Prototyping in the cosmetics industry

Growing a cosmetics ecommerce platform from nothing, one prototype at a time.

CouleurCaramel produce a line of boutique cosmetics that are organic, healthy and sustainable. Developed and produced in France, the home of cosmetics, the CouleurCaramel line is produced lovingly by professionals passionate about natural ingredients. When their American franchise decided to launch an online presence they came to us, and what started as a minimal marketing website, grew piece by piece into a powerful ecommerce platform.

Initially CouleurCaramelUSA were importing the product line and distributing it to retailers without having any online presence. But they saw the practical benefit of having a marketing website live on the web so a brief was produced and they put it out to tender.

But in a great working example of #PrototypeFirst thinking they realized shortly after the brochure website went live that with reps quickly using the site as a touchstone, the company could expand it to support inventory management. A critical business need that could only be improved with 24/7 on-the-road access.

The reps responded well to this and the website cemented it's utility. And shortly after the online inventory control was launched, as part of a secure dashboard, they asked us to consider how reps might be able to input orders through the site on behalf of retailers.

This ability launched soon after, and was almost immediately rolled out directly to retail clients. The reception was incredibly positive. Gone was the paperwork, replaced instead with quick and easy order management.

Problems arose as the business had to evolve it's understanding of what retailers wanted and how best they could be served now that a streamline offering was available.

Retailers had ideas, functions they felt could expand the platform and increase ordering. They asked for drop-shipping, ordering on credit and other features.

CouleurCaramelUSA examined the ideas, narrowing the list and prioritising.

New features were prototyped in place, demoed to retailers and changes were rolled out. Bit by bit the platform grew, improved and performed.

As the software matured it's success helped to fund more development and design. The site began to sell direct to consumers, taking all that had been learnt and applying it to the high-street consumer.

By prototyping and growing organically the ecommerce platform CouleurCaramelUSA had built was able to capitalise on existing business relationships and open up the operation to while new sources of revenue.

When we talk enthusiastically about prototyping software, we really mean it. The #PrototypeFirst approach can change how you make money, it has for us.

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