While COVID-19 has been hugely damaging to many industries, Beauty eCommerce brands have seen a dramatic surge in business. Likened to “running Black Friday every day for two months”, Beauty marketers have been working flat out to meet demand and to pivot their strategies to accommodate new visitors with changing needs. 

Insider and Contentsquare recently held an executive roundtable event “Digital Director Labs: Getting Ahead in Beauty Retail. Predictions and advice for a changing ecommerce landscape.”

Presenting their experiences were Sara Cohen, Trading Director, and Amelia Di Palma, Product Manager for SPACE NK Daniel Grunwerg, Director of Digital Commerce & Marketing for Estee Lauder.

SPACE NK & Estée Lauder – Digital Dominance

Perfecting First Impressions for New Visitors and the Increased Demand for Customer Support

With brick and mortar stores shut, many shoppers who have never previously bought beauty products online have had to do so to fulfill their needs. 

This provides a huge opportunity for ecommerce marketers to create captivating, personalised experiences that keep shoppers coming back time and time again. For many, this would be the first opportunity Beauty brands have had to capture invaluable behavioural data and buyer contact information, creating opportunities for long-lasting dialogues with their customers, and boosting lifetime value. 

But for some shoppers, the ecommerce experience has been an entirely new one, and customer service teams have needed to give a helping hand as buyers navigate the site and the purchasing process. The easier you can make your buying experience online, the higher the likelihood that your customers will complete their purchase.

Bobbi Brown: Combining Digital Intelligence with Captivating Visual Content 

To boost product discovery and conversion rates for first-time visitors, Bobbi Brown uses Instagram-like stories via InStory from Insider on their category pages. The familiar user interface provides full-screen visuals to help visitors navigate to top sellers and top viewed products on the website

Bobbi Brown also targets returning customers who have made a purchase in the last 90 days with a custom banner upon arrival, with a direct link to replenish the product they last purchased.

Rocketing Appetites for Content

SPACENK has experienced a huge increase in content consumption, with blog views up by 96%. And good content really does have the power to convert. Those that engaged with online content went on to have a 24% higher conversion rate. 

In a time when people are starved of face to face interaction, meaningful connections online can make all the difference. Bobbi Brown elevated one of their chief make-up artist, combining her personal content with tutorials, live Q&As, and other social media content. The engagement has been overwhelmingly positive and her content has been more effective in converting than traditional influencers. 

Online consultations, already available from some brands but now widely adopted across the sector, have also helped brands to provide as much of the instore interaction online. 

Multichannel Marketing Hubs Will Convert Forced Acquisition Users into Long Term Loyal Customers 

Brands with multi-channel strategies in place were the real winners during lockdown. The extended lockdown caught a lot of companies out that didn’t have sufficient digital programs in place. As we know the COVID-19 events created an unprecedented effect on our market and made many traditional bricks and mortar stores go online in what we are calling “Forced Acquisition”.  

The challenge now is retaining these newly-acquired customers through loyalty and profitability. The key here is through customer understanding and segmentation of the different types of customers and delivering contextually relevant experiences to each customer.

Connecting their in-store loyalty scheme for online users was a success for SPACENK. Users that clicked on the banner to link their in-store loyalty card with an online account had a conversion rate of 18%.

Net New Digital Behaviours 

Lockdown has altered browsing behavior significantly. Make-up page views are down 25% for SPACENK, compared with pre-March 16th figures. Instead, buyers are focusing on “self-care” categories, such as “bath & body” and “skincare” which can be enjoyed from home, with page visits increasing by 53% and 30% respectively. The most searched term was Vitamin C, (up by 60% during the COVID-19 period), reflecting buyers intent to find “healthy” products during a global health scare.

Consumer habits will continue to evolve, and these adaptations will likely stick around long after the pandemic is over. Research shows that it takes an average of 20 to 30 days to form a new habit and 66 days to make it a more permanent change and for many parts of the world, life in l has lasted 60 days (or more).

A Glimpse Into the Future: The Reality of Reopening Stores

Retail stores in Switzerland opened on Monday 11th May, to mixed levels of popularity. Online Beauty figures did come down in the week following the stores opening but online traffic is still far higher than pre-lockdown. It is predicted that it will take a while for consumers to regain confidence visiting stores and so far, buyers have been in and out of stores very quickly focusing on replenishment. Also, testers won’t be available for the foreseeable future so ecommerce will still have an important part to play providing digital solutions that compensate for the lack of a fully tactile experience of in-store shopping.

Arguably one of the greatest catalysts for change of modern times, the pandemic has accelerated the long-awaited digital disruption and forced businesses to adapt. To help your business advance and meet the needs of today, we have assembled 27 actions to help you brace the major shifts in retail. Read the Reshaping Retail eBook now.