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Sephora partners with Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com

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After launching its own online shopping website, Sephora partners with Chinese ecommerce giant, JD.com.

Sephora worldwide

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Sephora is a French stores chain of perfumes and cosmetic products built in 1970. It is one of the biggest beauty product retailers within Europe. In 1997, the chain went into partnership with the worldwide luxury group, LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton).

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Sephora decided to export its brand in United States in 1998 and today, it pursue its expansion in Asia. Within Europe, the brand totalized 600 stores. Its unique concept of a space dedicated to beauty offering around 250 different brands for all budget. The Champs-Élysées store in Paris is one of the biggest Sephora store thanks to its 16.000 references.

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A few years ago, the brand decided to open its own online shopping website in order to increase its sales and to offer its clients the possibility to buy beauty products easier and faster without having to move outside. Today, Sephora counts 17 online shopping websites and 10 different languages.

Sephora in China

Since 2005, Sephora decided to sport her brand in China. 175 stores had been built. Nevertheless, some of them closed due to a general cosmetics products sales decline. But the brand isn’t discouraged. Indeed, it forecasts to open some others stores but this time, they will be based in smaller cities. Thus, it would totalized 200 Sephora stores within China.

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In 2013, Sephora decided to launch its own online shopping website in China. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Indeed, in China, Sephora has to confront the Chinese cosmetics giant from Beijing, Jumei.

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This way, today, the brand changed its mind and decided to go into partnership with the second ecommerce website in China : JD.com. If Sephora chose the second Chinese ecommerce platform and not the first one, it’s because JD.com is more involved in the counterfeiting fight.

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The group proposed on sale hundreds of brands from the less populars to the most well known worldwide, that’s why it doesn’t want to take risks that Chinese conflate Sephora and fake products. According to Anne Véronique Bruel, President of Sephora Asia, “Sephora is celebrated to propose the biggest worldwide brand’s beauty products. I’m sure that together we will be able to give Chinese consumers a global online shopping experience without having to fear fakes.”

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Through JD.com, Sephora will propose to its Chinese clients exclusive preview showing creations that just China and its inhabitants will benefit,  just like it was already able to do it with its website. Shen Hao Yu, JD Mall PDG announced, “Our direct partnership with Sephora is an extra guarantee for Chinese cosmetics buyers to find through JD.com, an amazing website to buy the most sough after brands’ products.”

Online cosmetics sales boom in China

In 2013, the cosmetics sales in boutiques totalized US $32.3 billion. Then, in April 2014, the online cosmetics sales represented US $1.35 billion.

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Nevertheless, cosmetics sales in boutiques dropped in China. Indeed, Chinese people are more and more connected and prefer order online rather than moving outside. According to Euromonitor datas, in stores, sales dropped from 88% in 2009 to 70% in 2014. Whereas, online sales rose from 0.9% in 2009 to 15.5% in 2014.

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In China online sales are increasing, several ecommerce websites are getting created every day. Today, the two Chinese leaders on the online business market are first, eBay’s rival, Alibaba and second, Sephora’s new partner, JD.com.

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Sephora is a French beauty products retailers. While it is already really popular in Europe and also in America, this one wants to distinguish itself in Asia. If in some Asian countries, it’s quite an easy task, in China this is not. Indeed, the group has to face several factors such as counterfeiting, online censorship and Chinese consumers’ behavior. For 2 years now of establishment in China, the brand learnt that it is necessary for her to get affiliate with a Chinese ecommerce website . L’Oréal already did it by going into partnership with taobao.com. 

These past few years have been under the sign of e-commerce in China. 15% of the transactions in China are e-shopping related… this offers a whole range of possibility for cosmetic brands as long as they are ready to be digital instead of physical. Digital yes, 100% digital? Not necessarily. What seems to really works in China is hybrid solution offering the physical experience of retail shops/buzz mixed with pure online solution. The solution is

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