Amazon is poised to launch an "indie beauty shop" on its marketplace, showcasing smaller beauty brands not easily found at drugstores, mass merchants or even at specialty players like Sephora and Ulta, Glossy reports.
Brands must be at least 50% independently owned and not available at Ulta, Target or Walmart to be featured on the curated page, Amazon's senior strategic business development chief Justin Boettcher said in remarks at last month's BeautyX Retail Summit, according to the report.
The move could put both small beauty brands and mass merchants in a difficult position, by requiring smaller brands to choose between either selling on Amazon's marketplace or selling at primarily brick-and-mortar retailers like Ulta — an issue that has also come up in the sneaker market, with more and more brands choosing to sell directly on Amazon, putting pressure on wholesale partners. An Amazon spokesperson on Wednesday declined to comment to Retail Dive.
Amazon has already moved quite assertively in beauty, including creating a similar online "shop" for luxury beauty items that is a step above its usual workaday feel. The e-commerce giant holds 21.1% of U.S. market share — compared to Macy's 17.4% and Sephora's 15%, according to 1010data.
But indie brands with a more natural approach — both in that products contain fewer harmful chemicals and in their fresh, Instagram-like marketing — are grabbing attention and sales. Glossier, for example, announced a $52 million Series C funding round earlier this year— bringing its total funding to $86 million — to expand its product line and geography.
Target and Sephora in particular are enlisting independent brands to appeal to younger consumers, and each recently hosted accelerators in the space to boost small beauty startups, including brands catering to — and led by — women of color.
But the off-beat, natural appeal of many indie beauty products isn't the only draw — beauty is also a highly experiential sales proposition, requiring a compelling sales pitch even online. With just one store in New York, for example, Glossier's approach to that is to load up images, videos and quirky copy and foster a sense of community.
"In the age of Amazon, who has mastered offering a breadth of product, who has yet solved for a breadth of connection?" Glossier found and CEO Emily Weiss said in remarks at Shoptalk in March. "In the end you have to give your customers a voice, you have to truly listen to them and not just make them feel heard. You have to treat them with the respect that they deserve because after all in this world where there is no scarcity of choice, you have to give them a reason to keep choosing you."