Victoria’s Secret expects to have a beautiful experience on Amazon

Discussion
Source: Amazon.com
May 02, 2022

Victoria’s Secret has launched a “storefront” offering its beauty products on Amazon.com, marking the first time the brand has sold not only on Amazon but through any third-party retailer.

Approximately 120 different Victoria’s Secret and PINK beauty products became available Friday on a dedicated page with purchased products being shipped by Amazon.

“We’ve heard consumers want to purchase VS Beauty in Amazon’s store and already search for the product on the site,” said Greg Unis, CEO of Beauty at VS&Co, in a statement. “This is a natural channel extension for us to continue growing our beauty business and meet customers where they are with the products they love.”

Mr. Unis told CNBC it made sense to start with beauty on Amazon because the beauty category doesn’t have the sizing complexities of apparel or intimate apparel. Victoria’s Secret bras, underwear and loungewear may find their way to Amazon, depending on customer feedback.

“Amazon is a free marketplace and anybody is allowed to sell [there],” Mr. Unis told CNBC. “We knew there was a strong appetite by just being observant on the range of products that were already being sold.”

Victoria’s Secret introduced its fragrances in the eighties and added body care and makeup in the late nineties. The category, which it sells through in–store shops as well as online, has grown to about 15 percent of company sales.

Since spinning off from Bath & Body Works in August 2021, Victoria’s Secret has made several moves to embrace a more inclusive marketing approach, acquired a minority stake in Frankie’s Bikinis and launched the Happy Nation tweens brand.

IKEA, Nike and Birkenstock have earned wide media coverage with decisions to stop selling direct through Amazon, but many mainstream brands, including Adidas, Crocs, Levi’s and Yeti, have dedicated storefront pages on the platform.

Merchandising in other stores has become more common for retailers, such as Sephora’s practice of selling inside Kohl’s, Ulta inside Target, Finish Line inside Macy’s and Athleta inside REI. Gap Home opened shops at Walmart last year.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does selling through Amazon offer more opportunities than risks for Victoria’s Secret? What factors should a retailer explore before deciding to sell direct through Amazon?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Starting with beauty allows Victoria’s Secret to test the market before expanding to the more complex apparel category. "
"...eventually Victoria’s Secret will need to work directly with customers to reinforce the relationship across the product lines."
"There are two ways to look at this decision: impact on revenue and impact on brand equity; Amazon can help with one but probably not the other."

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27 Comments on "Victoria’s Secret expects to have a beautiful experience on Amazon"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Now that Victoria’s Secret is separate from Bath & Body Works – which has a very large share of the personal care market via its body products – it makes sense to push beauty products more heavily. Their own stores will help with this, but a lot of them are fairly poor at showcasing beauty and generating impulse buys from non-core customers. Distributing on Amazon remedies this and should enlarge the audience and sales volumes. It will be interesting to see whether Victoria’s Secret opts to expand its Amazon offer to its core lingerie and intimates ranges.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I am typically always hesitant to allow the fox into the henhouse and feel like selling on Amazon is a very risky strategy but, in this case, I think VS may be on to something. They are clearly listening to their customers and in my opinion – although I suspect other BrainTrust members may disagree – the risk to the brand is minimal. Extending their reach and acquiring more customers seems important to VS right now, and Amazon’s marketplace helps them accomplish that objective.

Christine Russo
BrainTrust

This is a great opportunity for VS. They do not have the brand equity of a Nike and their concern is reach and CAC and this definitely boosts their reach. They also can sell to customers “where they are” – going to where the customer is. Specifically for VS, the reward outweighs the risk.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

There is nothing sexy about buying on Amazon, unless you consider ease of shopping and fast delivery sexy. And maybe some people do.

It’s so easy to buy on Amazon that it makes other online buying feel cumbersome. Victoria’s Secret starting its partnership with beauty products on Amazon makes more sense than with lingerie. VS needs to hang on to the feeling its brand creates for those items; its own website is more suited for that experience.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

I wear Nike sneakers and have for years. It is time to buy the next pair. I went to Amazon and Zappos. The selection is just leftovers. I have no desire to go to a different site. Do I switch brands to one that is available on Amazon/Zappos?

