How to Start an Online Beauty Supply Store - 1Digital® Agency
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how to start online beauty supply store

Beauty is one of the most popular eCommerce niches, as the industry is constantly innovating and new (and often better) products get released all the time.

Thinking about how to start an online beauty supply store of your own? This guide will outline everything you need to know, step-by-step.

First, let’s talk about sub-niches.

Starting Off Right: Pick a Lucrative Niche For Your Beauty Supply Store

It goes without saying that this is an incredibly competitive, saturated industry. There are quite literally thousands of brands out there, all competing against each other with very similar product offerings.

While new and innovative product ideas keep the industry fresh, how people search for these products hasn’t changed all that much. Face masks, body butter, makeup, shampoo. Depending on what you plan to specialize in, the competition could be quite tough.

This is why, based on what I’ve seen in this industry over the past few years, one of the most important things to consider when starting an online beauty supply store is picking a strong sub-niche and sticking to it.

What you really want to avoid in this industry is going too broad. There is nothing to help you stand out if you are selling the same catalog of products as everyone else.

Consider how many “beauty products” are available on stores like Amazon. You can’t hope to compete by casting a wide net, because generic keywords in this industry routinely rank among some of the most competitive in all of eCommerce.

For example, you would think a rather new and innovative product like a “vitamin C serum” would be relatively easy to rank for.

You might be surprised to learn that this keyword has a wild 74,000 monthly search volume in the US alone, and has a 85% difficulty score according to SEMrush, one of the leading SEO research tools.

To illustrate how insanely difficult this is, the phrase “apple pie,” which is about as generic as a keyword could possibly get and about a common a phrase as you might ever run into in the world of marketing, comes in at a 90,000 monthly search volume but only a 82% difficulty score.

It is literally, on paper, more difficult to rank in the top search results for a product like vitamin C serum than it is something as generic as apple pie. Crazy, right?

This illustrates the need to niche down in the beauty industry. If you are starting from scratch and don’t have much brand clout, you absolutely need to think about what kinds of products you will specialize in and how you will differentiate yourself from the competition with those products and keywords.

beauty products
If your product offering is too broad, it’s unlikely that you will be able to stand out. Focus on the different qualities or special use cases of your products and build out your categories and keywords from there.

Instead of offering everything from skincare to makeup, you might consider specializing only in very specific kinds of facial cleansers and tonics. Or, if your product selection is wide, consider focusing on the ingredients or how the products are manufactured, and using those terms to build your marketing around.

Either way, your product catalog (and therefore your keywords) should come across as curated, not generic. In this industry, unless you are well-established and have millions of dollars to put toward SEO and PPC, there’s no guaranteed way to get a true foothold with a generic catalog.

Building Your Online Store

Granted you already have products to work with (whether through sourcing them via wholesale or manufacturing them yourself), the next step is to actually start building your online location.

Some basic tips to set you in the right direction here:

  • Pick a domain that captures who you are and what you sell, but don’t overthink it.
  • Select your platform of choice, ideally BigCommerce or Shopify, as these platforms are suited for new merchants and with relatively little hassle you can spin up a new store in no time.
  • Make sure you have social media channels set up for your store, and get your Google integrations taken care of as well: Google Merchant Center, Search Console, and Google Analytics.
  • Use high-quality product images. If you are sourcing your products from a wholesale outlet and they don’t have the best photos, consider purchasing some of the products yourself and taking your own photos, or paying someone else to take them. Specifically in the beauty niche, you want your creatives to stand out. While they don’t necessarily need to look like they were taken in a professional studio, you do want to be mindful of how your brand appears in search engines and in social media. Unique photos are also great for SEO.
  • Double down on lifestyle content. Shy away from banners and copy that are overly salesy. Rather, focus on illustrating a certain lifestyle and telling a story. People will naturally resonate with a story that speaks to them, and will gravitate toward your products that way.
  • Create intuitive and well-structured navigation and categories for your products. This is essential for advertising and SEO, especially when you’re dealing with a competitive niche. Think about how to classify your products in a granular fashion, rather than creating generic categories like “Hair Care,” which you will have no chance of ranking for.
  • Don’t forget your custom support pages, such as refund policies, FAQs, contact pages, and similar sources of information. You want shoppers to feel supported and if anyone has a question, there should also be easy access to support chat or a number they can call.

To LLC or Not

Generally speaking when starting an online store, you will want to set up an LLC. This is not just to appear more legitimate, but also to limit your personal liability. You also don’t want to necessarily conflate your income with your business income.

What About Dropshipping?

If you aren’t yet capable of managing any inventory but you have a great idea for an online beauty store, you might want to consider dropshipping.

The only caveat with the dropshipping approach is you have less control over product quality, shipping times, and all around customer service. Perform thorough due diligence on any dropshipping outlets and make sure to order some of the products you are offering for yourself so you can ensure their quality.

