Amazon UK has expanded its product categories with the launch of an online health and beauty shop in an effort to take a share of the lucrative cosmetics market.

The site has been testing a health and beauty shop this month, offering more than 20,000 products. The e-tailer, which is stocking high-profile brands such as Nivea, Clinique, Olay and Braun, will go live with a full UK launch later this year.

The move will put Amazon UK in direct competition with health and beauty giants such as Boots and Superdrug, which both of which have been investing in developing their online offers.

According to Verdict Research, consumers spent£15.6 billion on health and beauty last year – a 4.6 per cent increase on the previous year – and online sales accounted for 2.2 per cent of that figure.

The new section of Amazon’s UK site is split into three areas: beauty, health, and wellbeing and fitness. The retailer will aim to sell everything from face creams to health supplements and pregnancy tests. It has also created a sports nutrition offer, which it will link with its existing sports and leisure section.

Amazon UK senior buyer for health and beauty Lindsay King said the dedicated store will “provide our customers with the convenience and prices that they expect from”.

She added: “We have worked hard with our suppliers to assemble a range of more than 23,000 products and we will continue to add to this, as we look to provide the biggest possible selection.”

Verdict retail analyst Carol Ratcliffe said that the arrival of another major entrant to the health and beauty market “will stir up more price competition online”. She added: “Having no store will allow Amazon to be more responsive on price.

“For online offers in this sector, you need to focus on gifts and repeat purchases, so having strong brands is a great opportunity for growth for Amazon.”

In 2003, Amazon launched a similar health and beauty shop on its US site, which now sells millions of products.