Winning online store Beauty Bliss meets traditional retail

Toni Barrett of make-up business Beauty Bliss has opened her first store, following her website's success.
ASHTEN MACDONALD/FAIRFAX NZ

Toni Barrett of make-up business Beauty Bliss has opened her first store, following her website's success.

It's surprising how many people will buy make-up online, says Toni Barrett of Wellington-based cosmetic business Beauty Bliss.

Two months after being named New Zealand's top "pureplay," or purely online Internet retailer, Barrett has joined a small but growing number of retailers moving from the Internet to a physical store.

Blending the "clicks" with the "bricks" is becoming the way many businesses are going so they can maximise their visibility. But it has an added dimension when it comes to make-up, Barrett said.

"Our customers want to touch, smell and try on products. Once they've found their perfect match, many are then comfortable re-ordering online."

Barrett said there had been a lot of talk about "pureplay" retailers crossing the divide between digital and physical, but few had taken the plunge.

Those who do dip a toe in those waters include sporting goods store Torpedo 7, clothing, homeware and beauty store Onceit, and Amazon, which has opened a "real world" bookstore in Seattle.

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As Barrett has found, her Internet fan base has been more than prepared to follow her into the physical world.

"I received a Snapchat from some customers camping out at 9:30pm on the Friday night before the store opening," she said.

"They were still there with their sleeping bags and camping chairs when we opened the doors at 10am.

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"The launch was a great example of how online helped the physical store - we didn't advertise about the opening, we just posted on Facebook where we have more than 56,000 likes and included a mention in our newsletter."

Beauty Bliss' point of difference is fast delivery and exclusive lower-priced "indie" brands, which has found a niche among mostly 15 to 25 year old females.

The business was started by Barrett three years ago after years as a web developer, working for Trade Me among others.

"I never really was a make-up person. It's quite weird to people who know me really," she said.

"I was watching YouTube videos trying to learn how to do things a bit myself and realised it was really difficult to find the products that the people in the videos were using, because they were using things from America and the UK.

"So I decided to buy some things myself and then, just thought, hey, why don't I buy a bit more?"

It was the business' strong online customer base which gave Barrett the confidence to test out some pop-up stores.

That led to a permanent location, sharing retail space with Voon on Willis St. 

However, she said customers should not expect a traditional store layout. The majority of floor space is given over to running the businesses' click and collect service and back-office operations – all in full view of the customer.

"We want to really hit home that we're an omni-channel store. Just because you're shopping on Willis St today doesn't mean you can't then shop on the website at night. In a sense we never close."

It was also a nice reminder for customers that the website was run by real people here in New Zealand, Barrett said.

"We're not a big faceless machine, we're a small New Zealand business that's dedicated to bringing Kiwis gorgeous cosmetics at fantastic prices."

She is now on the lookout for other store locations around Wellington and has plans for a store in Auckland. An Australian website is also under development.

 - Stuff

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