As the loosening of COVID restrictions sees customer behaviours shift once more, many brands and etailers are left asking, ‘what’s next in the world of beauty ecommerce?’ And, while nobody can say for sure what the new new normal will look like in the etail landscape, the right data and expert analysis can help us prepare for the changes ahead.
That’s why mmi’s CEO Christian Eckley hosted a recent webinar to discuss bouncing back from COVID, with a focus on how beauty brands can maximise new digital opportunities. Together with our Data Insights & Analytics Manager, Sophia Rendora, Atelier & Avenue’s Saverio Bianchi, and General Manager of StoreDAQ, Owen Hughes, he delved into the ways ecommerce is developing in 2021 – and beyond. Here are four key questions the panel tackled...
1. Which Part of the Online Customer Journey is Most Important?
The answer is simple. “All of them,” says Saverio Bianchi from Atelier & Avenue. Because media and etail are now so closely intertwined, if one part of the ecosystem fails, all of it falters, impacting your acquisition, retention, conversions and more.
After many of beauty’s digital disruptors scaled up their ecommerce investment in 2020, the bar has been raised in terms of consumer touchpoints and content marketing. However, mmi data highlights that many beauty brands are still missing the basics. Here’s where they’re falling short, and how they (and you) can level up the online customer journey.
Check Stock Levels
It goes without saying that sold out products have a direct impact on your sales revenue. And, yet, when analysing 4,000 SKUs across 21 retailers in seven countries, we found that 22% of SKUs are out of stock. This is an instant loss of a purchase; one that may send consumers to a competitor brand. For this reason, we recommend tracking stock levels with a tool, such as shelfVIEW.
Not only does this give you a real-time view of SKUs across all of your etailers, it also allows you to spot trends in stock levels. By using this data to pre-empt sold out products, you can plan etailer allocation more accurately. This makes for a smoother supply chain – one that benefits you, your etailers and your customers.
Improve Product Content
“The beauty industry across all categories has a number of different challenges online, because it’s very much a tactile and experiential sector,” Hughes explained. “So you need to make sure you are bringing as much of that experience into [consumers’] homes as possible.” That’s where enhanced product page content comes into play.
mmi’s Data Insights & Analytics Manager, Sophia Rendora, revealed there are large gaps in beauty brands’ product page content, which all impact conversion rates.
- 86% of SKUs have no video, despite videos reportedly boosting conversions by up to 80%.
- 37% of SKUs do not have the brand name in the product description, which is detrimental to brand identity and the customer experience.
- 56% of SKUs display only one product image. 60% of consumers say they need to see an average of 3-4 images when shopping online.
These are easy-to-fix issues that make better use of brands’ content portfolio. Tick each one off in order to bring brand stories to life in the absence of in-store testing.
(Watch the replay here -> ‘Bouncing Back From COVID: Maximising the Opportunity for Beauty Brands’.)
Out-Brand the Grey Market
Optimising the digital shelf isn’t just about improving the customer journey. Providing more complete content also helps to boost rankings on search engines like Google. As the beauty grey market expands, this becomes all the more pertinent, as it can help you out-rank grey market sellers and direct more traffic to authorised etailers. Ensure you create in-depth descriptions, offer plenty of visuals and use the correct product name in page titles to make the correct SKUs easy to find.
2. What Adjustments Should Retailers and Brands Make to Bounce Back Better?
Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen retailers and brands work closer together than ever before, collaborating on everything from blog articles to social media posts. However, they’ll need to take their digital partnerships further in order to adapt to a post-lockdown world, with commercial agreements being the first frontier in improving online shopping.
Traditionally, agreements have been weighted towards in-store KPIs and sales. However, a 4% increase in online traffic between March and May indicates that digital deserves greater prominence. It’s all about expanding priorities. “When meeting with retailers, something as [simple] as putting ecommerce as the number one topic on the agenda ensures it’s not addressed as an after-thought at the end of a six-hour discussion,” explained Bianchi.
“That can shift the approach to constructive progress. [You can find out if the retailer needs] bandwidth to get product content updated, and find out what the brand can do to help.” Cue a more synergistic approach to improving the online customer journey.
3. Will the Significance of Online Retailers Decline as D2C Grows?
Brands like Glossier and BeautyPie are eschewing the third-party etailer model, and offering direct-to-consumer (D2C) experiences with brand identity embedded into every touchpoint. This allows them to control everything, from the overall look and feel of each product page to the box the products are delivered in. Done right, it’s a powerful brand-building exercise.
But will these evocative user experiences have a negative impact on third-party etailers? The webinar panel agreed that, if etailers remain responsive, they can keep growing their audience. This means developing their media channels, such as Instagram, TikTok and their blog content, as well as working on securing exclusive launches – a practice that Cult Beauty has perfected. Meanwhile, D2C stores should lean heavily into their brand identity to keep enticing customers. Furthermore, offering quick delivery and speedy customer service will help them compete with the likes of Amazon.
4. What Are the Challenges and Opportunities Available with Social Commerce?
According to GlobalWebIndex, 71% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product if they’ve seen it on social media. The importance of such platforms for beauty brands cannot be overstated, but how might the rise in social commerce be changing the way we market new products?
Instagram’s shoppable grids are on the rise, while new research reveals that shopping on TikTok has increased by 553% over the past 12 months. The big draw with these platforms is a quick, concise customer journey, which takes users to check-out in seconds. However, content is key to getting those shoppable posts noticed in the first place.
“Social commerce is not a fad; it’s here to stay and grow…But it can’t just be about having products and a click to buy button. It can only be successful if brands and retailers invest in content and genuine engagement,” Bianchi told us. “You need to have stories. You need to capture minds before you capture hearts.” This means sharing more than just product photo after product photo with stylised backgrounds. Making use of Reels, IGTV and TikTok videos in an authentic and creative way will help brands expand their reach, engagement and, ultimately, their sales.
Up next: Want to see the full webinar? We’ve got you covered. Go ahead and watch ‘Bouncing Back From COVID: Maximising the Opportunity for Beauty Brands’.