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

If Nike is your go-to brand but the selection isn’t good then I’d find another site. Amazon may be easy but you don’t look like a leftover kind of guy to me!

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Thank you.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

I agree. At first I thought they were putting everything on Amazon and thought “What a comedown for the brand” but beauty products aren’t a bad idea. High margin, pretty commonly sold through other channels.

VS is at a crossroads I don’t envy. The devil or the deep blue sea.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

I have to give them credit for the changes in-store. I visited our mall yesterday and the Victoria’s Secret store was all about inclusion and diversity. There were still photos and mannequins that were skeletal, but there were plenty more that looked more like the customers on the sales floor.

Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

That’s really good to know!

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

It is interesting how different brands either embrace or distance themselves from Amazon. To me, it’s simple. Go where your customers are. If the Amazon channel works, keep using it. If it doesn’t work, then stop using it.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

It can’t be better said — “Go where your customers are. If the Amazon channel works, keep using it. If it doesn’t work, then stop using it.”

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Victoria’s Secret clearly wants to expand their horizons. Amazon is certainly a conduit that enables reaching customers that are not already in their stores. And this new e-commerce business may ultimately help populate the stores. Beauty may not have sizing issues, but I have to believe there is still a lot of in-person validation that takes place in the beauty category. Amazon offers access to customers. There may be trade offs in the process, but access is a pretty powerful motivator.

Dion Kenney
BrainTrust
5 months 3 days ago

There is little question that selling on Amazon is both a blessing (the largest online shopping audience) and a curse (fees, negotiations, leverage, etc.) Big name, high quality brands have an advantage in selling on Amazon in that they are a known quantity and audiences will seek them out. They’ll still have to negotiate hard with a sophisticated Amazon team on fees, placement, etc.

Small, lesser known brands have to compete for audience attention based on price, features, etc. rather than name recognition and brand loyalty. They will have very little leverage in negotiating with Amazon, but are generally accustomed to fighting in a competitive market. It is likely to be the mid-size, not-giant brands that will truly struggle in the Amazon world, where the power of search optimization and name recognition cleave the world into “A-listers” and “everyone else.”

Perry Kramer
BrainTrust

In this case this appears to be a good move to add the less complex products and extend the brand. Like many other retailers VS may limit its product exposure on Amazon to the fragrances and other beauty products. Amazon offers an excellent platform for VS to gain incremental sales in the fragrances area through name recognition without adding any risk to its intimate products brands. They will need to be careful to not confuse the customer on where to shop for what instead of everything in one place.

Melissa Minkow
BrainTrust

Victoria’s Secret relied so heavily on mall traffic that retailers simply can’t benefit from much anymore. Amazon simulates a mall in that sense for many brands today. This move also makes a lot of sense given that VS knows its shoppers are searching for it first on Amazon. You have to go where the customer expects to find you.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

A bit of “dancing with the devil” when retailers decide to try to partner with Amazon. When retailers are deciding to work with Amazon on any project, including merchandising and fulfillment, they need to ask themselves how much of their proprietary strategy they are exposing. Target learned this the hard way in the early 2000s when they partnered with Amazon and almost gave away the store. This effort seems very focused and feels to me like it will have more upside for VS than risk.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

As Victoria’s Secret evolves beyond men’s jiggly angel fantasies to serving strong, real and diverse women, it needs a mass platform. These ladies are already shopping on Amazon.

Starting with beauty allows Victoria’s Secret to test the market before expanding to the more complex apparel category.

Expect more “shop-in-shop” strategies like this on Amazon to maximize retailers’ omnichannel reach where we already shop.

George Anderson
Staff

Amazon is shipping VS’s beauty products. I wonder how long before the Buy with Prime button shows up on the VS site?

