Beauty e-commerce trends 2019: Amazon ‘most popular’ platform, user-generated content critical

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

In the last 12 months, 74% of European women have bought cosmetics online - largely from big retail names like Amazon, Sephora, Douglas and Superdrug (Getty Images)
In the last 12 months, 74% of European women have bought cosmetics online - largely from big retail names like Amazon, Sephora, Douglas and Superdrug (Getty Images)

Related tags e-commerce Online shopping Amazon User-generated content trends

Amazon is where most European women shop online for cosmetics and these shoppers place high value on user-generated content to make final purchase decisions, a report finds.

The recently published 2019 eCommerce cosmetic trends: How European women purchase cosmetics online​ report from marketing and e-commerce specialist Photoslurp and market researcher Zinklar investigated shopping behaviour across the UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy. Mobile surveys were conducted with 1,500 women aged 18+ – 300 in each country.

Big retail provides ‘more choice’, enables cross-brand purchasing

Findings showed 74% of respondents had bought cosmetics online in the last 12 months with the UK, France and Italy having the highest number of female online shoppers in this period. Lipstick was the most popular and regular product purchased online, followed by face masks, eye shadow and eye-liner and a large number of shoppers specifically sought out sensitive skin and cruelty-free products.

For the most part, women across Europe tended to purchase these cosmetics from big retail platforms such as Amazon, Sephora, Douglas and Superdrug, rather than individual brand websites. Amazon proved to be “the most popular online space” ​across the region, featured in the top three websites used by consumers in all countries surveyed, except France.

“It doesn’t come as a surprise that Amazon was placed within the top three in the majority of the countries,”​ Photoslurp and Zinklar said.

“…Women are more interested in purchasing cosmetics from big retailing websites with various cosmetic options compared to individual brand websites. With more choice and the ability to make cross-brand purchases in one go, there are potential incentives for shopping with retailers, including delivery and shipping for only one order with multiple brands.”

Amazon, in particular, was known for its “ease of purchase and returns”​ which brought customers back to the site, the report said.

User-generated content to overcome e-commerce challenges

Deeper analysis showed consumers placed high importance on discounts and promotions, as well as free delivery and shipping when choosing where to shop online for cosmetics.

User-generated content (UGC) and star ratings were rated the most important website feature for female online shoppers across all countries surveyed, with 67.7% searching for UGC on social media before purchase. Photos of the product being used in real-life, photos with a zoom function or taken from multiple angles, as well as videos, were considered most important.

“With this mind, e-commerce brands should be focusing their efforts on creating UGC, collecting it, and using it in their online store as visual reviews and product inspiration,”​ Photoslurp and Zinklar said.

“This integration answers to all three of our challenges: showing customers how well a product works, teaching them how to use it, and inspiring them to continue coming back to the brand – and all through the eyes of the customer.”

Customer reviews were also a “highly coveted part of the online buying process”​ for consumers, it said, with just 4.8% of respondents claiming to never read any customer reviews online.

Transforming learnings into online beauty strategies: ‘There are a lot of opportunities’

Cosmetics brands must remain innovative online and understand the importance of UGC (Getty Images)
Cosmetics brands must remain innovative online and understand the importance of UGC (Getty Images)

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, CEO of Photoslurp Eulogi Bordas said now was clearly a good time to be in online cosmetics.

“As our research shows, there are a lot of opportunities for entering the online cosmetic industry in Europe, and it will only keep growing,”​ Bordas said.

“…Right now, it’s really crucial to put a focus on being innovative when convincing people to buy your products. For example, using more engaging visuals, presenting interactive content like ‘how-tos’ or your customers’ images and videos, and giving customers information on how they can understand their skin-type or why products work well with it.”

Charlie Brook, head of content at Photoslurp, agreed: “What we found from the research is that European women of all ages are not only buying cosmetics online but are adapting to the innovative selling techniques of e-commerce brands. This means that they’ll increasingly look for these specific tools (user-generated content, star ratings, online chats) when they enter an online store and expect to continuously see new and innovative ways for purchasing cosmetics online.”

Asked if the high street could compete with online, Brook said: “While people may be transitioning towards brick and mortar stores in some cases, I don’t think that will ever replace the power of e-commerce within this day and age. Especially in terms of giving people information about your products without them ever having to leave their homes.”

Lush’s global property director previously told us the high street had a strong future in cosmetics.

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