For decades, the beauty industry has been a tough market to break into—particularly for small, independent brands. The dominant entry point was department stores, where brands would have to secure entire counters, a cost-prohibitive measure for many. But as ecommerce emerged, doors began to open for independent beauty merchants to enter the industry.
Today, thousands of new beauty brands are launching every month. Reuters recently reported that the beauty industry was worth $532 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach a market value of nearly $806 billion by 2023.
Within this highly competitive and quickly growing industry, Sarah Chung—a beauty industry veteran—recognized that brands and retailers needed more than the standard B2B commerce platform had to offer. In 2016, she launched Landing International, a B2B ecommerce platform, which focuses on the unique attributes of the beauty industry and connects emerging beauty and wellness brands with retailers.
“I launched Landing with this idea that we need more transparency in the B2B beauty space where brands and retailers can find out information about their potential partners,” says Chung, who is Landing’s CEO. “We chose to build this platform around the idea of trading transparency in the industry and leveling the playing field for emerging brands.”
Today, Landing has been deployed by many global independent beauty brands. In the past five years, the company has launched more than 200 beauty and wellness brands at major U.S. retailers such as Ulta, Target, Dermstore, Nordstrom and Revolve.
The need for transparency in the beauty industry is born out of customer demand, as customers’ appetite for newness and innovation in their beauty products is at an all-time high., Chung says. The good news, she adds, is this demand is driving product innovation among brands. But because the beauty industry is crowded and competitive, retailers are often challenged to identify and connect with those that meet the standards of their unique customers.
Connecting retailers with more brands
Landing’s platform streamlines how a retailer can access a large number of brands, Chung says. “We’ve taken the best practices that beauty buyers care about and the information they need to assess a brand, and we built it into the platform,” she says. Landing’s technology was designed to allow brands to communicate their value through the platform and to help retailers choose the brands and products that meet their customers’ demands.
Silver Mirror Facial Bar, a facial treatment and skincare retailer, is always seeking out new, effective and innovative skincare brands and products to sell. “Landing is one of the best destinations for a retailer like us to discover many new brands and products at once, and then easily place orders for them to ship to our multiple locations,” says Cindy Kim, Silver Mirror’s founder and CEO. “It allows us to be very nimble in the brands and products we carry, which our customers appreciate.”
The Landing platform is pretty simple to use, Chung says. Brands upload their company information into Landing’s platform template. Then they upload all their products into the product catalog—filling out specific details for each. First, they identify the product’s top-level category, such as skin care or hair care. Then they enter the second level information, such as cleanser or moisturizer. Then they fill out the micro-categories, which may indicate if the product is oil-, foam- or grain-based, for example.
“That was something that was very simple but was missing in the sourcing environment when I started Landing,” Chung says. “It was hard for retailers to get the ingredient list of the products that brands were pitching them.”
Automated sales and marketing tools
Monica Robinson, owner of Kmoni Cosmetics, says that’s one of the biggest benefits of the Landing platform. “I was able to create a very professional product catalog with all of the information necessary that a potential retailer might want to see,” she says.
Landing’s platform also offers automated sales, marketing, logistics and training tools in one place. It enables brands to transact with retailers, manage orders in a single location, and view marketing and sales analytics.
Chung says Landing earns its revenue through fees and commissions designed to appeal to brands of all sizes, including “emerging beauty and wellness brands that don’t have the insider contacts, operational infrastructure, or industry know-how of larger corporate brands.” Landing lets brands upload up to 20 products on its online platform and accept orders from customers for no annual fee; it charges these brands a 10% commission on sales. Brands have the option to pay a $2,000 annual fee to upload an unlimited number of products and pay a 5% commission on sales. Landing charges no fees to retailers who use its platform to buy from brands.
Growing with the industry
Landing continues to update the platform with new features. In early 2021, it will launch its training tool, which will incentivize in-store employees to learn about products through a mobile app. “When employees take the training courses, they will earn points that will go toward free products and other perks,” Chung says. “It makes what might be an otherwise boring training session, fun and motivating.”
Another recent addition to the platform is the Clean Pre-Check feature. The new feature allows brands to upload the ingredients for each of their products to discover which retailer’s clean products standards they meet. It also helps retailers with strict clean product requirements find brands that are in compliance.
The company has seen its largest growth since COVID-19. As many brands had to close their brick-and-mortar stores, they began to turn to ecommerce retail partners—and Landing’s platform helped facilitate those relationships. “And retail buyers that once visited tradeshows and conferences to source new brands had to go online to meet their customers’ expectations for at-home beauty treatments,” Chung says.
Since the launch of its sales and marketing platform in 2016, brands on the Landing platform have sold more than $25 million through its online ecosystem. And the company has seen a 175% growth in brand sales annually.
“Landing did everything they could to make sure that my company was in a great marketable position,” Robinson of Kmoni Cosmetics says. “This has helped my company tap into the global retail market.”
Cate Flahardy is a Chicago-based freelance journalist covering business and technology.
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