Racks of ready-to-wear at fashion retailers will soon be joined by rows of beauty products.
Fashion retailers like H&M and Primark have begun expanding their merchandise offerings in order to become more “specialty,” and adding beauty into the mix is part of the move.
The transition plays into the industry’s widespread move toward improved in-store experiences. Today, the brick-and-mortar stores that are valid players in the retail space are offering shoppers reasons to visit beyond making a simple purchase. They’ve sold customers on the fact that what’s inside is just as exciting as what’s on mobile.
Macy’s, for one, has been busy outfitting its stores with Peach & Lily shops-in-shop, making cosmetics by the Korean beauty e-tailer easily accessible to its forward-thinking shoppers. JCPenney has been working to add Sephora outposts to all of its stores.
Of course, a major motivation for many retailers to enter the beauty world is “more items in the shopping bag,” said Candace Corlett, President of WSL Strategic Retail. “What fashion retailers know is that, when women are buying fashion, their mind is thinking about how terrific they’re going to look. Completing the outfit with a beauty product is a win-win for everybody.”
Such would explain why PacSun, which announced its bankruptcy and plans to restructure in April, decided to release a line of beauty products in its stores last month.
Fashion storeowners who launched their stores with beauty sections know the value the category can bring to a retailer.
“We have had beauty from day one,” said Leigh Plessner, co-creative director of Williamsburg’s Catbird boutique, which is widely known as a jewelry store. “Beauty sparks the warm feelings we want people to leave our store with. Jewelry took the lead early on, but beauty has always been part if what we do.”
Currently, beauty makes up about 10 percent of Catbird’s in-store sales, and it takes up 20 percent of the store floor. Earlier this month, the brand launched a fragrance called Smoke & Violets to round out its beauty section and complement its other offerings.
“All in all, [beauty] makes for a more exciting experience for us and our customers,” said Plessner. “Our store is all about discovery and exploration, and beauty adds depth to what we’re doing.”
A selection of offerings at Catbird in Williamsburg.
“Today, shoppers expect their store visits to be more than just, ‘Show me the merchandise.’” said Corlett. “They want the trip to be efficient and to take the stress out of decision-making, and they want to see merchandise in an ‘aha’ way.”
One way retailers are wowing customers is by offering up inspiring displays that speak to their tastes. “It’s all about merchandising,” Corlett said. “When you look at a print ad for Ralph Lauren, it’s not just a dress on a page—it transports you to another place. Retailers have to build out the look so that customers want to be in that place.”
The Apartments by The Line, for instance, feature aspirational living space–look setups that combine fresh fashion, beauty, and home items that seem made for their refined customer. According to its website, “The Line connects you with your new favorite things.”
Such lifestyle-inspired displays are nothing new, of course—Anthropologie has been relying on a like floor setup since 1992. Just last month, URBN announced that it will be opening several expanded versions of the typical Anthropologie store—called Anthropologie & Co.—through spring 2017. Many are classifying the new stores as modernized department stores.
“Shoppers are saying that they like mini departments, Corlett said. “They’re not talking about the overstuffed department store, which takes so much work. By expending to a handful of select categories, retailers are reinventing the department store.”
And physical stores are not the only fashion retailers that are boosting their offerings. Earlier this year, The Dreslyn, an online lifestyle boutique based in LA, announced the launch of The Dreslyn Beauty, a specialty department that currently lives on its website. For founder and CEO Brooke Taylor Corcia, expanding to beauty made perfect sense for her store: “Our aim is to accommodate clients’ lifestyle in one marketplace with a singular, focused vision,” she said. “And across all categories, everything we list is intended to enhance the natural beauty of the owner.”
She said that she started to consider carrying beauty when she noticed a rise of modern, organic products. “Our customer is, and has always been, intelligently selective about what they put on and into their bodies.”
Since its launch in June, the beauty category has been nothing short of successful. “Beauty has become our fastest-growing department,” Taylor Cortia said. “It has increased awareness for The Dreslyn across new channels, introduced a new entry price point in our market, raised average order values and allowed us to service our audience in a new, exciting way.”