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Online Beauty Sales: Online, on Fire

With a 6 percent share amounting to nearly $3 billion, data from the NPD Group shows online sales constituted a sliver of the total $43 billion U.S. beauty

ONLINE, ON FIRE

With a 6 percent share amounting to nearly $3 billion, data from the NPD group shows online sales constituted a sliver of the total $43 billion U.S. beauty market last year. But that slice is getting larger. NPD reports online beauty sales inched upward 1 percent in the past year while beauty sales in all other retail channels shrank. Here, five online retailers that, like Luckyscent, go beyond the run-of-the-mill.

 

SPALOOK.COM, PALM BEACH, FLA.
OWNER: SANDOW MEDIA – LAUNCH YEAR: 2001

Spa owner Marcia Lane sold Spalook.com to Sandow Media, publisher of NewBeauty and Worth magazines, in late 2007. Sandow immediately revamped the look to make the site more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing. More than 100 brands are available; bestsellers include Obagi, Pevonia, Sothys and Archipelago Botanicals. The site has paid particular attention to at-home beauty devices such as those by Tända, Baby Quasar, Omnilux and NuFace. The average purchase is more than $100. Spalook.com has a partnership with plastic surgeon Greg DeLange, medical director of Estetica Institute in Palm Beach, in order to sell active skin care products distributed in spas and doctor’s offices.

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B-GLOWING.COM, PORTLAND, ORE.
OWNER: LISA JAMES – LAUNCH YEAR: 200
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B-glowing.com is the brainchild of Lisa James, a beauty junkie who segued into Internet retailing from advertising because she wanted to showcase independent brands for her fellow junkies to enjoy. About 50 brands are available, with Butter London, Kai, Mixed Chicks, Voluspa, Crazylibellule & The Poppies, and Shea Terra Organics among the bestsellers. Fragrance is the leading category followed by bath and body. James says her customers, who are largely between the ages of 25 and 48, regularly shop weekly or monthly, and business has been up year-over-year. The average purchase is $70.

BEAUTYEXCLUSIVE.COM, SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF.
OWNER: STEFANO GIOVANNONI – LAUNCH YEAR: 2001

Beautyexclusive.com has grown out of aesthetician Stefano Giovannoni’s closet into a firm with 10 full-time staffers and 35,000 square feet of warehousing. According to Compete.com, the site garnered nearly 12,000 unique visitors in April. Leading categories are bath and body and skin care. The Web site sells 72 lines; Archipelago Botanicals, Luxe Paris, June Jacobs, Rene Furterer and Naturopathica are bestsellers. Every item sent is gift wrapped with citrus tissue paper and a satin ribbon.

SKINTERRA.COM, SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.
OWNER: KATHERINE MEDINA – LAUNCH YEAR: 1999

Skinterra bills itself as “your personal skin care clinic.” Visitors can fill out a skin analysis questionnaire or use an interactive shopping assistant feature to pinpoint their needs and the products that will address them. The site has about 40 brands, with iS Clinical, MD Skincare, Ole Henriksen, Clarisonic and Talika among the bestsellers. Antiaging is the top category. Katherine Medina says Skinterra gets 5,000 to 6,000 hits a month, and 30 to 40 orders a day. An average order is $100, and the prototypical customer aged 35 to 55.

SKINBOTANICA.COM, SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
OWNER: INTER MARKET GROUP – LAUNCH YEAR: 2008

In a few short months, Inter Market has built Skinbotanica.com’s selection of natural and organic products into one of the largest online, says Sam Alexander, chief marketing officer. The site’s audience has swelled as a result, from less than 60,000 unique visitors in April last year to nearly 100,000 in April this year, according to Compete.com. Skinbotanica.com is home to some 50 brands, with Weleda, Suki, John Masters Organics, Eminence and Dr. Hauschka among the bestsellers. Inter Market also owns SkinCareRx.com and Apothica.com; the average purchase on all three sites runs about $100.