It's Thanksgiving, and perhaps more to the point, it's Black Friday eve; the opening ceremony to the biggest shopping weekend of the year. We've spent the last 2 months creating digital holiday campaigns for many of our beloved clients. For those of us in e-commerce, it's Super Bowl Sunday, and we're suiting up. It's almost game time.
As I reflect on the weeks and months of strategy, content and design our clients have invested in, the countless hours they've dedicated to developing extra product, often by hand, to meet demand, the love they infuse into each bottle, the soul they pour into each idea, and yes, even the tears they shed when ideas became reality, I am filled with pride that we get to be a part of bringing healthy beauty to people all over the world. Indeed, I'm grateful this Thanksgiving. But, my heart sinks a little too. Because I know that while these hard working entrepreneurs are doing everything in their power to share their passion and knowledge, a great majority of customers will sidestep indie businesses and hit up the world's largest one stop shop instead - Amazon.
Don't get me wrong. I shop on Amazon and I'm an Amazon Prime Member. I buy books, mostly, and occasionally electronics and office supplies. This summer, for our 13-week Meditation Workshop, I bought meditation cushions and got a great bulk rate. I used to have a healthy list of Subscribe-And-Save items, until I realized that I wasn’t really saving very much and had more than I needed. So, I've explored, and found what works for me. But top on my list of "things I don't buy on Amazon" are Beauty Products.
Here's 12 reasons why.
Source of Origin. When I buy anything from Amazon, I'm not 100% certain where it's coming from. Is it coming from the manufacturer? Or a third-party reseller? Is it coming from Amazon via another e-commerce retailer that has an Amazon store? Or, perhaps from an Amazon prime warehouse? I don't really know, and when I'm buying ink for my printer, I don't really care. But, when it comes to my beauty products, origin matters. I always buy natural, green beauty products, and naturally, they have a shorter shelf than conventional beauty products. I want to feel confident that I am going to get the freshest batch, and I simply don’t trust that this is the case when I purchase beauty through Amazon.
Storage. Because I don’t have total confidence in where the product is coming from, I don’t know how my product has been stored. Again, when it comes to office supplies, cleaning supplies and books, I don't care. But when it comes to my beauty products, I want assurance that they have spent the minimum amount of time in transit and that they have been kept in ideal storage conditions.
Price. Ironic, I know. We go to Amazon to get the best price, but often times, the price of beauty products on Amazon is higher than the MSRP offered directly by the brand, especially for luxury beauty.
Lack of Ingredient Transparency. There isn't a clean beauty department on Amazon, at least not yet. They have a ‘Natural Beauty Shop’, but no qualifying information or criteria that assures me the products selected are genuinely clean. While I have a pretty deep knowledge of ingredients and can generally spot undesirable ingredients on an ingredient list, most of us can’t without a little help. I want to make sure product I buy meet a certain ingredient standard and that’s hard, if not impossible, to do on Amazon.
Not Eco-Conscious. Amazon wins awards for speed, but not efficiency. They often use far more packaging than necessary, especially with small items, like vitamins. For such a progressive company, I'd like to see more intention put into eco-friendly solutions.
Experience. As in, there isn't one. When ordering beauty, it’s nice to know that someone packed my product with my experience in mind, including product information or samples.
Missed Promotional Opportunities. Specialty retailers and direct to consumer beauty brands offer promotions that give me something extra when I shop. It might not be big, but it is nice to get a little something extra with my purchase so I can learn more about a brand or new product.
Product Knowledge. When it comes to beauty product knowledge, I like to read about a brand and their philosophy on beauty. If I am searching for a new product, or researching a new brand, Amazon doesn’t have the level of information I need to make an educated decision.
Thin Selection. Because Amazon is, for the most part, still heavily stocked with conventional beauty brands, it sort of defeats the point of one-stop shopping. Amazon only carries a few of the beauty brands I am interested in and a lot of natural beauty brands don’t sell on Amazon for a variety of reasons.
Giving Back. A lot of my favorite brands give back a portion of their sales to a cause, like Violets are Blue or Beauty Heroes Seasonal Discovery. Knowing that a brand is supporting a cause might be just the reason I need to push me into purchasing. If Amazon gave a portion of their sales to a cause I wanted to support, that might sway me to buy more from them (except Beauty).
Personal Connection. Amazon feels like a marketplace for big box brands, and I want my beauty to feel more personal. I like to know who is making my products and I want to feel connected to what I put on my skin. Buying my ‘personal’ care and beauty products on Amazon feels a little impersonal to me.
Support Indie. Call me old fashioned, but I like to support independent beauty brands and retailers who are helping to make an impact. I feel good knowing that my purchase is helping support another human being, or a small company, and that in turn, they are helping to sustain their suppliers. I like feeling like I'm an important part of this chain, and that my purchasing decisions matter.
Look, I know that some indie beauty brands have chosen to sell on Amazon. Cool. It's a business decision, and I'm all for new distribution channels and revenue streams. But, to truly support the Indie Beauty industry, and the brands that I love, I will always sidestep the one-stop-shop and hit up the brands' sites, instead. And on the occasion that I go on a multi-brand shopping spree, I'll shop with a trusted e-tail partner, like Beauty Heroes.
To me, this is a win-win, and it's one small way I can vote, with my dollar, for the kind of world I want to live in.
Happy Conscious Shopping!