Amazon Revamps lndie Beauty Platform And Promotes lndie Beauty Product Deals

Amazon has overhauled its lndie Beauty platform less than a year after its launch.

On the heels of the world’s largest e-tailer revealing it took cues from rising beauty players to develop its own skincare brand Belei, Amazon is signaling its continued commitment to the indie beauty segment by premiering a revamped Indie Beauty digital shop and promoting indie beauty brands on Amazon Today’s Deals home page, its second most trafficked page. The lndie Beauty section showcases brands like new entrants {Save} Skincare, Allyoos, MZ Skin, Jack Henry, Luca Wellness and Zag6rska across a wide swath of beauty categories, including natural, men’s, haircare, skincare, fragrance, and color cosmetics.

“I love the concept of bringing awareness of these small brands to such a large audience,” says Michele Zagorski, founder of hemp-driven skincare brand Zag6rska. “lndie brands are priced higher than mass-produced products because they are manufactured on a much smaller scale, sometimes even by hand in micro-batches such as mine, and I appreciate that Amazon doesn’t expect these smaller brands to compete on price, which would be impossible. Amazon can be a powerful driver of business if its algorithm is understood and taken advantage of.”

The modified lndie Beauty website has a bold, unfussy look that calls attention to emerging beauty brands and their stories while presenting clear navigation tools to direct customers to the merchandise categories they want to explore. The previous site had a dreamier conceptual design that might have been tricky to sort through. Last year, prior to the June arrival of the lndie Beauty platform, Amazon detailed eligible brands had to be at least 50% owned by an independent operator. The company takes 15% on sales of products in its Marketplace, where brands sell directly to customers and lndie Beauty is located, and brands have to pay a monthly fee of $39.99.

Clean haircare brand Allyoos has launched on Amazon’s lndie Beauty platform. Other new entrants on the platform include {SavelSkincare. MZ Skin, Jack Henry. Luca Wellness and Zag6rska.

Amazon’s indie beauty push comes against the backdrop of its inability to draw several leading prestige beauty brands (think Chanel, Dior and Estee Lauder) into its realm. By cultivating small brands now and familiarizing them with its style of commerce, it could become the online home of the Chanels, Diors and Estee Lauders of tomorrow. Chris Shipferling, owner of Robert & Pearl, a consultancy that aided clean haircare brand Allyoos’s Amazon listings, asserts, “I think they’re right in taking on brands like Allyoos because it brings them into the fold. They say, ‘You sell on our platform, and we are going to put gas in the tank for you.”‘

One way that Amazon puts gas in the tanks of indie beauty brands on the lndie Beauty site is appointing them a contact inside its vast enterprise to steer their onboarding processes. Karen Hooks, founder of the Luca Wellness, says, “We have experienced amazing support. Their team of experts have really helped ensure that we are on the right track.” On top of the Amazon support, Allyoos founder Samantha Denis, Take My Face Off founder Amanda McIntosh and Zagorski recommend indie brands invest in an Amazon expert outside of the e-tailer to assist with Amazon ins and outs.

“I think they’re right in taking on brands like Allyoos because it brings them into the fold. They say, ‘You sell on our platform, and we are going to put gas in the tank for you.”‘

“I am thankful I was guided every step to get my brand on board lndie Beauty, and there is no question it would have been an impossible task without the help I received from my Amazon contact, but it has been difficult to gain traction once on,” says Zagorski. “lndie Beauty may be a smaller pond, but there are much bigger fish with deeper pockets in this pond that a micro brand is still competing with to reach potential customers. Since it’s only been a few months, I’m hopeful that as I learn how to use campaigns and advertising effectively, I’ll start seeing an increase in visibility that will lead to more sales.”

McIntosh warns indie beauty entrepreneurs to carefully vet the consultants they secure for their Amazon endeavors. “It takes a lot of oversight and knowledge. Most small brands are going to have a hard time with their Amazon listings. We have managed it ourselves as well as hired other people to do it for us. Beware – a lot of people want to handle it for you, and they’re usually very expensive and not very competent,” she says. “The contractor we hired wasn’t terrible, but it was definitely not worth the money. I guess we’re luckv since I’ve heard about much worse. You have to find someone who has both the Amazon knowledge and a detailed understanding of your product’s market.”

The tanning brand Baja Bae has sold out three times on Amazon.

lndie Beauty site participants report mixed revenue results from their short tenures on it. Jack Henry founder Kyle Bardouche says his clean men’s brand will double or triple its sales this year if the success it’s seen in just three weeks on the platform persists. Jack Henry is shifting its focus from lnstagram, a social media network that has catapulted many influential beauty brands, to Amazon in response to the early sales strength. Tamarin Oblowitz, co-founder of tanning brand Baja Bae, shares, “We have sold out three times on Amazon and are just restocking for the fourth time. We absolutely love the Amazon platform…Baja Bae has done extremely well.”

Take My Face Off hasn’t been as fortunate. The cleansing mitt specialist has found Amazon to be a tough beast to tame. “Even with the additional help from Amazon, selling on their platform is incredibly complicated, difficult and time-consuming,” says McIntosh, adding, “Our product probably isn’t the best fit for Amazon because most people come there with a very specific idea of what they want. The more ‘conventional’ your product category, the more straightforward your Amazon experience will be. We see some evidence that people who hear about us from a press item or an influencer choose to buy us on Amazon over our website. We don’t think many people are discovering us through Amazon.”

“Even with the additional help from Amazon, selling on their platform is incredibly complicated, difficult and time­ consuming.”

Ellie Trinh, founder of Skin Probiotics, closed her skincare brand’s Amazon selling account in February following eight months of frustration. During the period it was live on Amazon, Skin Probiotics generated $60 in sales and ranked dismally in its search engine. “In the end, I spent over $1,000, and I saw no promoting effort from Amazon for lndie Beauty as promised,” she says. “I think I am tech competent. I help build, and 100% maintain and update my Shopify store myself and still had a hard time with Amazon. I think Amazon is a better fit for larger more established indie brands, but challenging for new and smaller indie brand with limited human resources.”

Amazon may not be a fit for all indie beauty brands and, within Amazon, not all sections may be a fit for certain beauty brands. Luxury Beauty and Professional Beauty are other Amazon beauty sections. Vanessa Kuykendall, vice president of business development and partner at brand protection firm Market Defense, says, “If a brand is generating a lot of buzz on social media, then the customer may already be looking for their brand on Amazon, and the need to be included in a curated area is not as high. If a brand opens up their own account and strategically invests in advertising that will help them convert that customer who’s already searching for them, they can do without one of Amazon’s curated areas. That’s why the Amazon question truly is unique for every brand, and they should really do their homework.”

Jack Henry’s sales on Amazon’s lndie Beauty platform have been strong so far. If they continue as they have for three weeks, the clean men’s brand will double to triple its sales for the year.

External considerations weigh on indie beauty brands’ Amazon decisions as well. Traditionally, beauty retailers haven’t been keen on brands being present on Amazon, mostly out of fear their products would be discounted as a consequence and their brand reputation diminished. But Denis believes beauty retailers aren’t as worried about Amazon as they used to be. “I shop at the Credos and Goops on the weekend, and I walk to stores in the city [of New York], but I also shop in Target. I shop on Amazon,” she says. “The lines are so blurred now that I don’t think of brands any less if they are in a mass retailer like Target or if they are on an online platform like Amazon. The convenience means so much more to people these days. If something takes more than two days, we are rolling our eyes.”

By: Rachel Brown

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