Attention Net-A-Porter shoppers: The moisture stain lipstick and and self-tanning serum have finally arrived.
On March 20, Net-A-Porter—the world’s glitziest online fashion site—quietly launched Net-A-Porter Beauty, a carefully selected edit of beauty products from 11 brands including Chantecaille and Le Metier de Beaute. Shoppers browsing Jimmy Choo pumps and Oscar de la Renta gowns now face the added temptation of checking out with a $115 deep exfoliating mask from Dr. Sebagh and a $95 bottle of hydrating body gel from Aesop. The site will slowly roll out more brands in the coming weeks.
“As we started to expand it was a disconnect to not be able to offer beauty,” Alison Loehnis, the managing director of Net-A-Porter, told WWD. “By being at the front lines, we have an enormous amount of insight and exposure to talent and also product.”
More importantly, the site also has the trust of high-end consumers who want guidance whether buying a $2,000 handbag or $24 tube of lipstick. “The Net-a-Porter expansion into beauty makes perfect sense,” says Lucie Greene, the editor of LS:N Global, the trends network at London-based trend forecasting agency The Future Laboratory. Launching an entirely new retail site for beauty would have required Net-A-Porter to convince its shoppers of the new site’s credibility. But by simply adding an additional category “they can funnel their vast and loyal audience to their own beauty offer and benefit from the sales.”
Net-A-Porter has certainly mastered the art of driving up revenues. In 2012 the fashion juggernaut saw sales soar from £238 million (around $359 million) to £368 million (more than $555 million). Their proposition isn’t merely a careful edit of brands, but also a much-ballyhooed customer care team that offers style and shopping advice. Keen to protect that aspect of its business, Net-A-Porter employees had to hit the books—and the make-up counter—ahead of the beauty launch.
“The team has spent the past year attending master classes hosted by our brands so that they can help with any enquiries,” Loehnis said in a statement. “Through this level of service, our engaging editorial content and carefully selected assortment of brands, we are delighted to offer a unique, curated shopping experience for our customers around the world.”
Over the past few months the company has also beefed up its beauty coverage in The Edit, its online magazine. Greene believes the magazine has given the site a credible—and clearly profitable—point of view. “In profiling women known for their personal style and on-brand celebrities, they have painted a picture of the Net woman, an aspirational ‘just like me’ for consumers to follow,” she says. “If its consumers are already buying into these women’s fashion taste, I can’t see why they wouldn’t buy their favorite lipstick too.”
So far, so good. The beauty category has only been live for one week, but two dozen items—including several makes of lipstick—have already sold out.