December 27, 2017

Here’s How QVC and Ulta Can Catch Up to Other Beauty Retailers

I receive a small commission if you shop through my link.

It’s become more clear than every before that Macy’s, Sephora, Nordstrom, and many other retailers are in direct competition with each other. This Holiday season the sales on makeup and beauty were plentiful and maybe even a little bit overwhelming as well. But none the less if it was a sale you were seeking, it was a sale you got with savings up to 60% off major brands like MAC, Urban Decay, Too Faced, and more…!

A few short weeks ago Sephora introduced a new promotion called Weekly Wows which brought together several products each week and marked them down 50% off retail prices. The very interesting thing about this promotion would be the fact you had a choice where to buy the items on sale because every single retailer across the board had the same exact item on sale. If Sephora put the Urban Decay Naked Palette on sale for 50% off you could find it for the exact same price at Ulta, Macy’s, Sephora, and Nordstrom. This made the Sephora’s Weekly Wows a very uneventful sale point.

But I digress, this post isn’t about sales so much but about the fact that Macy’s, Sephora, and Nordstrom have something that QVC and Ulta do not and how they need to do one single simple thing to catch up to these other beauty retailers.

Dr Denese is one of my favorite brands and I tend to shop it at QVC because they always have great sets and deals compared to purchasing from the doctor’s website. Yesterday, I decided to replenish a few items I needed especially since the cold weather is setting in and I can’t be without my beloved Hydroshield Face and Eye! One thing led to another as they tend to do when shopping online and I ended up popping five items into my cart and checking out. I realized later that I paid $3 per item to be shipped which a few years ago was great news as QVC changed their shipping prices and created a flat-fee shipping price on all beauty. Believe me in 2015 when $3 flat-free shipping was introduced many beauty fans were overjoyed because it was a step up from paying $4.99-$7.99 for shipping on items on QVC. But fast forward a few years later and it isn’t a deal so much anymore when all retailers have free shipping.

Both Macy’s and Nordstrom offer free shipping on any beauty purchase without the need to pay anything extra. Sephora Rouge Members also get free shipping however, everyone else needs to pay $10 a year for their Flash Shipping Service that provides free two day shipping on any item.

Both Ulta and QVC are still living in the dark ages in regards to shipping as they still haven’t reached a point that they offer completely free shipping. In four days, Ulta is set to reveal their new Diamond Rewards tier and many beauty fans have hopes it will mean free shipping. But still, even if they do gift us free shipping you’ll have to reach the Diamond level in order to get it likely.

I think both Macy’s and Nordstrom are far ahead of Sephora, Ulta, and QVC in terms of their shipping options. If it was up to me all retailers would offer free shipping across the board but a lot of retailers haven’t quite caught on.

But here’s to 2018! Hopefully it’ll be a free shipping free for all!

I receive a small commission if you shop through my link.

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • Arcy

    Although many like the rewards program at Ulta, I don’t think saving a few dollars when you spend $100 equals out to free shipping. I think saving on shipping offsets the few dollars you could get back. I don’t plan to spend $1k on makeup per year. I’m glad those that do will get rewarded though.

  • Betty

    Totally agree. QVC seems to think they don’t need to promote their cosmetics yet they still have the same things over and over and still charge shipping

  • Gina

    I completely agree with you! I always purchase from the retailer who provides free shipping. If farting in shipping, QVC might not be a good price anymore. If I purchase more thing to reach the free shipping at ulta, I might end up with buying something I don’t need/want/like, either I return it or give to someone else, it is a waste to me and/or the retailer.

  • Brenda

    As a customer I do love the free S&H & it does influence my shopping.
    I do feel guilty pressuring companies to give me free shipping. It’s a huge cost to these companies.
    I really don’t know how companies can keep up with the customer service that people demand. Immediate shipping. Free returns. Sale/low prices.
    QVC is a different animal though. They don’t really do competitive pricing. Easy pay is not a sale. Regular price $49.50. Clearance price $39.50. Yawn. Plus S&H. Plus paying for returns.
    I do shop at QVC, but not if I can get something elsewhere.

    • Isabella Muse

      too true! I actually thought about mentioning that exact thing as I typed this post. The shipping must really take a chunk of their earnings! QVC has some really good deals sometimes especially on beauty sets and makeup. Sometimes their beauty sets work out to like ten dollars per a piece including shipping so, you def get a good deal sometimes. Other times you have to be careful as they are selling you an older model camera at a rather high price on easy pay and people are gun-ho to get it because of easy pay when in reality they are paying more for an older model piece of tech!

