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How to Sell Skin Care Products Online: Beginner’s Guide

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The Insight

Interested in getting your skincare brand off the ground or stuck on how to boost your brand’s online sales? Keep reading for an in-depth look at how to sell skin care products online.

What is Skin Care, and Why Does it Matter?

It’s safe to say that caring for your skin is something that every human being has an interest in, more or less. Whether someone has a robust 12-step daily skincare routine or they’re a minimalist who is out the door with some moisturizer, everyone cares for their skin in some way and there is a skincare product out there for everyone. Some top concerns around skin include anti-aging, sun protection, hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone, acne and blemishes, skin texture, and the list goes on.

In recent years, you may have noticed that brands have emerged left and right in the beauty and skincare space. In fact, skincare makes up one of the largest sectors of the personal care industry; as of 2020, the skincare market estimated about $148 billion and is on track to reach $181 billion as of 2025 (Source: Euromonitor International). While the industry has gotten more saturated and therefore more competitive, don’t let this discourage you. There are plenty of ways to sell skincare products online and make your brand stand out — and we’re here to help.

How to Sell Skin Care Online

In a world where it sometimes feels like there are a thousand different cleansers for every skin type, selling skincare products online can feel exhausting. It might seem obvious, but if you want your online skincare business to grow, you need to first start with some research. You’ve already found the gap in the market, created your product line and nailed down your brand. You know selling online is right for you and you’re ready to watch your sales grow, but where to begin?

While finding your niche within the skincare industry is extremely important, performing an in-depth analysis of your most direct (and even indirect) competitors and studying customer behavior is going to be crucial as well. To sell your skincare products online you need to know where others are selling, too, and what drives customers to make purchases on certain platforms vs. others. Are the customers that would be interested in what you’re selling more visually driven and more likely to be influenced on Instagram? Or would they be allured by the convenience of shopping on Amazon? The good news (and the bad news) is that there are so many options available to you. Let’s talk about them and see what’s a good fit for your skincare brand. But we’ll get to that in a sec.

Branding & Content

Any successful brand you see online will first and foremost have a strong brand identity. How do you develop a strong brand identity for your skincare brand? By creating quality content, knowing your products, being transparent about ingredients and taking excellent photos. You need to remember that customers who are looking for your products are shopping for their skin — something that is extremely different for each individual person and takes a decent amount of consideration before purchasing. What is going to make a customer want to buy your product vs. a competitor’s?

When it comes to creating class content, start with photography and video. Customers want to know what your product actually looks like, what kind of packaging it comes in, what the texture of the product is like, how it’s used on different skin types, and even see the product in action. If possible, try to show the effectiveness of your skincare products by using before and after photos, too. Skin is a big deal — you can’t sell skincare products online without thinking about how those products are presented.

Beyond photography and video, customers want to get skin-deep (pun intended) and find out what exactly is inside your products, without the fluffy lingo. You should be upfront about the ingredients you’re using, if your product or company has any clean certifications, and disclose any chemicals or fragrances that customers could be sensitive to. Transparency is key, especially in today’s market. There are “clean beauty” and “vegan skincare” lines popping up everywhere, every day — so don’t just talk about it, but really be about it.

Creating quality custom content is no small feat and definitely takes time and resources. Whether you’re doing it all solo or hiring a team, make sure whoever you work with understands your brand and what is important to you and your customers. Authenticity is the key to brand integrity. The more you dedicate to creating a consistent, cohesive content strategy that’s grounded in facts and your brand ethos, the easier it will be to grow sales.

Now let’s get into where you can sell your skin care products. Like we said, there are plenty of options available, whether you’re just getting started or you’re looking to expand your reach.

Ecommerce Website

An ecommerce website is one of the quickest and easiest methods to sell skincare products online and build your brand. It’s usually where every business starts before exploring other options, like online retailers or social media.

There are definitely pros and cons to ecommerce websites. Like we mentioned, setup is usually easy, especially now that there are numerous vendors that have simple, customizable templates to help you get started on your website without needing a wide knowledge of web design or the help of a web developer. However, while most ecommerce sites are user-friendly and it’s fairly easy to sell products online, they don’t provide many options to do complicated designs or give you much control over the features they offer, so depending on what you are trying to achieve you can be limited to out-of-the-box features or functionalities. If you’re looking to have more enhanced capabilities that go beyond what standard ecommerce sites offer, it will require some investment.

In any case, ecommerce websites don’t have the overhead costs of a traditional brick and mortar retail store and you do have the potential to reach a much wider audience with an online store, but it will require a strong digital marketing strategy. Successfully driving traffic to a brand new website can be an expensive endeavor. There are new websites popping up every single day, so simply relying on setting up an ecommerce site will not be enough to cut through the noise. While it is possible to achieve sales growth, expand beyond your local audience and reach audiences in other markets, investing in digital marketing and using web analytics tools to truly tailor your marketing efforts to your core audience will be the driving force of growing your sales online.

