With Friday’s launch, about 120 different products including branded fragrances, lotions, body scrubs and body washes will be available on a new Victoria’s Secret “storefront” on Amazon, the company said.
The intent will be to expand the offerings over time, based on what customers are looking for, said Greg Unis, CEO of Victoria’s Secret’s beauty business. And that could eventually entail adding some of the company’s bras, underwear and lounge wear, he said.
The move by Victoria’s Secret into wholesale is emblematic of a dynamic that many retailers are grappling with today. Brands that for years operated purely by selling direct to consumers — through their own stores and on their own websites — are seeking partnerships with big-box retailers such as Target or department stores like Nordstrom to also offer their wares.
At the same time, retailers such as Nike and Ralph Lauren that pushed heavily into wholesale are trying to scale back in a bid to regain control over pricing and profits. But the consensus seems to be that some wholesale is better than none at all.
According to Unis, many shoppers are already visiting Amazon in search of Victoria’s beauty items, such as its popular Bombshell fragrance line, only to find a litany of merchandise sold by third parties.
“Amazon is a free marketplace and anybody is allowed to sell [there],” Unis said in an interview. “We knew there was a strong appetite by just being observant on the range of products that were already being sold.”
Logistically, he added, it also was smoother for Victoria’s to start with beauty instead of intimates and clothing because there isn’t a sizing element involved with lotions and perfumes “It’s a much easier business to go after quickly,” he said about the beauty products.
Beauty sales amounted to about $900 million in fiscal 2021, accounting for roughly 15% of the company’s total revenue in North America, according to a June investor presentation. About 40% of beauty transactions took place online.
Since Victoria’s split from Bath & Body Works to become an independent company last August, it has pursued a number of new initiatives to try to boost sales and win customers. It invested $18 million for a minority interest in the popular women’s swimwear brand Frankie’s Bikinis, and it launched a gender-neutral brand for tweens called Happy Nation, which targets an even younger audience than its Pink brand.
The hope is that a deal with Amazon could take Victoria’s Secret’s beauty business to new heights. Currently, customers can find beauty shop-in-shops in all the retailer’s stores.
To be sure, for a number of retailers, the strategy of selling on Amazon hasn’t always worked out.
Companies including Ikea, Nike, Birkenstock and PopSockets have pulled away from the e-commerce giant in recent years. Businesses often try to partner with Amazon to fight counterfeiters and unverified third-party sellers. But that also means they lose access to certain consumer data and potentially how their brands are positioned on Amazon’s website.
Still, Victoria’s Unis sees the e-commerce giant as the best fit and the retailer’s sensible next step. He said it’s a chance for Victoria’s to raise its brand awareness in beauty, which is still “relatively low” compared with its lingerie.
“We’re expanding our universe of consumers,” he said. “And the way that we’ve set up the shop on the Amazon site, it almost feels like an extension of our own direct-to-consumer website.”