It’s been a part of the publishing industry for decades, but now, Marie Claire is entering a new domain – the world of retail.

‘Fabled by Marie Claire’ is a new venture in partnership with Ocado.

Yet another example of a brand aligning the offline and online shopping experience, it has just opened a physical store alongside a new ecommerce site.

A reflection of the changing ways women are consuming beauty content as well as buying products – it is designed for the ‘fast-paced lives of the beauty-savvy’.

As well as exploring its website, I recently visited the flagship store on Tottenham Court Road to find out what it has to offer.

Bringing editorial expertise in-store

Sitting alongside the likes of Oasis and T2, Fabled occupies a shiny new space not far from Oxford Street. 

With its glass windows and eager staff, it immediately feels more high-end than your average department store (and a world away from Boots).

Upon entering, I was first drawn to the digital screens situated by each make-up counter.

Reflecting Marie Claire’s reputation as an influential voice on beauty, each counter promotes ‘The Edit’ – a selection of carefully curated items recommended by the magazine’s editors. 

The screens display more information on each product along with a short review.

By allowing shoppers to swipe and browse, there is a definite interactive element to shopping in-store. 

While cynical consumers could potentially feel they are being dictated to, Marie Claire is clearly banking on its existing audience to buy into its curated shopping experience. 

Combined with the on-hand expertise of its employees, there is certainly a focus on meeting the customer needs.

With its well-designed layout and wide range of brands, the store was impressive enough.

However, the only real let down was that despite the aforementioned example, there didn’t appear to be many interactive features in-store

I did spy a few extras like a mini GHD salon and a fragrance room, however both appeared to serve as visual elements as opposed to anything particularly unique or interesting in purpose.

Fast delivery and convenience online

Like the flagship store, Fabled.com offers a similarly pleasant shopping experience – one that’s geared around high-end products and high-quality editorial.

But then again, isn’t that what every beauty website offers?

In the world of beauty content marketing, a brilliant blog and engaging social media presence is no longer unique – it’s expected.  

Of course, with a lot of this type of content already found on the main Marie Claire website, it’s understandable that Fabled wants to be different. 

With editorial integrated throughout the site instead of in a dedicated category, it appears to be positioning itself as an authority on beauty ecommerce rather than the chatty, knowledgable mate of its regular magazine. 

With helpful tips and advice, there's a lot of informative content to enjoy.

However, I do feel that the Fabled brand could be a bit more fleshed out.

It's early days of course, as the 'preview' marker at the top of the site suggests. Also, the site only appears on page two of Google when you search for 'Fabled'.

But despite a decent enough user experience, there is nothing about the site’s design or content that’s particularly exciting or different.

One aspect where Fabled looks set to beat its competition is delivery.

By teaming up with Ocado, it boasts a next-day delivery service as well as chosen one-hour slots. Even better, it means that orders from Fabled.com can be attached onto a main Ocado shop. 

With this added convenience, it is sure to entice shoppers who might otherwise abandon an online beauty purchase. 

Who could resist the temptation of a few nice treats alongside the tinned tomatoes?

In conclusion...

Overall, Fabled by Marie Claire is an interesting concept.

You could argue that it offers the same (in-store and online) service as department stores like Debenhams or House of Fraser. 

However, when taking into consideration the excellent delivery options and its authorative content, there's certainly a lot more to appreciate.

I wish there were more digital aspects in-store and a better defined branding strategy, but it's still well-worth having a browse.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 17 August, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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