Sweet success: how SweetCare has built a tech-led ecommerce empire

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

The business said its success was “deeply rooted in leveraging the latest technology”
The business said its success was “deeply rooted in leveraging the latest technology”

Related tags ecommerce beauty tech retail personalised beauty digital AI

Since its launch in 2008, Portuguese ecommerce beauty and wellness retailer SweetCare has steadily built an international global customer base and is recording double-digit annual growth year-on-year.

The Porto-based business has also recently been ranked as number 488 in in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 EMEA 2023 Awards, which measures the fastest-growing companies in the whole EMEA region.

SweetCare’s founders explained that the business has put strong emphasis on innovation, strategic partnerships, and of course customer satisfaction, but explained that its success was “deeply rooted in leveraging the latest technology.”

We spoke to SweetCare's CMO Maria Nogueira to find out more…

CosmeticsDesign-Europe (CDE) Can you tell me more about SweetCare? When and why did you launch the site? 

Maria Nogueira (MN):​ Sure! SweetCare was born in 2008 in Porto, Portugal. Our journey began with a deep connection to aesthetics, beauty, and the balance between form and function because, initially, our founders, Susana Guimarães and Sérgio Faria, launched Inexistência, an interior architecture and design firm.

Their shared enthusiasm for innovation and digital transformation led to the creation of our first online store in 2002, which was very successful: store.inexistencia.com. Leveraging their expertise in design and technology, they fully transitioned into the ecommerce world, and SweetCare was born, making us a 100% national and digital beauty and wellness ecommerce store.

We started as a small digital venture with a big dream: to revolutionise the beauty, health, and wellness industry with a purely online approach. Fast forward to today, and we're an international etailer, offering everything from skin care to pet care. Our journey has been all about embracing innovation, quality, and a deep understanding of our customers' needs. We've grown ‘leaps and bounds’, thanks to our dedicated team and loyal customers.

CDE: Can you explain more about your business model please?

MN: Absolutely, we’re global! While we're proud of our Portuguese roots, our reach extends far beyond. We operate as an international ecommerce platform, serving customers all over the world.

We have a dynamic catalogue of 25,000 products from over 500 official brands and licensed distributors. We cater to 600,000 registered customers worldwide, offering a personalised shopping experience, with tailored advice and recommendations. Each month, more than one million people visit our site from around the world.

CDE: Can you tell me more about how you've been leveraging the latest technology?

MN: Innovation is in our DNA; we've always embraced the latest technology to enhance our services. Our digital framework, developed entirely in-house, is the backbone of our operations. We've implemented advanced tools like AR-based virtual try-ons​ and online diagnostics​ to create a more interactive and personalised shopping experience. These technologies allow customers to make more informed decisions before purchasing.

Looking forward, we're excited to integrate AI and machine learning to further personalise our offerings, optimise our supply chains, and drive scalability. This continuous technological evolution ensures we stay ahead of the curve and consistently meet our customers' needs.

CDE: What kinds of strategic partnerships have you formed and how has that helped you grow?

MN: Strategic partnerships have been instrumental to our growth. We've forged strong, lasting relationships with over 500 official brands and licensed distributors. These strategic alliances uphold the authenticity and quality of the products and guarantee consistency of stock availability. Also, they’re crucial to keep us ahead with the latest news and product releases.

Additionally, we collaborate on a regular basis with medical professionals, from dermatologists to general practitioners, pharmacists, dermocounselors, beauty advisors and professional makeup artists, to provide expert advice and personalised care. It has also enabled us to expand our product range, elevate our service standards, and earn a trusted reputation in the market.

By joining forces with the best, we've built a rock-solid reputation, fuelled our growth, and kept our customers coming back for more!

CDE: A number of Portuguese companies feature in Deloittes’ Technology Fast 500 EMEA awards . Has Portugal become a hub for tech?

MN: Yes, Portugal has indeed seen significant growth in its tech sector, with many companies gaining recognition for their innovation and impact. Portugal has gained significant attention from the global tech community thanks to key factors like the Web Summit in Lisbon, a thriving startup ecosystem in cities like Lisbon and Porto, and a highly educated talent pool in technology and engineering.

There's a thriving ecosystem here that supports startups and tech-driven businesses, fostering innovation and growth. SweetCare's success is a testament to this – showcasing how Portuguese companies are leveraging technology to excel in global markets.

CDE: What are your future plans for SweetCare?

MN: We're incredibly excited about the future! Our primary focus is on sustainable and strategic growth. SweetCare aims to continue its accelerated growth, maintaining a double-digit annual growth rate. The company’s future vision includes strengthening its position in the national market while exploring new opportunities for international expansion.

We have plans to further differentiate in the market by offering exclusive beauty edits, innovative ethical brands and expanding the product range.

There is also a strong focus on sustainability, with ongoing efforts to minimise environmental impact through use of biodegradable packaging, reducing the number of wrappings to the minimum necessary, systematic reuse of packaging materials, and communication materials made exclusively from FSC paper.  As a result, our rate of plastic use in logistics and packaging is less than 3%.

We also work hard to avoid product returns, which is why we focus on providing complete and accurate product information to our customers on site, through our resident team of pharmaceutical specialists' advice on how to make informed purchasing decisions.

We also provide a Beauty Glossary and complementary content on our Blog, with over 1,200 editorial posts on beauty, health, and wellness.

Several innovative and exciting projects are in the pipeline, including AI and machine learning integrations for enhanced personalisation and efficiency. We can't wait to share more soon!

SweetCare another image

SweetCare's dog-loving founders combine beauty and wellness with pet care on the successful ecommerce site

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