November 9, 2011, 3:39 PM

BenefitCosmetics.com relaunches with an aim to expand globally

The cosmetics manufacturer will roll out country-specific e-commerce sites.

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Benefit Cosmetics relaunched its U.S. site in August.

Benefit Cosmetics, a manufacturer of premium cosmetics, introduced its first e-commerce site in China last spring and relaunched its U.S. e-retail site in August. Both operate on the same e-commerce platform, as will additional country-specific sites the company plans to create and roll out in the coming months.

Valerie Hoecke, vice president of digital experience and commerce at Benefit Cosmetics, says the company’s objectives with the new platform and the redesign are to increase sales globally, increase e-commerce conversions and to act as the primary brand touchpoint for consumers, especially to shoppers in markets where Benefit doesn’t operate bricks-and-mortar stores. “Commerce is very important, but like many brands or manufacturers, it is a big brand-building opportunity for us to express who we are and what we stand for,” she says.

Benefit had operated BenefitCosmetics.com, its U.S. web site, and BenefitCosmetics.co.uk, its U.K. web site, on Amazon.com Inc.’s e-commerce platform since 2006, Hoecke says. The retailer went shopping for a new platform when the company decided it wanted more design and operational control as it put more emphasis on global expansion. “We were looking for more flexibility in design, and to have more ownership over the multilingual, multi-country site experience,” Hoecke says.

Benefit decided to move its operations to the Hybris Software e-commerce platform, Hoecke says, because it has localization capabilities, such as Chinese character sets, built into the platform and because the company has a track record of running e-commerce sites in the countries that Benefit is targeting for online sales. Hoecke says the platform also allowed Benefit greater control over the look of the site than other e-commerce platforms it vetted.

It took about eight months to set the creative direction, write the site code and integrate operations before the e-commerce site launched in China in April. Hoecke says Benefit started with the Chinese site primarily because Benefit had no Chinese e-retail site previously and thus it was not limited by existing contracts with vendors. It also provided a more flexible deadline for launch as there was no pressure to move from a functioning site by a certain date.

It took about five months to get the new U.S. site ready, which had a hard deadline of Aug. 17 because that was when its U.S. contract with Amazon expired. Benefit’s U.K. web site continues to run on the Amazon platform but will eventually move to Hybris technology. Benefit also plans on developing a country-specific site on the Hybris platform for South Korean consumers. “E-commerce is ripe to grow in Asia and we want to be able to support those customers,” Hoecke says.

Benefit Cosmetics is a unit of LVMH, No. 38 in Internet Retailer’s Top 300 Europe Guide.

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