Byline: Janet Ozzard

NEW YORK — With the launch of Elizabeth Arden’s Web site, parent company Unilever has taken its first step into beauty e-tail.
The site, which went up May 15, offers a full line of the beauty company’s makeup, skin care and fragrance products. And while many beauty sites these days have information components, the Arden team said they put a lot of effort into creating a service-oriented Web site.
The site wasn’t always for selling, said Leslie Barber, vice president of U.S. marketing. “When the site was initiated, it was for information only, to give the consumer information and as an extended training arm for sales associates,” he said. “But as we got closer to the launch date, it became very apparent that the opportunity to do retail from this site was there.
“This is not designed to replace department stores,” he added. Rather, it’s to augment Arden sales in areas not served by other channels of distribution, and to give the consumer the kind of information she might get from a well trained sales associate.
Although the site has already had orders come in from Alaska, the executives are anticipating shoppers from urban areas as well, particularly since Arden is offering free delivery.
“There’s something to be said for the convenience factor, especially if you just want to see what’s new without going into a store,” said Barbara Siska, director of business development. In tracking customers who have already ventured onto the site, she said, Arden has seen heavy traffic midday and late at night.
“That tells us women are checking out the site during their lunch hour or in the evenings after work,” she said.
To promote the new site, Arden has done a deal with MSN and will have banners on 15 of the network’s channels. The overall look of the banners will reflect Arden’s global campaign; the text in them can be tweaked to reflect a new product or a hot seller, said Barber.
The site was designed in-house, using Unilever’s creative consultant group, Project 9X. Visitors can take a quiz to help figure out what their fragrance personality is. On the makeover part of the site, a visitor is guided through a virtual makeover. By clicking on the closest skin, hair and eye colors, she can see Arden’s suggestions for the best tones to achieve different makeup looks, from natural to seasonal to dramatic.