Starting an online beauty supply store from scratch can be a bit tough when it comes to certain products because many popular creams, moisturizers, shampoos, and other products contain rare or expensive ingredients and very specific formulations. Many beauty products today go through rounds of testing and vetting, and have to get the stamp of approval from the government as well.

Obviously, not everyone has the capabilities to manufacture these kinds of products, at least at first. If you are just starting off and you are a small operation, dropshipping might be your best bet.

Just be very thorough in your vetting and don’t add products to your store just for the sake of adding them. You might think that by casting a wide net with a ton of products is the way to go from a potential revenue perspective, but many small online stores these days thrive by making a name for themselves around a handful of very specific products.

Specialize in one or two things and make these your calling cards. You can always expand your catalog later with very specific and well-vetted products.

How to Market Your Beauty Store

All of this work is for nothing if you can’t get eyes on your products. Many new merchants put a ton of time and effort into starting an eCommerce store only to forget about one crucial piece of the puzzle: marketing.

marketing your beauty store
In the beauty industry, marketing is a must. How you market your products will determine how people perceive your brand. Consider working with influencers or a photography studio in order to create high-quality images for your website and social channels.

Just because you build a beauty store online doesn’t mean people will magically show up. Even if you have very unique products or managed to unearth a few non-competitive keywords to sprinkle into your content.

It’s crucial to differentiate yourself. Effective marketing plays a pivotal role in this. Here’s some initial pointers:

Understand Your Target Audience:

  • Demographics & Psychographics: Understand who your ideal customer is – age, gender, income, preferences, buying habits, etc.
  • Customer Personas: Create detailed customer personas to guide your marketing efforts. This helps in crafting personalized marketing messages.

Leverage Social Media:

  • Platform Selection: Determine which platforms your target audience frequents. Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok are currently popular for beauty brands.
  • Engaging Content: Create tutorials, product demos, reviews, and user-generated content.
  • Influencer Collaborations: Partner with influencers who align with your brand to reach a wider audience.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

  • Keyword Research: Identify keywords relevant to your products and optimize your website content. Beauty store SEO will be the foundation of your long-term marketing, as this is what will help you get discovered naturally in Google without paying for ads.
  • Quality Backlinks: Build relationships with bloggers and influencers in the beauty niche to gain authoritative backlinks.
  • Local SEO: If you have a physical store or cater to a specific locality, optimize for local searches.

Email Marketing:

  • Newsletter Signups: Encourage visitors to subscribe to your newsletters by offering discounts or exclusive content.
  • Segmentation: Segment your subscribers based on their preferences and purchase behavior.
  • Personalization: Send tailored emails, including product recommendations and exclusive offers.

Content Marketing:

  • Beauty Blog: Share tips, tutorials, and news in the beauty industry. This establishes authority and drives organic traffic.
  • Guest Posting: Write articles for renowned beauty blogs or magazines to gain visibility and backlinks.

Online Advertising:

  • Pay-per-click (PPC): Use Google Ads to display your store in search results.
  • Social Media Ads: Utilize targeted ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to reach potential customers.
  • Retargeting: Remind visitors of products they viewed but didn’t purchase.

Loyalty Programs & Promotions:

  • Rewards: Offer points for every purchase, which can be redeemed in future transactions.
  • Referral Programs: Encourage satisfied customers to refer friends in exchange for discounts.

Customer Reviews & Testimonials:

  • Encourage Feedback: Ask customers for reviews after their purchase.
  • Showcase Reviews: Display positive reviews prominently on your site. Address negative feedback constructively.

You don’t need to go crazy and launch your marketing on all of these channels at once, but it’s important to understand what your options are.

Generally speaking, while you still want to focus on SEO as a long-term backbone marketing play, beauty supply stores thrive on social media. You will want to start an Instagram and TikTok account and post relatable content as often as you can. This will help build you an audience that will later visit your store to purchase something. TikTok advertising is another option if you want to drive immediate eyes to one of your best products.

If you are a first time eCommerce merchant and feel a little overwhelmed, just take important tasks one at a time, starting with the checklist above. If you are serious about launching a beauty brand with staying power, and want to know how to start an online beauty supply store that converts, consider talking eCommerce strategy with us.

As seasoned experts when it comes to promoting beauty products online, we can help you put a thoughtful revenue-driving strategy together, or help you build your eCommerce store from scratch if need be. Starting an online beauty store is no small feat, but with these tips you can set off on the right direction.



Matt Lovett

Matthew Lovett is the Director of Content and Social Media at 1Digital. Specializing in thoughtful marketing solutions and content that is goal-oriented and value-driven, he is passionate about helping businesses scale through organic growth. He is endlessly interested in the latest trends in social media, AI, crypto, and gaming.

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