2020 altered the retail landscape as we once knew it, likely forever. But yes, while the importance of direct-to-consumer channels and ecommerce is much more pronounced, those alternative shopping avenues haven’t eliminated the need for brick-and-mortar storefronts. Instead, they’ve changed how brands approach physical shops, bringing a jolt of digital capability to in-person retail.
Beautycounter’s latest location is an example of that fusion. The store, which opened in December in the Venice Beach area of Los Angeles, contains a “livestream, shoppable content studio” that allows for in-store content creation that can be broadcast to customers outside of the store, aiding in the brand’s ecommerce efforts.
The store, based in the brand’s hometown, came out of an effort to “build a sense of community around our shop in a post-Covid world,” said Gregg Renfrew, founder and CEO of Beautycounter. And livestreaming is how the physical store aims to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping during and after the Covid-19 period.
It’s a fitting mission for Beautycounter. The brand, founded in 2013, is one of the most high-profile in the “clean beauty” space. Beautycounter employs independent consultants to sell its products, in addition to traditional and digital retail channels. Because of that consultant model, community is particularly important for the brand. That sense of bringing consumers and products together in an organic, responsible way is also reflected in the Beautycounter’s efforts towards educating consumers on the potentially harmful ingredients often used in makeup, skincare or other personal care items.
The studio will allow Beautycounter consultants, staff or other influencers to livestream from within the store’s four walls, and use it as a ‘prop’ of sorts in their videos. When pointing out a product in stores, online viewers will then be able to shop it at home. A fact of brick-and-mortar, said Renfrew, is that you can’t reach everyone. This will allow consumers, no matter where they’re located, to experience the Beautycounter storefront.
“We believe that your store environment should fully demonstrate your brand and help clearly articulate it to the consumer,” said Renfrew. “But we also have been watching the trends coming out of Asia, seeing people of influence coming into stores and being able to interact with their respective communities, have this two way dialogue that people are really craving and create a shoppable interaction within the four walls of our store.”
Indeed, incorporating livestreaming into Beautycounter’s newest store isn’t just about creating a sense of community, but staying on the cutting edge of retail trends. According to Gartner, livestream commerce was a $60 billion industry in 2019, though only $1 billion of that was spent in the U.S. That number undoubtedly increased in 2020, and experts are forecasting that livestream commerce to become a bigger force stateside in 2021.
Anthony Sperduti, founder of creative studio Mythology, that partnered with Beautycounter to bring the store to life, said that creating experiences that allow for greater levels of consumer connection is particularly important for a mission-driven brand, in turning consumers into “zealots and believers” for a brand’s cause.
“When you have an opportunity to meet the founder, meet the CEO, meet the product developer, the people that are actually behind the scenes, that’s going to be extremely compelling for today’s consumer,” added Renfrew.