Ouai Prepares For Ulta Beauty Store Rollout; Reliance Industries Launches Retail Service

Ulta Beauty store

Online brands are growing their presence in the physical world by bringing their products into brick-and-mortar stores. Ouai, a hair and body care brand founded by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, will roll out some of its merchandise in 1,200 Ulta Beauty locations in addition to the retailer’s website on Sunday (Jan. 5). Its products are sold in over 400 Sephora stores and some Urban Outfitters stores, among those of other merchants, Vogue Business reported.

The retailer wrote in a tweet, “We’re starting off the decade with a big announcement: “@theouai by Jen Atkin is launching at Ulta Beauty!” The brand will begin by selling 12 selections, with the inclusion of super dry shampoo and scalp & body scrub at the store. The brand will also take over tables at the front of the store. Additional merchandise from the brand will reportedly be available to consumers with time.

Many of the most significant decisions of the brand occur through crowdsourcing. Atkin polls her Instagram followers on topics ranging from where they like to make purchases to their which packaging they prefer. The packaging of one product, the treatment masque, was changed to a tube from a tin after shopper feedback. The company, however, still has traditional focus groups with top influencers and fans. Atkin, however, says that she often receives responses in the thousands within an hour of making a post.

The established consumer group of Ulta, along with additional benefits, however, provides a boost to brands that they can’t attain alone. Joe Rohrlich, who is the chief revenue officer of Bazaarvoice, a digital marketing firm, said per the report, “Direct-to-consumer is an outstanding strategy for building loyalty, advocacy and overall brand ethos in the early days of a business.” Rohrlich continued, “At some point, though, the question becomes how to scale and reach a broader audience that still makes purchasing decisions in the aisle.”

Aside from Ouai, other beauty brands are growing a brick-and-mortar presence. Glossier, in one case, is bringing temporary shops to seven Nordstrom locations, including the retailer’s New York flagship. The brand will only sell its “Glossier You” fragrance, a product that has become one of’s top-rated items since rolling out in October 2017. The beauty brand has also launched pop-up shops in cities like Miami, Austin, London, and Boston.

From Glossier to Ouai, beauty brands are growing their reach by bringing their products into brick-and-mortar stores to harness some of the advantages of working with retailers.

In Other Brick-and-Mortar News

Reliance Industries is launching an early version of its online retail offering as it aims to tap into its massive digital subscriber base to take on worldwide eCommerce companies. The firm has begun to invite consumers in select suburbs of Mumbai to sign up for home grocery delivery. The company has reportedly emerged as the strongest rival to the existing online shopping leaders in India, Amazon and Flipkart.

Those firms were said to have been impacted when the country’s government enacted rules that prevented foreign-owned platforms from selling products from their subsidiaries. Reliance has a sizable retail presence, with its core business centered on oil refining. The company, which purchased the famous toy merchant Hamleys runs supermarkets and disrupted the telecom market in 2017 when it rolled out Jio.

In other news, the United Parcel Service (UPS) foresees shipping 1.9 million gifts and other products back to U.S. retailers as online shopping powers a forecast 26 percent year-over-year volume surge on National Returns Day. Jan. 2 is the day with the most activity for holiday returns in the United States. U.S. consumers return more packages than their worldwide contemporaries, with the widespread availability of free return shipping.

Clothing comprises a significant amount of returns. In some areas, the return rate is near 50 percent because of inconsistent sizing across brands, per IHL Group Founder and President Greg Buzek. He estimated that yearly worldwide losses from retail returns are nearly $1 trillion — higher than $600 billion in 2015. UPS said per reports that it handled over 1 million returns each day in December but it did not offer a yearly total.

And U.K.’s high streets have been hit with the hardest times in a quarter of a century, with 140,000 jobs lost and the closure of 16,000 stores this year. Over 2,750 jobs were lost every week — approximately 61 each working day, according to a study by the Center for Retail Research (CRR). Another 38,100 positions were lost as companies shuttered. Approximately 26,500 job losses were part of what are known as CVAs, or company voluntary arrangements.

To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.



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