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Zalando Gets Physical With Beauty Station in Berlin

The e-tail giant’s first beauty store mixes products and services in a sophisticated, uncluttered atmosphere.

BERLIN Zalando, Europe’s largest online fashion e-tailer has opened its first brick-and-mortar door for its newest product category, beauty.

Not counting Zalando’s four existing outlets stores, the new Zalando Beauty Station on Weinmeisterstrasse in this city’s trendy and store-studded Hackesche Markt nieghborhood is the e-tailer’s first physical store. The 1,700-square-foot space officially opened Saturday, with M.A.C. Cosmetics, Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., Clinique and Origins brands making their Zalando debuts simultaneously off and online. M.A.C. also offered free makeovers, Clinique sent over a team of skin-care experts, while Estée Lauder took over prominent positioning for the brand’s signature products, be it skin care, makeup or scents.

The Zalando Beauty Station, which is located next door to Acne Studio, features some 53 primarily niche beauty brands from around the globe. However, as Claudia Reth, vice president of specialties (Premium, Beauty, Kids) at Zalando, noted, “We’ll be turning the assortment around [in store] quite frequently.”

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The focus is on makeup and skin care, but that could include anything and everything from Berrisom masks to “Geek crazy lab” products from 11 Village Factory, BOD Mermaid Gel, Pestle & Mortar serums, I Want You Naked peelings, James Read tanning products, Mai Couture blush or blotting papers, The Gypsy Shrine glitter pots, L:A Bruket body and hair care, Son + Park beauty water, Pixi by Petra makeup. Like the online beauty assortment, the Berlin store also encompasses a premium selection from brands such as Bioeffect, Christophe Robin, Codage, Dr. Dennis Gross, Emma Hardie, Rodial, Sachajuan, Tan Luxe and as previously mentioned, Estée Lauder.

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In terms of physical set-up and assortment, the store is designed to be flexible. Most modules and display tables are easily movable to make room for temporary pop-ups, and three hanging oval shelves, filled on one side and mirrored on the other, serve as a mobile room divider with a distinctive Auntie Mame flair. One stationary feature of note is an ultra-long concrete sink, so that “people can try on the products and wash them off,” Reth explained. An even more elongated table in the back, which can be taken apart and moved as needed, is geared for tutorials, treatments and quick fixes like express makeovers and manicures. “It’s not so easy to find a place that’s a mix of product and services,” Reth commented.

A composition in gray and assorted shades of white, the space mixes industrial and sleek design elements, while the corrugated back walls bring to mind the packaging inside beauty product boxes. Branding is surprisingly low-key, with no logos or names splashed above or near the shelves which, in turn, are sparsely filled — all the better to let the product design shine. For consumers wishing to know more about the items and brands, there are small cards placed near each brand selection featuring scanning codes through which shoppers can access more information.

Zalando’s online beauty offensive went live in Germany in late March, and now encompasses 150 brands offering almost 5,000 products. Reth said one “big surprise” coming out of this launch period was “that our best-selling products are more trend or niche than what we hear from other players. It was good to know we were moving in the right direction from the start.”

She noted that 70 percent of Zalando’s beauty orders “are mixed with fashion. Shoppers go [to Zalando] to buy fashion and see we have beauty, which then becomes an add-on.”

One important online beauty sales driver is Zalando’s “Shop the Look” feature, which integrates beauty products. “People like the convenience of one-stop shopping,” she remarked. Conversely, the new Beauty Station is expected to help generate key content and stories for the online shop.