sephora’s Internet strategy. “Who doesn’t shop online now? And if you have the added bonus of education, how-to’s and imagery that we’ve been working on, it’s incredible,” said Adam Reed, a founding partner and director of the label.

While Sephora France’s exclusive online program today registers just a small percentage of sephora.fr’s overall sales, it is a growing share and — importantly — allows the retailer to test how brands are received and bolsters its visibility on social networks, since those products address a savvy consumer. “When they are successful, we can launch them after in brick-and-mortar stores,” Delva said.

A case in point is the Dafni brush that straightens tresses, which was debuted on sephora.fr. “It was such a huge success on the Internet that now it will hit our biggest doors in Europe,” she explained. “The most successful [stockkeeping units] will go to all of our countries.”

The executive said sephora.fr is a good platform for selling a wider range of some of the most successful brands already found at Sephora, as well. The retailer already sells exclusives online in markets like the U.S. “The sky is the limit” to what can be done with the strategy, according to Delva.

Meanwhile, she points to how sephora.fr keeps bulking up other services. Right before summertime, for instance, it debuted a section called The Beauty Board for photo sharing. “It’s fed by our consumers, and also by some of our beauty advisers in the stores,” she said. “It really gives a face to the community.”