@Cosme Stores: Online Reviews Meet Offline Beauty Shopping

By Kelly Wetherille
November 5, 2013
Health & Beauty

In Japan, there is one website that far outweighs all others when it comes to beauty: @Cosme. The customer ranking and review site has been popular for years, but for those of us looking at it from an international perspective, it seems very strange that it doesn't actually sell the products it features. But the company behind the business eventually caught on to this as well, launching the sister site of @Cosme, Cosme.com, a beauty e-commerce destination. But perhaps the most interesting element of @Cosme's portfolio is its chain of physical stores, which expertly merge online with real life.

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The first @Cosme Store opened in Shinjuku in 2007, and there are now five stores across Tokyo, with branches in Ueno, Shibuya, Ikebukuro and Ginza. One visit to any of these locations is never enough, as the product selection changes frequently.

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“The stores are produced by the internet forum site @Cosme, so each store displays and sell products according to their respective ratings and reviews on the site,” a spokeswoman for the company said. “The concept is basically that it’s OK even if customers don’t make a purchase—we just want them to be able to have some fun while checking out and testing new products.”

Staff at the @Cosme Stores change the displays at least once a month, depending on the rankings of products in various categories, including cleansers, supplements and vitamin drinks, hair styling products, and makeup. Each store also includes at least one trial corner with a computer terminal, where customers can test select products and then immediately rate and comment on them via the @Cosme website. In addition to this, the stores have counseling stations, at which employees help customers to find the right products for their unique needs.

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“If people are just looking to buy something that they’ve already had before, then the internet is a great place to get it, which is why we also have an online shopping site, Cosme.com,” the spokeswoman said. “But with cosmetics you really don’t know what you’re getting unless you’re able to try the products before buying something for the first time, so physical stores will always be important in that regard.”

If you think about it, it’s a concept that is so intuitive it’s absolutely genius. And especially if you’re not familiar with many of the beauty products available in Japan, it’s a great place to try them out without feeling any pressure to buy.

The Deets

Locations: Details on the Shibuya, Ginza and Shinjuku stores are below. For information on the Ueno and Ikebukuro stores, please see the official website.

Address: 2F Marui City Shibuya, 1-21-3 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Open: Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun & hols 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

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Address: B1F Ginza Printemps, 3-2-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Open: Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

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Address: B2F Lumine Est Shinjuku, 3-38-1 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Open: Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat, Sun & hols 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

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