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Going beyond the traditional beauty e-tailing approach

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Integrating several global brands around the world into a single convenient platform, the app offers the best of luxury beauty, specializing in skincare, makeup, fragrance and hair. The app features a wide selection of curated and branded products from Colorbar, Fenty beauty, Ilana, Klairs, Nars Cosmetics, SUVA and much more.

Karishma Khokhar, Founder & CEO, Kult App speaks with IANSlife. Read Excerpts:

What was the initial idea before starting this platform, what made you venture into tech-first beauty and lifestyle m-commerce app?

Karishma: We have always been passionate about consumer experience. Kult App was born with the realisation that there was a tremendous opportunity to create a seamless experience that merged all touch points of a purchase cycle in an organic fashion. E-commerce needs to be beyond the two-dimensional experience of a transactional website. There is hardly any experience attached to the current online shopping experience – you browse, order, receive the boring brown box and don’t even remember what you ordered. Kult App is all about changing that and re-creating excitement in the process.

Kult App, a new-age beauty discovery platform.

What makes your platform stand out? How is it different from other beauty e-commerce websites or apps?

Karishma: Kult App is a tech-first beauty and lifestyle platform. Our focus has always been consumer centricity and thereby hyper-personalisation.

With consultations from top dermatologists in India and the US, Kult App utilizes a skin typing indicator. Using the Leslie bowman indicator, Kult App doesn’t show you an endless carousel of products in our stores – rather it considers 4 different parameters to assess the skin; Oil levels, Sensitivity, Pigmentation and age of skin. Based on this, it becomes your personal counselor with our algorithm that narrows down choices and allows users to make a decision for their specific skin needs.

After the users take a one-time quiz, each product displayed in the search shows a personalised match score. This match score conveys how well it suits the user’s skin needs. Additionally, the algorithm generates a personalized description for each product: why it works for you particularly and what all it will help target. No one anywhere globally has ever done that. From discovery to delivery, our one motto is – Once you’re at Kult App, all you need is right here.

Who is your target audience?

Karishma: Our key target audience are makeup and beauty enthusiasts who are constantly on a lookout to discover new and better beauty products. What we’ve generally seen is that our ‘super user’ might be between the age group of 16 to mid-30s.

How many brands do you currently have on board and what’s your target for this year?

Karishma: We have close to 300 international and home grown brands on board. We are looking at a target of about 700 brands by the close of next fiscal.

How has the D2C platform worked out for you?

Karishma: Aligned with our motto of customer centricity, our D2C platform strategy is the essence of the App. It allows us to cut through the traditional beauty e-tailing approach, and make beauty accessible through simple, easy and playful steps. As we are directly interacting with the shopper, we are able to create relationships with them, understand their needs and desires more accurately, and continuously evolve and adapt ourselves to make their wishes a reality. After all, Kult App is more than just a beauty company; it is an intuitive beauty and lifestyle experience, from discovery to delivery.

Tell us about your dark stores.

Karishma: In Mumbai, it is 7 and additionally, there’s the mother warehouse, we are planning to open more in Delhi as we go live with the hyperlocal. Our plan is to expand our dark stores to major metro cities and offer our hyperlocal services.

Do you believe a hyper-delivery model is needed for a non-essential commodity such as cosmetics? And why?

Karishma: The question Kult wants to ask is – Why not? Living in the era of faster and efficient deliveries, where customers are spoilt for choices, they have the liberty to choose the items, time and location to receive the order. When non-essential groceries can reach you promptly then why not skincare and makeup? GenZ is looking for fast-paced experiences and gratification. While cosmetics are non-essential, consumers can and should have access to their hyper delivery along with essential items.

Kult aims to achieve exactly that – to scale deliveries across India to make this possible for every shopper. This kind of hyper delivery is also in line with our customer-centric experience. We do not only want to create excitement in our customers while they browse through our app but also retain it till the very end. Usually, by the time you get the product that you were dying to experience, the excitement is not the same. We deliver products in under 2 hours (within Mumbai) to continue delivering the joy and the rush that comes with making an exciting purchase.

What do you think will be the future of the beauty industry?

Karishma: The paradigmatic shift in the beauty segment from ‘one-size-fits-all’ to hyper-personalisation is changing the face of the industry across the world. Consumers today are not looking for universal products but want uniquely personal solutions. New-age brands and young thought leaders are coming together to educate consumers on the diversity of skin and skin needs.

Innovation and creativity have made in-roads at every step of the purchase. Buying beauty products has to be a sensorial experience – shoppers react to elements of packaging, colour themes, textures, scents and the overall feel of the product.

How innovatively a retail store or beauty app interacts with the customers can make a world of a difference. Consumer-centric experiences are vital when shopping for highly personal products such as beauty. This is even more critical in online beauty sites as the consumer can easily leave a site when a friction is encountered. With such developments, technology has come up as the biggest enabler.

What are the key opportunities and challenges that you see in 2023? What are your expansion plans?

Karishma:

* We plan to launch our under 2 hr delivery module in other key cities including Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Bangalore launching our Android app very soon.

* Expand category mix along with their reimagined experience on app. We will also be launching more ways to shop in our app to encourage more browsing options for our users. We’ve boarded over 200 brands.

* On average we are signing 5 brands per week. Expect to hit 500 brands over the next couple of months including many exclusive international brands we will be launching in India.

* More video related content.

What are your future plans for the company?

Karishma: Apart from expanding our geographical presence of course (physically & digitally), we want to personalize and elevate the user experience of discovering and shopping beauty products 100x! Contrary to popular belief ‘beauty can be 100% digital’ at the intersection of (user experience x content x tech). And that’s what we intend to do. We are soon launching on Android. We’ve only scratched the surface.

(IANSlife can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS<br>ianslife/tb

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