  • Mary

    YES!!!! I also feel this way, which is why I’ve often ordered from the above mentioned stores & will probably do so even more, once my Flash is not renewed in Jan. I feel like I did not use it enough, with being able to drop into Sephora, Sephora at Penney’s & Ulta easily (I’m close to all of them). I am shocked that QVC still charges anything for shipping their cosmetics, due the sheer volume they must do. I have ordered quite a bit of cosmetics from them through the yrs, but now only on rare occasion, when they offer a special discounted price. I stopped ordering simply because I did not have to pay shipping elsewhere. Yes, I know, a small amount – $3.00 – but, it adds up, especially when you are buying multiple items. Thank you for this post, maybe if enough blogs & articles are written, it will make a difference in the future.

    • Isabella Muse

      Hey Mary! Flash is ok for me but I always get disappointed it doesn’t exact arrive within 2 days. I can just go to Sephora and pick it up faster like you said! I am too! QVC does quite a lot of sales so the fact they still charge for shipping puts them in the realm of the dinosaurs. I shop them often but I HATE they charge shipping! YES! I just paid $15 to get five items and I thought gee that’s a lot! I sure hope so 🙂 thanks for commenting today!

  • Hollie

    Also- like WHY does Ulta not do free samples of foundations at least? Ridiculous. I don’t buy any foundation/base products at Ulta for that very reason.

  • Caroline

    Totally agree re: free shipping. My fondest wish is that Ulta’s new Diamond tier will offer it, and also that it will be retroactive so that those of us who spent 3/4 of our paychecks at Ulta in 2017 will be able to immediately reap the rewards!! 😉

  • Carol G

    My fingers are crossed that Ulta will offer free shipping with this new rewards program because they still have the best rewards going, even without free shipping. So, if they offer free shipping for their next rewards threshold I will be beyond excited as I don’t shop at Macy’s and rarely at Nordstrom. The only reason I shop at Sephora is the free shipping and that’s only if it’s a product that isn’t available at Ulta. I would rather accumulate points at Ulta vs Sephora since we all know Sephora’s point system is, well, pointless!

    • Isabella Muse

      Agreed! They do have a great rewards program and free shipping would tip it into awesome ;-D

  • Gali

    For me the free returns that Sephora Macy’s and Nordstrom offer is unbeatable. I just don’t understand why ulta doesn’t offer the same conditions. I do not live close to any of these stores anymore. I have peace of mind when I know that I can return any product without a problem. Ulta and qvc should at least offer some easier way to make online returns by mail friendlier. It definitely drives me to look for other alternatives when considering a purchase. Thanks Muse for allowing us to discuss our innermost struggles today!

  • Darinka DAlessio

    While I generally go for the free shipping option when making online purchases, I gladly pay a few $$ for shipping if I have to for orders from Ulta. Their order processing far exceeds Sephora’s abilities. Ulta’s rewards program is top notch. It irks me so much that I spend $100 at Sephora only to receive a chintzy sample size product that rarely suits my taste. … or is even in stock. Ulta has improved so much in the past few years. Tat being said, the beauty sales this holiday season were really nuts, weren’t they? It was hard to know when you might be getting the best value.

  • kjh

    I rarely find it diff to add on a couple of items at Ulta for free shipping, but OF COURSE it would be a great boon. Never went for Flash from S, and methinks three weeks from the local ‘laser ship hub’ is a bit much. Rouge or non. You can drive there in under an hour, and a package only takes four weeks from Germany. Wtf? I felt bad for the guys that rode around in their personal (broken down) vehicle with my package, replete with redirections in Spanish and Portuguese. I suspect laser ship is screwing these guys big time. And I would have been pissed, if S were unwilling to take my return on a defective product…. Ulta will make big gains in the Sephora War, if they do free shipping. All these Cos have to realize that most of us consumers comparison shop on ALL factors, from price, to exclusivity, to tax plus/free, to shipping. With online info, there are massive choices. Learning curve, folks.

  • Bethanne

    I agree with you! I’ve been shopping more at and Macy’s due to their free shipping policy. That, coupled with their Gift with Purchase deals make it the way to go for me. Incidentally, I’ve been shopping more at Ulta lately, compared to Sephora. The Platinum Perks make Ulta my “go to” retailer for most of my make-up purchases!

  • Maria

    I find myself adding on stuff I do not need like cotton balls and nail files to add to make total to $50 on Ulta website for free shipping. However, They definitely have better rewards than Sephora. Regarding Qvc, they used to ship many beauty items including today special sets via UPS only. Now everything including blankets are being shipped UPS sure post via the post office. Even Hsn is using Ups sure post where in the past it was Ups only.

  • Natalie

    For me, the big deal is free returns. If I am purchasing a high-end item, I want to know I can easily return it if it doesn’t work out. I steer clear of retailers that do not offer free returns.