MILAN — LuisaViaRoma is making its debut in the beauty category.Today, the Italian retailer will unveil a new section of its e-commerce, which was launched in 2000, that will carry a wide selection of beauty products. The dedicated shopping area will debut with a range of 50 to 60 brands, with the number expected to double by the end of the year.The assortment includes all beauty categories, including makeup, fragrance, skin care, hair care and accessories, as well as shaving products for men.”We took over a year to develop the project and the decision to launch beauty is a response to the market’s demand,” said LuisaViaRoma chief executive officer Andrea Panconesi. “From online, people expect to find everything in the same place. My goal with luisaviaroma.com is to have a 360-degree product offering focused on the niche, high-end segment of the market.”The online store’s assortment counts brands positioned in different segments of the beauty industry. They include hair-care label Ouai, premium brand Ellis Faas, Tom Ford Beauty and Balmain Paris hair, dermatology-inspired Mimi Luzon and Dr. Barbara Sturm, as well as natural products from the likes of Grown Alchemist and RMS beauty.While for the launch the store won’t carry any brands exclusively, a few beauty labels will make their Italian debuts exclusively on luisaviaroma.com by the end of the year.The beauty section, which according to Panconesi is expected to account for 5 percent of the company’s total business by the end of the first year, is meant to address a wide range of customers, with a focus on Millennials. “They are always online, they live on social media,” he said.In addition, Panconesi sees great potential in the male audience. “I think men can be great beauty costumers online since most of them are not confident enough to go to the pharmacy and ask for cosmetic products….Tthey don’t feel it is masculine,” he commented.LuisaViaRoma will mainly carry its beauty offering online, even if Panconesi revealed that “we will find the right way to also bring a selection of products into the Via Roma store.”In addition, the retailer will sell beauty products in a new multifunctional space that is expected to bow next year in a residential area in Florence.According to Panconesi, the 21,528-square-foot venue, which will offer a wide range of fashion, beauty and interior design products, will respond to the needs of “the second phase of the digital revolution.”“Social networks have deeply changed the lifestyle habits of the new generations and have strongly influenced they way they think. I think the phone is perfect for a fast and efficient communication, but I don’t think it is the best to develop social relationships,” he said.“My next big project will be creating physical spaces where people can actually use their technical devices to communicate, where people can get closer without setting aside their digital-focused habits. I really think the future will be the point of convergence between the solitary world of social networks and human relationships. I can actually see spaces where you, a fashion lover, can meet other people sharing the same passion. There, you use your social networks but you do that surrounded by people like you.”The importance of mobile devices is reflected by the fact that 50 percent of luisaviaroma.com’s sales are made via mobile and 25 percent of those are finalized through the app the company launched early this year. Fifty-five percent of the e-tailer’s sales are of women’s products and 45 percent of men’s items.In 2017, LuisaViaRoma generated revenues of 130 million euros and Panconesi expects to double his company’s turnover within the next three years. “This forecast is based on the future development of specific projects,” he said.Europe represents 70 percent of the company’s business, with Italy and the U.K. as the best-performing countries, while the U.S. account 15 percent of sales.According to Panconesi, in the future the company will expand its business in the Far East, especially in China where, according to Panconesi, the customers’ habits online are very specific.“When they approach an e-tailer they buy only products they already know very well,” he said. “But, at the same time, we are seeing that when they get used to an online store and they start trusting it, they take the courage to purchase brands they have never seen before.”Asked about the possibility of taking on outside investors, Panconesi said he is not considering selling the company or doing an initial public offering. “This is a family business and it will remain like this,” he said.
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