Tech Bytes from Retail & Tech No 20

The latest tech news to inform and inspire


  • L’Oréal’s digital ambitions. L’Oréal is aiming for 50% of its sales to come from e-commerce in the near future. The company’s chief digital officer Lubomira Rochet said she did not know if this would be in three, five or seven years, but that the group is close to reaching the threshold. E-commerce accounted for 24% of L’Oréal’s sales in the first nine months of this year. Rochet outlined that in the future 50% of its growth drivers will be digital and 80% of its interactions with consumers will be online. She added that the group had made strong progress on digital over the past six years and said that if digital were a country it would be the group’s largest – digital generated €4.8bn in the first nine months of the year. In terms of the future, Rochet stated that beauty and digital will be increasingly about retailtainment, through livestreaming, gamification and services, while advocacy, peer-to-peer selling and subscription models would also be important.


  • Breaking beauty records for 11.11. Beauty was a winner in the first sales window of Alibaba’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival. Beauty products generated more than Rmb10bn ($1.5bn) in gross merchandise volume (GMV) and exceeded 150% year-over-year sales growth in the first hour of the sales period from November 1 to 3. Alibaba said last month that it would add a new sales period, ahead of the main event on November 11, with the goal of providing companies, particularly new brands and small businesses, an additional opportunity to showcase products. Over 100 brands, including L’Oréal, Estée Lauder and Lancôme (L’Oréal), achieved Rmb100m ($15.08m) in GMV in the first hour and 51 minutes. Estée Lauder’s Tmall flagship store was the first to reach Rmb1bn ($150.8m) in sales during 11.11. Another 34 new brands in the beauty category also achieved more than Rmb10m ($1.51m) in sales in a single day. Over 1,800 new brands (brands that have been on Tmall for less than three years) exceeded the GMV they saw last year on November 1. Among them, 94 brands have already achieved 1,000% year-over-year growth. The number of new products introduced on Alibaba’s B2C platform Tmall will exceed two million this year, twice the number of new products from last year. Nearly 200 luxury brands also joined this year’s festival.


  • Digital & China growth engines. The importance of digital and China for luxury brands was underlined last week through a deal, whereby Alibaba, Richemont and Groupe Artemis invested $1.5bn in online fashion retailer Farfetch. Alibaba and Richemont will also each put up an additional $250m for a combined 25% stake in Farfetch China. Farfetch will launch luxury shopping channels on Alibaba’s Tmall Luxury Pavilion, Luxury Soho and cross-border marketplace Tmall Global. The move will extend Farfetch’s reach to Alibaba’s 757 million customers.


  • Beauty games. Livestreaming platform for gamers, Twitch is fast emerging as a new tool for beauty brands. In October, beauty YouTuber Michelle Phan hosted a livestream of the game “League of Legends” to promote her cosmetics brand Em Cosmetics’ new Daydream Cushion foundation. The stream included links to purchase the product, with a Daydream Cushion commercial broadcast during game breaks. Twitch launched in 2011 and has recently gained popularity beyond the video gaming sphere. L’Oréal-owned brand Maybelline has indulged in Twitch livestreaming, while beauty social-media personality James Charles streamed himself playing the game Among Us earlier last month and shared the session on his YouTube channel. Charles has contemplated starting a channel dedicated solely to gaming. The interest in Twitch is only set to grow as more countries adopt lockdown measures and users look for at-home entertainment.


  • Platform connections. New digital platform Cosmetikke is out to improve the way beauty brands, distributors, suppliers and consumers connect with each other. The platform uses Artificial Intelligence to identify common interests between brands, distributors and consumers so they can connect with each other. Cosmetikke says its platform helps brands expand and manage distribution, as well as engage with consumers. Distributors can use the platform to source new brands and attract new users, while consumers can use it to find out about trending products and find retailers that sell them. The platform launched this year.


  • Pinterest & brand discovery. Pinterest has introduced new tools to help retailers increase brand and product discoverability ahead of the holiday season. Merchants can now transform their shop tab into a virtual storefront, featuring products according to category and recommendations. In addition, when users search for shopping-related ideas on Pinterest, they will see recommended merchants based on the product category. The platform is also testing an improved product tagging tool that will allow merchants to tag their own images with exact products, making it easier for shoppers to buy the same product from their saved or liked photos.


  • Beauty lag. Beauty seems to be slower on the digital uptake compared to other consumer goods categories, according to Euromonitor International. Travel, food service take-away & delivery, apparel & personal accessories and consumer electronics all recorded a double-digit increase in the percentage of connected consumers making digital purchases from January/February to March/April, according to a report from the market-research company. The only exception was beauty, health & personal care purchases, which only grew 8%. A little more than 50% of connected consumers used a digital channel to buy a beauty, health or personal care product, while 61% used digital to research beauty products. Both figures are lower than digitally friendly categories like travel, electronics and apparel. Beauty, health & personal care products still rely heavily on in-store retailing, Euromonitor notes, and e-commerce sales accounted for only 11% of sales globally across beauty, health and personal care products in 2019. The company says that a low online presence meant that e-commerce could not offset the impact of brick-and-mortar store closures during lockdown. However, digital is, nonetheless on the rise, as the pandemic drove connected consumers to research beauty products online as much as in-store for the first time.


  • Virtual store reality. French brand Clarins opened a virtual rendition of a boutique in a bid to give shoppers a feel for what the brand’s upcoming stores will look like and offer. The virtual boutique serves as a preview for its brick-and-mortar stores in Dubai, Hong Kong and Paris, which are set to open in April 2021. The boutique highlights different zones, including an area to discover new products, learn about plants and ingredients in the brand’s products and browse through its make-up and skincare offer. Customers can reserve in-store beauty treatments or a virtual beauty consultation and take part in a skin diagnostic. The store also features digital services like virtual make-up try-ons for its eye, lip and face products. Additionally, product tutorials and guides are also available for download. The boutique is home to an An Eco Bar, which showcases an area that will begin appearing in the brand’s physical stores offering refills for Clarins Eau Dynamisante and Tonic Oil.