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Feelunique’s Cross-Border Beauty Strategy

Contact Author Jeb Gleason-Allured, Editor in Chief, Global Cosmetic Industry
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Thirteen years after its founding, U.K.-based Feelunique is taking its foundational principle—“everyone should have access to beauty, regardless of where you are, who you are, and how much you can spend”—and expanding it across the globe. Shipping to more than 120 countries, the ecommerce platform is poised to help brands cross borders.

“Feelunique is a truly cross-border platform,” says Joel Palix, CEO. “We have an unrivalled choice of products and brands to offer our customers and an extensive international millennial customer base to offer our brands.”

Bridging the Physical Retail Gap

Feelunique, which declares itself “the biggest online retailer in Europe”, featuring more than 32,000 products from more than 500 brands from around the world, has worked to bring a level of personalized service to consumers to bridge the gap between digital and physical retail.

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Learn more about Feelunique in: Live from London: Beauty’s M&A Craze

This includes algorithms that make relevant product discovery easier, shopper programs such as Pick 'n' Mix sampling (allowing consumers to try five items, just paying the delivery charge), Feelunique Unlimited, a subscription-based next-day delivery service, and Subscribe & Save, a loyalty program which offers 10% off a brand of the consumer’s choice—for life.

Feelunique believes its point of difference is its ability to help brands story-tell on the platform, creating a distinct point of entry.

The “brand for life” concept builds loyalty with platinum-level shoppers, while sampling programs like Try Me sets keep consumers engaged with new brands.

“Innovation is central to our success in ensuring we are at the forefront of online beauty," says Palix. "As the beauty market is a segment of retail with relatively low online penetration, innovating in order to transition consumers from physical to digital shopping is paramount to our strategy. Experiential events allow Feelunique to connect with consumers in person and for those shoppers to try out new products and brands."

Keeping Consumers Engaged

Feelunique believes its point of difference is its ability to help brands story-tell on the platform, creating a distinct point of entry. The retailer has partnered with Pinterest and Vogue for the 2018 Vogue Beauty Awards.

It has also leveraged Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and other tools to reach out to consumers in innovative ways. YouTube allows beauty consumers to search tutorials and reviews.

Soon, Instagram TV could offer a similar resource for the retailer, brands and consumers. Feelunique has partnered with a social sharing platform to encourage user-generated product reviews and photo uploads. These offer real, organic, unfiltered and honest feedback that can build trust with shoppers.

More recently, Feelunique launched the Spark Beauty program with the Indie Beauty Media Group, which allows Feelunique’s customers in the United Kingdom to purchase products from an initial curation of a dozen North American independent brands on a new, permanent section of the retailer’s site. Participating brands include Cannabliss, Clove + Hallow, Le Prunier, No B.S., O’o Hawaii, Ogee, OY-L, Pistache, RealHer, Reina Rebelde and Teadora.

Feelunique has also helped brands like Anastasia Beverly Hills to connect their brands to its consumers, especially outside the United States.

“China is an important market for us, one in which we have been very successful in demonstrating our abilities as a cross-border e-tailer and which provides a solid foundation from which to extend our reach in Asia."

The company says skin care and supplements are currently trending, in line with the wider industry. At the same time, Feelunique is pursuing more on-trend brands, exclusive products, and brands that satisfy the uptick in searches for natural products, specific ingredients, vegan certifications and sustainability credentials. The platform is also responding to consumers’ growing animal testing concerns and calls for bans on ingredients such as glitter.

Expanding in China

In addition to connecting brands between the United States and United Kingdom, Feelunique continues to develop its push into China. Feelunique’s digital platform allows brands to launch in the rapidly growing market and test the waters without committing to building a shop or adhering to the country’s regulatory framework.

This allows small brands to target new customers and experiment and gain exposure in markets that would otherwise be inaccessible to players of their scale.

“China is an important market for us, one in which we have been very successful in demonstrating our abilities as a cross-border e-tailer and which provides a solid foundation from which to extend our reach in Asia,” adds Palix.