Phil Chang
BrainTrust

This is a classic case of “what do you want?” If it’s volume, one could do very well on Amazon. BUT if it’s about keeping your customers, retaining your consumers and helping them understand your products more, Amazon is the wrong place for that. Amazon is interested in Amazon. Everyone selling in Amazon is helping Amazon first, themselves second.

Victoria’s Secret has a great set of consumers that love the product. Does volume mean that much more than lifetime value?

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Like Dave Bruno, I’m not a huge fan of “deals” with Amazon which has a long track record of “partnering” with another retailer just long enough to learn the rules of the road in a category which they then promptly use to run over their “partner.” But, in this case the risk seems relatively low and the potential reward seems (again) relatively positive — notice I didn’t say high. VS has got to reinvent its retail model, its brand, its in-store experience, and its go-to-market strategy. Sticking a toe in the admittedly perilous Amazon waters might work out for them. In general, I would advise any retailer to only do business with Amazon with eyes wide open, especially the ones in the back of their head.

Rachelle King
BrainTrust
There are two ways to look at this decision: impact on revenue and impact on brand equity; Amazon can help with one but probably not the other. Since their spin-off from Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret has to show financial viability as an independent company. Throwing easily shoppable products on Amazon with low barriers to trial is one fast and relatively easy way to boost percentage of total e-commerce revenue. This growing stat will not hurt in their financial updates. However Victoria’s Secret has a highly aspirational brand image that has kept their brand equity high, if not altogether sadly unattainable. Even while they work to make the brand more accessible, Amazon comes with its own cachet; the best and not so good, at the same time being a part of buying nearly anything online. This move may swing the pendulum on brand image faster and farther down the spectrum than what will be helpful for this brand. This is not easy to pull back from. There is a reason Nike removed its presence… Read more »
Joel Rubinson
BrainTrust

I believe that marketers have underestimated the brand building value inside of Amazon. So not only is VS expanding distribution (a good thing) but having an Amazon storefront is a progressive way to think about brand building. Bravo.

Brent Biddulph
BrainTrust

To be honest, have mixed feelings about this.

As a shopper (for my wife and daughters for PJs, slippers every holiday season), I became very frustrated with perpetual out of stocks right at opening of the seasonal intro and promo period. Poorest demand forecasting capabilities (and out-of-stocks) in retail I have ever witnessed. They need help.

On the other hand, once traditional retailers start “leaning in” with Amazon, this tends to to signal desperation of those that have failed to invest in their own digital transformation — witness what is happening at Kohl’s.

At this point, it’s probably the best, last play for VS to make at this point.

Mark Price
BrainTrust

Selling through Amazon, in a short term, does provide more benefit than risk for Amazon. This is a good way to build critical mass for a growing product line. Note however that Amazon restricts the amount of customer information that a company like Victoria’s Secret can obtain from the transaction, making it difficult for the company to conduct cross sell or loyalty efforts that are not within the Amazon framework. As a result, while marketing through Amazon is a great strategy to build volume, eventually Victoria’s Secret will need to work directly with customers to reinforce the relationship across the product lines.

Gwen Morrison
BrainTrust

This moves gets broad exposure to Victoria’s Secret beauty products with their own storefront on Amazon. The VS brand imagery combined with the category price point offers shoppers an easy “I deserve it” treat, which may prove to be right in step with the economy.

Allison McGuire
BrainTrust

There are so many things to consider when selling through Amazon. It certainly opens up an audience that is massive, but it doesn’t allow you to create a customized experience that is consistent with your brand. You are limited by their page layouts and forced to conform to their specifications. Not to mention the fees that continue to go up and up! I think Victoria Secret is desperate to grab back some lost sales and although they may find success with the beauty line, they will probably stop there.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Starting with beauty allows Victoria’s Secret to test the market before expanding to the more complex apparel category. "
"...eventually Victoria’s Secret will need to work directly with customers to reinforce the relationship across the product lines."
"There are two ways to look at this decision: impact on revenue and impact on brand equity; Amazon can help with one but probably not the other."

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