Countless beauty brands and retailers are selling online and through mobile. So it’s no wonder the drug store chain is getting in the game. "We are excited to offer Canadians 24/7 access to their favourite beautyBOUTIQUE brands, catering to customers who want an enhanced and convenient shopping experience," says Mike Motz, president of Shoppers Drug Mart, in a media release about the site. Though, not as much transactional business goes on in the digital beauty space as one would hope.
Instead, omni-channel retail, which allows consumers to see, sample, research, try and buy products in an array of venues, seems to be the way forward. Consumers familiar with a retailer’s in-store aesthetic as well as the look and feel of the merchandise may be more inclined to buy online.
Though, just now, ecommerce accounts for only a small fraction of beauty sales. For instance, only 10% in the States, according to earlier comments from market researcher Kline group.
The new Shoppers Drug Mart site connects with the store’s customer rewards program, allowing shoppers to earn Optimum points when purchasing beauty and personal care items through the ecommerce platform. This, Motz explains, will ensure the rewards are consistent with consumers’ in-store experience.
The company developed its in-store beautyBoutique concept 12 years back and now counts over 250 such departments in Shoppers Drug Mart locations across Canada.
Describing the strategy behind the move to ecommerce, Cathy Masson, vice president of Category Management for Shoppers Drug Mart, says in the release, "The vision of beautyBOUTIQUE.ca was to create a unique online retail experience, all while keeping three things in mind – accessibility and reach, convenience through digital and brand assortment.”
Throughout North America drug stores and grocery retailers are stepping up to compete with stand-alone beauty storefronts and department store offerings.
The second largest US pharmacy chain, CVS, upgraded its beauty department this summer. That company was motivated by both shifting consumer expectations and a pressing need to make up revenue lost when the company discontinued cigarette sales.
These seemingly disparate factors are somewhat connected; shoppers are making a stronger link between health and personal care now more than ever. “The new CVS skin care line Skin+Pharmacy showcases how the company is meeting consumer expectations, associating beauty with wellness,” observed Cosmetics Design in an earlier article about the improved CVS beauty departments that include not only new brands but new displays.
In the grocery segment Whole Foods is becoming a go-to beauty destination for consumers looking for carefully curated products formulated with organic and natural ingredients. And more recently, Canadian supermarkets spotted the demand for Asian beauty products in particular.