NEW YORK — The rumblings of a burst Internet bubble may have subsided but one Web services provider, a four-year-old firm called Web Collage, is gaining steam — while aiming to enhance prestige beauty retailing in cyberspace.
With beauty clients that include Chanel and the Estée Lauder Cos. —?and which generate an estimated 25 percent of its total revenues — Web Collage is expected to double its 2002 revenues and reach $4 million in sales by yearend, according to estimates.
When Chanel went live this summer with an online boutique on lotte.com, the e-commerce site of South Korean retailer Lotte, it was the latest of seven online retail partnerships that Web Collage helped establish for Chanel. The beauty brand first went live with Web Collage on macys.com for the holiday 2001 season. Chanel’s subsequent online retail partnerships include saksfifthavenue.com; sephora.com; Germany’s douglas.de; the U.K.’s boots.com; and Galeries Lafayette’s lafayetteboutique.com.
Here’s how it works: Web Collage supplies beauty vendors with software that allows the vendors to customize content that’s to appear on the e-commerce sites of retail chains. This content appears in real time on the retailer’s site — looking much as it would on the vendor’s own site. For example, visitors who go to “Chanel” on, say, sephora.com see a presentation fashioned by the vendor — and because everything is contained on sephora.com, the retailer registers the sale.
This is in contrast to direct selling by the vendor, which Chanel, Clarins and Lauder, for example, do via the companies’ two-year-old venture, gloss.com.
Chanel is expected to go live this month with another U.S.-based retailer. Though executives from both firms were mum on details, industry sources indicated Nordstrom is likely to be Chanel’s next partner.
Web Collage chief executive officer Eli Singer contended that the main point of difference is the final look. Retailers typically use a common template when selling products online, according to Singer, so picture links and text descriptions — provided by the vendor then rebuilt by the store on its site — usually represent the extent of the visual experience, “a catalogue-like presentation,” as Singer said. In contrast, Web Collage’s platform is designed to provide “a more advanced page of animation — very complete and rich content,” Singer claimed.
“It’s a way for retailers to represent vendors in a much better way,” he said, and “a way for vendors to control the brand outright, [to create] a branded experience.”
A recent visit to retailer sites revealed that Chanel was highlighting its Jeans de Chanel eye shadow on douglas.de and lafayetteboutique.com; its Base Lumière makeup on saksfifthavenue.com, and its Lumières Facettes eye shadow on boots.com.
Lauder has deployed Web Collage for two brands, Estée Lauder and Clinique, with four international retail sites. Lauder reportedly plans to deploy Web Collage for its MAC Cosmetics brand in the U.S.
Other Web Collage clients include Hewlett Packard, Cisco, Sun and Microsoft. Outside of the 25 percent of sales generated by its two beauty clients, Singer estimates that half the Web Collage business comes from consumer electronics and high tech clients, while the remaining quarter of the business comes from financial institutions. The firm is eyeing Clarins, Dior, Fossil and Coach as potential new clients.