Beautystat.com founder Ron Robinson is certainly thinking big.
This story first appeared in the October 25, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
With the goal of becoming the “Google of beauty,” Robinson’s site, which had been primarily based on social networking and blogging, will be relaunched today with a host of new features, including e-commerce capabilities.
“What our consumers have been telling us is that they want an easy way to comparison shop and that nothing is more frustrating to them then when a favorite product is out of stock,” said Robinson, a 20-year beauty-industry veteran who has worked at firms like the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. and Avon Products Inc. “We are making it much more easy to find availability, price comparisons and are adding a personalized content piece.”
According to Robinson, the site’s new e-commerce component connects consumers with personalized product recommendations through a proprietary algorithm. In addition, the more a consumer uses the site the more products and reviews will be tailored towards the user.
Beautystat will also now allow users to become members by creating personal profile pages to bookmark favorite products and articles. As far as the look goes, Robinson said it will have Pinterest-like “visual impact and less text for an easy user experience.
“We have created a search and discovery retail site,” he said, adding that brand partnerships cover mass, specialty and prestige brands, including Olay, Murad and Too Faced Cosmetics.
With a lineup of retail partners like Macy’s, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Birchbox, Amazon.com, Nordstrom and Sephora, Robinson said talks are under way with additional chains including Ulta, Bloomingdale’s and Target. “We heard from our [retail] partners that ultimately they are looking to grow incremental sales — they want new customers and they want to grow their online business, and what we are doing with the new platform is to bring them new users and drive traffic to their online sites,” he said, adding that his site has about 200,000 monthly unique visitors, and expects “well over a million” by the end of 2014. “There are sites like this for technology, consumer goods and fashion, but no one has done it for beauty yet.”
As compared to the estimated $500,000 in first-year revenues when he launched the site in 2009, Robinson said by the end of 2014 he anticipates generating $5 million from retail commission, advertising and sponsored content, and providing market research and consumer insight.
Looking to the future, Robinson said he is seeking out more niche brands and international brands from dynamic beauty markets like South Korea.