GERMAN BEAUTY GIANT GOES ONLINE

Byline: Melissa Drier

Frankfurt — Germany’s leading beauty retailer, Douglas, went online Wednesday with Douglasbeauty.com, an information and shopping Web site.
Jorn Kreke, chairman of the board of the Douglas Group, based in Hagen, Germany, unveiled the beauty Web site at the opening here of Douglas’s largest perfumery. The five-floor, 32,000-square-foot space is also part of the first Douglas lifestyle house, “Zeil in Style,” which combines four Douglas retail operations: Douglas Parfumeries, Appelrath-Cupper (women’s wear), Pohland (men’s wear) and Christ (jewelry).
Both the lifestyle house and the beauty site represent Douglas’s commitment to a multichannel retail strategy, which Kreke said offers “the best opportunities for future business.”
The first-year budget for the 400-page German-language Web site is in “the double-digit millions” of marks, according to Douglas officials. It currently offers about 700 products for sale, primarily from exclusive Douglas brands such as BeYu, Annayake and Baratti, although fragrances can also be purchased from Laura Biagiotti, Giorgio of Beverly Hills and Dolce & Gabbana.
By fall, Douglas plans to be able to e-tail more than 12,000 products.
This will require a change in Europe’s selective distribution regulations. As a disclaimer on the site advises e-shoppers, “Unfortunately, you can’t get all the articles at Douglasbeauty.com that you can in our Douglas Perfumeries. We working with the industry and the EEC Commission to broaden the existing contracts to include internet.”
Claus Mingers, a Douglas board member responsible for the perfumery division, is confident the changes can and will be effected. “We are in discussions with the entire [beauty] industry to allow authorized dealers to broaden the [selective distribution] contract to include Internet sales.”
What Douglas has in mind, he explained, is “to develop Internet distribution that’s selective and operates according to the same criteria as in the stationery business. That is, with service, consultation via call centers and so forth,” he said.
Douglas said the site had the potential to reach almost a million new customers in Europe. Operating 500 domestic doors and 200 outside Germany, Douglas has a customer base of about 38 million. More than 1.7 million have the Douglas Customer Card, and the company noted, given “the 35 percent of Douglas customers that already use the Internet…there’s an enormous potential for Douglasbeauty.com.” An English-language site is planned sometime in the future, said Ines Creemer, director of e-commerce marketing and purchasing.
While Douglas could not say how many hits the site has had to date, more than 2,500 people did register for Douglasbeauty.com’s 500 Euro-shopping competition on its first day of operation.
The site offers a broad range of information that is sometimes, but not always, tied to product selections. For example, in women’s fragrances, under the heading Classics, there’s a photo time line with descriptions and the history of some of the most long-lived scents on the market — none of which are currently for sale at Douglas online.
The active-minded can click onto Fit for Fun and learn how to shape up in the water with Aqua Gym. Under Wellness, Douglas offers tips on how to create a spa atmosphere in one’s home bathroom or make the most of outside pampering at the Douglas Beauty spa in Bremen.
The basic online columns offer information on trends, fragrance, skin care, makeup, products for him, gift ideas, boutique, overview and product search, plus a newsletter, special online greeting cards and a forum for consumer-to-consumer communication and advice from outside experts.

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