Kess is exactly what a direct-to-consumer brand is in 2021: young, modern, functional and problem-solving. Founded in 2019, the Berlin-based beauty brand was spun out of event ticketing platform Eventim and specializes in beauty products that are simple and easy to use, last all day, and fit in any handbag.
However, in order to offer customers the best possible user experience, the store needed a beauty makeover, which the Latori team provided. In this interview, Kai-Oliver Henke, Director Operations at Kess, talks about what's important to the brand, how Kess as a makeup brand and Eventim as an event platform fit together, and how Latori gave it a new, user-friendly coat of paint with in-house programming.
- What can your products do particularly well?
- Where exactly does Kess Berlin have the products produced?
- How exactly should your online store reflect the image?
- Kess Berlin belongs to Eventim. How do concerts and make-up go together?
- When did you approach Latori and with what initial problem?
- They had special requirements. What exactly did Latori have to integrate and program?
- What advantages do customers now have in the new online store?
- You place great emphasis on PR work and social media. Which marketing measures are most important for Kess?
- Why would you choose to work with an agency like Latori again?
- What plans does Kess have next?
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What can your products do particularly well?
Kai-Oliver Henke: Kess steht für Beauty Essentials. Wir bieten unseren Kundinnen Produkte an, die einfach zu nutzen sind, die perfekt geeignet sind, um unterwegs zum Einsatz zu kommen, die einen Look erzeugen, wenn sie vom Büro zum Dinner gehen oder für Partys oder Konzerte verabredet sind. Das Ziel ist, dass sich unsere Kundinnen mit einem Produkt, das sie einfach in der Handtasche mitnehmen können, einen frischen Look schminken können. Wir setzen bei unseren hochwertigen Produkten dabei auf gute Inhaltsstoffe. Wir sind komplett vegan und arbeiten immer an einem smarten Packaging, das einen gewissen Mehrwert für die Kundinnen bietet.
Where exactly does Kess Berlin have the products produced?
Kai-Oliver Henke: Until now, we were completely made in Germany. With our mascara, we now have the first Italian product in the store. We have found a very good producer there who gets the texture right, as we imagine it, and finally fills the product into the packaging. Since then, we have not been averse to having other products manufactured in Italy. But one thing is clear to us: we will always remain made in Europe.
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How exactly should your online store reflect the image?
Kai-Oliver Henke: It's important to us that the store looks very clean and tidy and that it's easy for customers to find their way around. We don't have many products yet. At the moment we have six product categories and one to two products per category with three to nine color variations. For example, our lipstick comes in nine colors and our Duostick in six. We want to make it very easy for customers to find their perfect products, to put them together easily, and always provide guidance as well.
"The store is designed to be very quick to find your way around and also to get to your destination very quickly."
Kess Berlin belongs to Eventim. How do concerts and make-up go together?
Kai-Oliver Henke: Kess is a wholly owned subsidiary of Eventim and a start-up financed by Eventim. Eventim has an enormous number of young female customers, many of whom - outside of Corona times - are very active at concerts and on the road. The idea was to offer Eventim customers more than just tickets. We saw a need for beauty products aimed at younger female customers who travel a lot and want to use uncomplicated cosmetics and don't want to carry too much in their handbags. These customers don't want to carry their entire makeup kit in their bag, but need one or two products to prepare their look for the whole day.
In corona-free times, for example, we have a Kess stand at festivals to present our products, demonstrate them directly to festival visitors and create a look with make-up artists. We want to revive that as soon as it is possible again, to highlight the use case cosmetics and events more. However, we are not dependent on this, we function as a stand-alone brand far away from Eventim and already have our own customer base.
When did you approach Latori and with what initial problem?
Kai-Oliver Henke: Kaspar initially met Jan and Natascha at the K5 conference. We then approached the Latori team for the first time when we needed adjustments for the color swatches on our products. For our first Black Friday campaign, we also needed a countdown on our landing page, which was integrated by Latori. Through smaller jobs, the collaboration evolved until we finally wanted to initiate a major relaunch last year. The Latori team completely redesigned the store once with a new theme and a set configurator. The store has been running on Shopify from the beginning.
We deliberately decided to take a platform where we can work very independently and quickly. We wanted to take advantage of the speed and independence that we have as a small Kess team in Shopify. That's why we chose Shopify. It was the most modern for us and also manageable for the size.
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They had special requirements. What exactly did Latori have to integrate and program?
Kai-Oliver Henke: For us, the configurator was particularly important. It didn't exist like that in Shopify. We wanted to offer a mini lipstick set, so that customers could put together their own lipsticks in a set of three. The team built a super configurator for this, which is easy to use, works super fast and uncomplicated and is very visual.
Our customers should be guided step by step through the configurator. All color variants of a product should be directly visible. For example, our lipstick set. If you click on the product, the colors are initially not assigned. With the prompt "Choose your first color," the customer can click through and see the color description and a color image for each color. Until the first lipstick in the set is chosen, it is not possible to choose the color of the next one. In this way, the customer is guided step by step through the selection process. Only when all colors have been selected one after the other can the set be placed in the shopping cart, where the color names and images of the respective lipstick are displayed once again.
This was important for us, that it is immediately understandable for everyone. Initially, we created the configurator just for the lipsticks and eventually expanded it to our other products. We can now freely combine and offer mix-and-match sets.
What advantages do customers now have in the new online store?
Kai-Oliver Henke: We have become even more visual compared to before. We work with the Prestige theme, which gives us very large, full-screen images. In addition, we can offer potential buyers a few features that the theme comes with, for example Shop the Look and a tidy category overview. It's just become even more beautiful than before.
We are currently in the process of incorporating a lot more video content and then also giving application tips and explaining how to use the products properly.
"We simply want to offer Kess users even more."
You place great emphasis on PR work and social media. Which marketing measures are most important for Kess?
Kai-Oliver Henke: At the moment, we are clearly gaining the most reach via Instagram. It's our biggest marketing channel, where we also enter into partnerships with influencers and market our products. But we also run ads on Google and Facebook and are also well positioned in organic Google search.
We get very good feedback from the press and have already had great publications as a result, which we are very happy about. We consistently get positive feedback because we put a lot of work into our products. We put a lot of thought into the packaging, the texture, the ingredients, the smell. Every product is thought up by our product developers and that ultimately goes down well.
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Why would you choose to work with an agency like Latori again?
Kai-Oliver Henke: We don't have anyone in-house who knows Shopify as well technically as Latori can as an agency. We've come to know Latori as Shopify experts, and that has proven to be true. The collaboration works very well, both for projects that require a longer implementation period and for quickfixes, i.e. problems that require a quickly programmed solution.
"We appreciate the good communication, the very uncomplicated handling and the fair interaction."
What plans does Kess have next?
Kai-Oliver Henke: We want to expand the product range this year and already have some really exciting new things in the pipeline. We will launch these in the spring and summer. In addition, we will slowly move into other European countries this year. This means that we will internationalize the currently purely German-language store. We want to tackle the first additional country in Europe for Kess with its own Shopify store. Through the Kess Berlin store, we have already gained many learnings that we can now use and implement for other countries.
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