Guest post from SPS Commerce
E-commerce is a high-growth sales channel for retailers in most verticals, but the health and beauty segment has been traditionally lagged in its adoption compared to its counterparts in electronics, home and apparel. It’s only recently that we’re seeing them making significant strides online.
Part of the problem has been that consumers like to test and sample new products directly, something difficult to replicate in e-commerce. You can’t test out that new shade of lipstick or hand lotion online, and since this is definitely an experiential shopping experience, it’s a tougher sell when shoppers can’t see it, feel it or smell it.
That said; don’t discount the importance of the online experience. Online is critical even if the consumer is looking to buy a product in-store. Many shoppers access their mobile devices for product information or to locate nearest store with the product in stock. If a retailer doesn’t provide this level of detail, the consumer has many other options just a swipe away.
The one issue that health and beauty suppliers are facing is that many of them aren’t prepared to deliver the detailed item information needed for online selling or browsing. Retailers are teaming with vendors to secure the right digital assets to promote their products and educate the consumer.
A new era of sampling
Some of the ways we’re seeing e-commerce sales expand are through ideas such as Birch Box, which is a way for customers to try out and sample new products with the option to then buy full sizes of products online. Sampling remains the key entry point to engaging consumers.
When I worked at Target, I led the idea of the beauty box. We learned that since we couldn’t get samples into guests’ hands if they weren’t there, we could send them samples through our online platform as a way to entice them into our stores instead.
These strategies helped close the sales loop in non-department store prestige beauty formats, which rely on a self-service shopping model. Since the consumers didn’t have someone at the beauty counter telling them about all the products, content is a huge driver in getting people to try new products. We had to back the beauty box experience with some significant online content in a way that couldn’t even be provided at the store – reviews, extra images, and even linking them to similar products.
Subscriptions offer engagement opportunities
Another example of e-commerce is to build out the subscription model. This has been very helpful in the health category, for things like regimented daily use products, such as vitamins and supplements where you get a month’s supply and go back to the store when you run out. Rather than going back to the store, the subscription model sends you the products as you need them so you never run out. Consumers can track and modify their shipments online.
In the end, finding a way to get small samples into consumers’ hands, or sending them regular subscriptions of their favorite products, is a way health and beauty can grow their digital retail sales. If you’d like to learn how SPS Commerce can help your retail business grow, contact them today.DOWNLOAD FULL WHITEPAPER