As told to Inc. reporter Francesca Louise Fenzi.
I run a start-up beauty company with two retail outlets in the United Kingdom, both in the premium department store Harvey Nichols. My background is journalism--I’m a beauty writer--and my business partner’s background is in retail, so we were trying to glue those two worlds together through BeautyMART. Our product is like a fashion magazine and shop in one: We offer a curated selection of beauty products, then allow women to buy those products online or at one of our brick-and-mortar stores.
We launched our website a few months ago with limited funds. I think we all felt a bit deflated and frustrated while we were working on it because we couldn’t have it the way we wanted it to be; we wanted it to act as both a magazine and store--recommending other brands' products, but keeping customers on our site to buy them. Our budget meant a lot of restrictions. But when we talked to Ceros they showed us something that pretty much matched our original vision and was priced much more reasonably.
We still have our own website, but now we use Ceros as our publishing platform for a weekly newsletter, which functions as a kind of self-contained mini magazine that drives sales on our site. With our new newsletter, we've seen a noticeable increase in clickthroughs and sales. Ceros allows us to build layers of editorial content and with pop-out windows, without redirecting customers to external sites. I also like that because of the way Ceros is structured, we have flexibility: Eventually we'll be able to turn our mini magazine into a BeautyMART app.
It's not necessarily a layperson's tool, though our designer had no problem adapting to the technology. Here's what sealed the deal for me: We didn't have to try to explain to a third party what the ethos of our brand is, what the energy should be, what the tone is, or what it should look like. You get up and running and you create the end product using their system. I think that’s the intention--you shouldn’t need your hand held throughout the Web publishing process.