Amazon: Indie Beauty Brand Friend Or Foe?

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 11 founders and executives: Is your brand on Amazon?

Karen Anne JacksFounder, Della Ricca Hair Color  

No. Amazon cuts out the middleman. My business brand and philosophy is about celebrating the middleman. Who is the middleman? The professionals who have spent time, money and energy learning all they can about their industry: chefs, doctors, makeup artists and hairdressers. Amazon has taken the professionals out of the picture and, thus, the customer is losing out on customization with each product.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Amazon. I am a Prime member. The upside is it’s always open, no communication needed, and it comes directly to your door.

Amazon does not work for my brand due to the customization and inclusive philosophy [involved] when I created Della Ricca. Each first order must go through a certified Color Expert who is a licensed hairstylist either in person or online. After the first order and consultation, the customer can go online and reorder without the consultation. The Color Expert earns a residual income every time the customer reorders online.

Maybe. Amazon is a powerful force that anyone selling a product cannot ignore. They’ve now entered into the luxury space, so it’s only a matter of time before luxury brands like myself will join the party. But I have to do it at the right time. My strategy is to grow in recognition through retailers around the world and my own online platform, then consider Amazon in the very near future.

Holly HardingFounder, O'o Hawaii

Yes. Nearly every household in America shops on Amazon, and studies show that most people go to Amazon first before purchasing products directly from the manufacturer. In addition, the exposure that Amazon and Amazon advertising gives can be crucial in exposing consumers to your brand.

Kelly GrahamFounder, Aleavia Skin Care

As a relatively new brand to Amazon, we were reluctant to shift in this direction. However, in one year, our sales on Amazon have surpassed our direct website sales by three times. Our margins are not as high, but we realize more and more everyday that people are looking for convenience when they shop for their brands, and Amazon is dominating this process.  

Our company has shifted a lot of focus on creating better product images, advanced brand content and even videos on our Amazon site to help our brand stand out in the competitive green beauty category, and it’s working.

Nathaly MillanCo-Founder, Zue Beauty

Not now, maybe in the future. It’s an interesting sales channel, but, as I once heard someone say, "It’s not your store, it’s Amazon’s.” So, we decided to strengthen our own e-commerce and drive traffic to our own store. This takes more time to build a customer base, but it also allows us to understand our customers better and be able to provide them a more personalized service.

Sara DavoodiFounder, Athar'a

Yes. We are currently on Amazon, but we do not have our full offering listed. We are kind of still testing the waters in that space. Our thought process was to allow health-conscious, cruelty-free shoppers have easier access to our clean, vegan skincare products. While we have done well with sales, I am still not convinced that our target niche is as active in that marketplace. Thus, we have spent very little effort, if any, in marketing or advertising.

Currently, we are focused on a direct-to-consumer model as connecting with our customers personally is at the heart of why we do what we do. To be even more successful with Amazon, we know going to Fulfillment by Amazon will very easily increase our sales and revenue, but it would also mean losing that personal customer connection, and we are not willing to compromise that at this time.

Urvashi SinghFounder, Aphorism

Not for us. The customer experience means a great deal to us, and we are conscious of every detail from the visuals when buying online to the way it is packaged and wrapped, and how we interact with each one of our clients. Amazon is not a good fit for our model. We love it for many other things of course.

Christine Cameron KoehlerFounder, Flora 1761

Amazon is an incredible retail platform, but currently not the most appropriate avenue for us to engage with our target audience. We have instead dedicated resources into building an engaging and user-friendly website that better embodies our brand and delivers a more consistent customer experience.

Julia TerenFounder, Thesis Beauty

I know that some retailers do not like it when products are on Amazon, and that's alright. We do sell on Amazon, and that doesn't preclude us from opening new retail accounts all the time, both online and brick-and-mortar. Retailers we work with have very strong followings, very good understanding of their local communities and beat the Goliath anyway.

On Amazon, we do our best to stay in control of pricing and do not undercut our retailers, so they are OK with that. Sometimes, Amazon just serves as a quick reference for shoppers, for example, for reviews. They won't necessarily buy it there, but they will look at what others are saying before picking up the product at the store. I personally shop like that, too.

Andrea LopezEsthetician and Founder, Bonum Vitae

No. Not that I won’t eventually look into it, but, for now, since I’m still small, I prefer to bring traffic through my site where there are testimonials, tips and tricks. [There’s] also a way to reach me with any questions or concerns. I prefer to be personable with potential and existing clients.

Danuta DudekFounder, Cotarde

Yes, because our customers expect our products to be there so that they can buy them whenever they buy other items. It’s convenient, and that’s what we want for our customers.

If you have a question you’d like Beauty Independent to ask beauty entrepreneurs, please send it to editor@beautyindependent.com.