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Carbon Beauty Breaks the Amazon Mold with New Clean Beauty Portal

Published November 15, 2021
Published November 15, 2021
Carbon Beauty

It’s not easy being first, but in the case of Carbon Beauty – a clean beauty retail platform that sells 80+ clean beauty brands on Amazon and is expected to reach $22M in sales this year – it was worth it to turn the Amazon third-party model on its head by designing a robust, customer-focused storefront for its clean brands within Amazon. It’s “essentially a website within a website,” said Carbon Beauty founder and CEO Dan Sudman, who developed the storefront in-house with his team this past year. BeautyMatter caught up with Sudman to find out what it is like to navigate the choppy Amazon waters when doing a large-scale project, and all the details about Carbon Beauty’s new Amazon clean beauty hub’s storefront.

Carbon Beauty has been selling clean beauty on Amazon for almost 8 years, why is this storefront just coming to fruition now?

Our new Amazon store page has been something we always envisioned would be the future of shopping on Amazon, but until now, Amazon’s system was incapable of bringing a storefront of this scale to fruition. Over the years, we had observed our customers shopping across our network of clean beauty partners, but the Amazon setup for doing so was far from user-friendly, and ultimately, proved to be highly inefficient and rather tedious for customers. We knew there was tremendous demand for a centralized resource within Amazon that would allow customers to seamlessly navigate across a strong network of clean beauty brands, without having to endlessly comb through Amazon’s search results. This became a possibility with Amazon’s introduction of their storefront feature.

Amazon first introduced the store page option a few years ago. It was specifically designed to allow brands to create a dedicated landing page within Amazon, which supported an aesthetic more in line with that of a retail site relative to the standard Amazon product page. The design and functionality of the store pages has evolved fairly rapidly over the years (at least in terms of Amazon’s usual pace), but it wasn’t until more recently that a retailer, like ourselves, could launch a more expansive storefront that could support 80+ partners all in one place.

How is the new Carbon Beauty storefront unique from what other third-party sellers provide on Amazon?

We deviated from the standard model of selling on Amazon when we initially launched our exclusive partnership model that allowed brands to tap into Amazon’s potential, but in a more tasteful and effective manner than what was being achieved on the platform at the time. This was highly atypical for Amazon and, quite frankly, Amazon simply wasn’t built for this type of business model, which is why the existing store page function for third-party sellers was so archaic. Who ever heard of customers being loyal to a specific third-party seller on Amazon? Virtually no one shopped on Amazon this way. It was predominantly a shopping search engine, and so it was not all that surprising that Amazon wouldn’t be rolling out helpful functionality well-suited to our needs anytime soon.

Most third-party sellers and agencies focused on Amazon either do not have this type of partnership model or their incentive structure results in just throwing products up on Amazon and hoping for the best. Given those more common approaches, we’re probably one of the few, if not the only, reseller who this type of storefront makes sense for and who can truly realize its benefits. We are effectively migrating the classic retail shopping experience, like that of a Credo or a Sephora, to the Amazon ecosystem. It’s a website within a website, in some sense, and I see the opportunities to further build it into something closely resembling a retail site only growing from here.

"We are already seeing the new storefront drive more sales across our brands and we expect this to pick up significantly in 2022 as we continue to build awareness amongst our customers."
By Dan Sudman, founder + ceo, Carbon Beauty

Why do you think this type of storefront works so well with Carbon Beauty but may not be relevant to other third-party sellers on Amazon?

The storefront is designed to further develop cross-brand shopping within our network of partners similar to a traditional retail site. If someone discovers True Botanicals on Amazon, they can also be directed to the Carbon Beauty store to shop across complementary clean beauty brands, all in one place. This streamlines the customer shopping experience on Amazon while also promoting additional exposure for our partners.

Given that most third-party sellers do not have this type of business model or network of partners, it’s unlikely their business would be able to support this type of centralized storefront in an effective form.

I think it's interesting that customers reach out to you, because traditionally there usually isn’t much customer service interaction on Amazon. How will your new storefront give customers the high touch they may receive at other clean beauty retailers outside the Amazon realm?

We have been working on additional methods to increase engagement so our customers know who to contact for support and recommendations. We had seen this over the years in customers reaching out to us for product and brand recommendations, saying something along the lines of, “Hey, I love the ILIA mascara you guys sell and am looking for a clean shampoo to swap out for my old one. Who is your top natural hair care brand?” And in this instance, we would introduce them to hair brand Innersense. This type of interaction doesn’t usually occur in Amazon’s standard model of selling, and it makes sense that this type of customer engagement will only continue to grow with the CB store page and the new “Follow” feature Amazon has more recently unveiled, which will also allow for more targeted customer engagement.

What are you expecting this new storefront is going to do for your partners in terms of increasing sales?

We are already seeing the new storefront drive more sales across our brands and we expect this to pick up significantly in 2022 as we continue to build awareness amongst our customers. We also anticipate a continued increase in user adoption of storefront navigation, as it is still fairly new to the world of Amazon. Customers will benefit from a huge efficiency gain in their shopping as opposed to combing through endless Amazon search results, which can often be overwhelming, and so we expect both cross-brand orders and overall order values to increase.

I would assume the new storefront also gives customers a sense of confidence that the products they are buying are not grey market or counterfeit.

This is an interesting point and was at the heart of our business model when we first started, as both customers and brands shared this perception. We saw the chaotic representation brands had on Amazon at the time, which was leading to many of them not viewing it as a viable platform for their products, and so we set out to change that perception. Over the years, I think we have been able to redefine much of the stigma associated with selling on Amazon by showing that more luxury and image-conscious brands can thrive on the platform and do so in a way that doesn’t have a negative impact on the rest of their business, and will even improve it. The new storefront will continue to chip away at what is left of that stigma in showing brands what can be accomplished on Amazon if it is properly executed, while also helping customers feel assured they are buying from a trusted source.

Thank you for sharing Carbon Beauty’s exciting new Amazon storefront with us. To conclude, what do you want to communicate to brand partners and customers as the biggest benefit to utilizing Carbon Beauty’s new storefront?

For customers, the biggest benefit by far is the enhanced navigation and efficiency when shopping our Amazon store, which will only continue to improve over time, as well as having a more curated assortment of clean beauty brands that we are quite proud of. I think the best thing about Amazon can often be the worst thing in that it truly is “the everything store” and search can be daunting at times. Our store page should offer some relief to customers in that sense and I hope it continues to produce exciting brand discoveries for customers as well.

For partners, the storefront will continue to increase cross-brand exposure and sales so that as we continue to build this really fantastic network of partners in the clean beauty space, all of our partners can continue to grow together and benefit from each other’s growth.