With the digital consumer market booming, beauty is hot on fashion’s heels as a key e-commerce growth area. New skin care and makeup brands are overturning old ways of doing business, challenging the notion that consumers prefer to buy cosmetics in person and offering, instead, an evolved shopping experience – one that encompasses everything from smarter products developed to solve modern needs to socially driven marketing with a focus on peer recommendations to specialty packaging designed to deepen brand loyalty.
Of course, selling beauty products online requires special attention on the logistics front – especially when it comes to fulfilling orders comprised of many small items, or SKUs that must be assembled into a curated set or kit. And in today’s culture of instant gratification, those deliveries need to be on their way out of the warehouse and into the customer’s eager hands ASAP. While speed is key, accuracy is essential, too, along with extra care when it comes to value-added items, from samples to gifts with purchase to product inserts and more – all of which are central to many a beauty business. Furthermore, many of today’s beauty businesses (as well as plenty of fashion and accessories companies) offer customers the ability to opt into subscription services, and those recurring fulfillments also need to be prepared and delivered with that same quality, on time and always meeting or exceeding the customer’s expectations.
It bears repeating that when it comes to beauty, excellent order presentation and customer service is mission critical. It’s become de rigueur for beauty bloggers to film themselves “unboxing” packages of skin care and makeup products, in addition to applying them, and socially savvy customers often follow suit by snapping pics of their deliveries to share with friends and fellow beauty enthusiasts in their online communities. Glossier.com – the wildly successful digitally native beauty brand founded by Into the Gloss blogger Emily Weiss – has built its brand on community and interaction, enthusiastically inviting customers to share their experiences with the products as well as feedback and requests through their #glossierinthewild social media campaign. (The photo above is one prime example.) In response, customers regularly share images of newly arrived products, which come packaged with fun stickers and other extras – invaluable word of mouth marketing for the brand.
Unlike traditional beauty brands, this new generation of forward-thinking businesses is also building in smart initiatives that capitalize on the consumer’s desire to shop savvier and more responsibly. Stowaway Cosmetics, for example, is founded on the concept of “right-sized” products, which are smaller than traditional alternatives and easier to carry on the go – a response to the fact that many women can’t finish their regular sized skin care and makeup before the expiration date. Not only do Stowaway’s products help eliminate unnecessary waste (and save money) when it comes to the contents, but they are also addressing the problem of what to do with each container when it’s been used up. Their recycling program invites customers to return empties with a pre-paid shipping label, in exchange for a credit on the next purchase – making doing the right thing appealing and totally effortless.
It’s clear that the e-commerce revolution in this category has many benefits, among them greater ease, efficiency and exceptional customer experiences powered by social media and digital marketing. When innovative products are combined with a smart marketing strategy and flawless, forward-thinking fulfillment, it’s truly a beautiful thing.