If Net-A-Porter can have a digital magazine, why shouldn’t Allure have a digital shopping cart? The women’s beauty mag is trying to leverage its authority as a go-to resource for hair, skin and makeup advice with a just-launched e-commerce widget. Named The Beauty Product Finder, the feature is powered by Quidsi—the company behind beautybar.com, soap.com, diapers.com and the newly-launched wag.com—and is sponsored (a.k.a. paid for) by L’Oréal.
If it seems a no-brainer that a magazine that pushes beauty product monthly would make it easier for customers to find and purchase that product, it wasn’t for Allure EIC Linda Wells. She told WWD that the idea only came to her after designer “Donatella [Versace] told me she buys everything the magazine recommends every month.” In addition to providing a nice service to readers, Allure will get a cut of sales made from The Beauty Product Finder.
The widget’s search engine is impressive. Looking for a hairdryer? You can sort by “hair type” (coarse, color-treated, fine, normal, relaxed or straightened, thick, very coarse), “hair texture” (curly, straight, wavy), “hair concerns” (brassiness, dandruff, dryness, dullness, fading color, flatness, frizz, oiliness), price and more. You’re returned with a list of products that match your given criteria. Click on one and you’ll get the Allure review, plus more details, and the option to either save it to a shopping list, or to buy it now. Choose “buy it now,” and the product shows up in a shopping cart on the bottom of the page. Customers are then redirected to beautybar.com to complete checkout.
Given how powerful a tool The Beauty Product Finder is, it seems strange that Allure isn’t giving it more of a presence on the website. Though the widget is front-and-center on the homepage, and on the right side of all of the interior pages, it doesn’t get a landing page of its own. Unfortunately, it isn’t integrated throughout Allure’s editorial coverage. And it’s relatively small: To select the proper search criteria, you must toggle left and right because all options are crammed in such a narrow space. It looks like more like an iPhone app than an web-based e-commerce experience.
While readers might dog-ear pages of Allure to keep track of things to be on the lookout for at Sephora or Space.NK, web content gives fans the ability to read about a new eyelash curler or lipstick, then immediately purchase it. In that way, The Beauty Product Finder is a step forward for the magazine. A small step.