Social Media

Social media has become more than a platform for communicating and connecting with others. It can now be a profitable place to both promote your business and sell your products. It costs nothing to sign up for a social media account, and you have access to a huge reach of customers to discover your brand. And you don’t have to drive yourself crazy trying to sell on all of them — by using data analytics tools, you can figure out the source of where most of your customers are visiting your website from and then decide which social media platform is right for you. If you go with Instagram, for example, you can sell products and have guests check out right on the platform.

There is a downside to relying on selling skin care products on social media, however. It becomes time-consuming if you don’t have fully dedicated efforts, like a social media person or agency, to build and maintain a social media presence online. It takes time to not only create quality content, but to plan it, publish it, and keep up with customers and followers interacting with you on your social media accounts. That being said, once it receives the time it deserves, you can increase your brand awareness authentically and grow your product sales.

Affiliate Programs

Social media is a great segue into affiliate programs. If you’re not familiar with the term “affiliate marketing,” it simply means an associate program where an online merchant (that’s you) partners with an affiliate with a strong following — like a popular social media beauty influencer or online skincare blogger, for example — and pay a percentage of commission for every sale that was brought in by any links they shared to your skincare products online. The positive to this is that you can increase your brand awareness by a lot if you partner with the right affiliates who have massive influence in the beauty and skincare space.

Before jumping into affiliate programs, you should know that affiliates should not be your main source of income if you are just starting to sell skin care products online. Once your brand has a decent amount of online traffic, an organic social media following of its own, and a steady stream of income, it’s more likely that an affiliate program will work to your benefit as an incremental stream of revenue. Your affiliates need to be incentivized to partner with you, so it would be worth exploring this option once your brand has a bit more skin in the game.

Online Retailers

Over 88% of 16-35 year olds use their smartphone to read private emails. Marketers who still deprioritize the mobile version of their email campaigns should urgently reconsider their approach. If your slick designs look great on desktop but rather shabby on mobile, you can use tools like Klaviyo to create a mobile and a desktop version for specific elements. This way, you can guarantee the optimal mobile display even for more complicated elements.

More and more users are using also dark mode, so you should optimize your emails for this as well. One of the golden rules is to use png files for images, as they have a transparent background and thus blend in better with the dark design. In general, you should always test the email on your smartphone before sending it or use tools to view the email on different email clients and devices.

Much like ecommerce websites, third-party online retailers offer an ideal customer experience and the ability to reach a wide audience. With an industry as enormous and globally appealing as skincare, it’s hard not to want to get in on the growth potential of an online retailer. In fact, by 2025, skincare is set to be the star of the global beauty industry, and sales are estimated to reach $181 billion USD (Source: Euromonitor International). If you want to learn how to sell skin care products online, chances are you are going to be interested in partnering with online retailers who have a massive consumer reach.

Speaking of massive consumer reach — did you know that the largest online global marketplace is Amazon? In 2020 alone, Amazon captured 32% of all beauty and skincare bought online with $23 billion in sales, a 45% increase from 2019 (Source: BeautyMatter). For a long time, beauty and skincare brands hesitated to sell products on Amazon due to concerns around lack of brand integrity and control of resellers. However, many have come around and realized that online consumerism is here to stay, especially given the convenience and spike of online shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, even if a customer intends to make their purchase online elsewhere, 63% of customers start their search on Amazon (Source: Statista).

Aside from the global reach, Amazon also opens up a breadth of merchandising and marketing opportunities for brands. Companies that fear that their brand identity will get diluted now have the opportunity to create custom-branded storefronts that elevate your skincare brand’s presence online and educate customers about your range of products. You can add landing pages, custom widgets, custom navigation and more to optimize your storefront’s user experience on Amazon, create and upload branded content, categorize your products and highlight seasonal deals and new products.

What's Next

Now that you heard some of the options that are available to you, how will you plan to sell your skincare products online? Will you:

  • Set up an ecommerce website? Simple setups, low costs and the ability to customize your website to your liking — ecommerce hosting sites like Shopify make selling skincare seamless.
  • Take your skincare routine to social media? If you can create beautiful, engaging content and keep up with maintaining a strong social media presence, this could be your ticket to increasing your brand awareness and your sales.
  • Go with an affiliate program? It’s no secret that influencers persuade even the most stubborn of online shoppers to finally buy that moisturizer they’ve been eyeing. If partnered with the right affiliate, these programs could be a great revenue tool.
  • Sell your skincare products on a third-party online retailer, like Amazon? Amazon has a massive global reach as the largest online marketplace in the world. To boost your sales on Amazon, agencies like Front Row are here to help you take control of your brand, optimize your storefronts and product listings and achieve your maximum growth potential.

And there you have it — an introduction to some of the services you can access to sell skincare products online. There is, of course, a wide range of resources available to help grow your sales, but this toolkit is a good starting point for you and your business.