Amazon’s 2013 foray into building a Luxury Beauty site has been rocky at best. Not only did the brand fail to get a critical mass of luxury beauty brands on board to officially distribute their products on the e-tailer’s site, a few early joiners like Nars and Deborah Lippmann are nowhere to be found on the site two years later. While this may suggest prestige retailers are unwilling to sell their products on online shops without physical stores, the success of British e-tailer FeelUnique.com provides evidence to the contrary.


FeelUnique has the anti-Amazon approach. Amazon opens its gates for gray market e-tailers to fill its site with discounted (or perceived as discounted) beauty products, and cleans them up for select brands that officially distribute (e.g. Burberry) on its platform. FeelUnique, however, lures prestige brands with compelling offerings like brand shops, and the option to post product videos and offer gifts with purchase. Lending its scale to brands with smaller e-commerce and sampling operations, FeelUnique.com offers a “Try Me” Service that includes a sample with each full-size product. Shoppers can try the sample before opening the purchased product and return the unopened container if they did not like the sample. This helps many first-time online beauty shoppers surpass their hesitation about buying online. As of now, 52% of Index brands participate in FeelUnique’s Try Me program.

FeelUnique.com has become the largest pure-play e-tailer of premium beauty products in the U.K. and raised $28.4 million in a funding round in April. Sixty-two percent of brands in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beauty U.K. distribute on the platform, vs just 17% on Amazon and 6% on Amazon’s Luxury Beauty store. All proof that honey catches more flies than other tactics.

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