American Marketer


What luxury brands can learn from the beauty industry’s ecommerce boom

June 18, 2020

Ecommerce is key to the beauty category's future. Image credit: Drunk Elephant Ecommerce is key to the beauty category's future. Image credit: Drunk Elephant


By Andrea Silva

The beauty industry has been evolving and transforming at a rapid pace for the past few years, with direct-to-consumer new players disrupting the market and heritage brands going through an internal digital transformation process, all to meet consumers’ increasing needs.

In this competitive environment, beauty brands are forced to innovate and differentiate themselves to create great digital experiences for the consumer.

Skincare brands, in particular, have been steadily increasing, with Statistica estimating a 3.5 percent annual increase in the global skincare market through 2023, reaching a predicted $180 billion in global spend by 2024.

Even in the current context, beauty giants such as L’Oréal have communicated that, while the makeup category has been the most affected by the COVID-19 crisis, skincare brands such as Kiehl’s, Lancôme and SkinCeuticals have proven more resilient.

Skincare seems to be more relevant than ever for beauty brands, leaving important ecommerce learnings for luxury brands to pick up on.

While it is essential to understand how consumers search and what concerns they express, it is equally important to deliver an outstanding ecommerce experience to truly connect with them.

What are the best practices in terms of user experience (UX) when it comes to purchasing products on brands’ Web sites? What are the features that will take the experience to the next level?

These are some of the questions that the third set of insights from “The Online State Of Skincare Brands” report answers.

We analyzed a selection of Web site features from 12 skincare brands: the top six fastest-growing brands and six from the top 10 most searched brands. We focused on the offering of the U.S. market, the biggest for most of the skincare brands.

With the objective of defining best practices when it comes to experiencing a brand's ecommerce service, 24 criteria based on seven main pillars were used for the analysis:

  1. Product discovery
  2. Consumer feedback
  3. Consumer service
  4. Incentives
  5. Payment
  6. Omnichannel
  7. Checkout experience

From our extensive analysis, these are some of the highlights we consider key to both the consumers and brands.

Make it easy to find what consumers want
Consumers value frictionless experiences, and being able to find the product they are looking for quickly carries a lot of weight.

Multi-filtering options by price, skin type, category, skin condition and best sellers are expected by the consumers to make it easier for them to make better choices.

Most advanced brands offer a great mobile UX by including app-like navigation to their mobile site. Consumers want to make better choices, and helping them compare products easily allows them to reduce choice paralysis.

Besides proposing a complete filtering options system, SkinCeuticals also provides a comparison option. The user can select a few products and collate them onto a page to compare their prices, ingredients, benefits and core technology to perfect their choice.

Be transparent and clear
Ecommerce is about making sure consumers have all the information they need to buy a product. While in-store it is easy to receive advice from an expert, it is not always the case online.

Brands should offer valuable product information and be fully transparent when showcasing consumer reviews, even when they are not the most positive.

Some brands show when reviewers have received free items or give the option to filter reviews by most favorite or most critical.

In its review section, L’Occitane has added a field where reviewers can mention if they have received a free product to write the review.

Does the consumer get all the information needed to make a purchase of an item? A simple product description is not enough: it is not about giving maximum detail, but the correct detail.

Drunk Elephant is a good example. Its product page contains all the information consumers need to make a decision: photos of the product, ingredients and their benefits, practical advice on how to use it, the philosophy around the product, among other things.

The brand creates and strengthens trust in its product with its “science proof section” and user reviews.

Set an appealing customer retention strategy
Offering text based re-order services, clear and engaging customer loyalty programs or the option to pick up at a nearby store on the day of an online purchase are also some of the best practices that companies need to consider.

Creating auto-reordering, and offering a discount in case of auto-reordering, is an opportunity to increase customer retention. This will increase sales and help to partially forecast sales and incomes.

Offering a seamless ecommerce experience, making sure all product-related information and consumer reviews are transparent, and personalizing the online experience are all musts for brands striving to deliver the best-in-class experience.

The balance of these efforts underlines the importance of brands offering an omnichannel experience to their consumers throughout all stages of the user experience.

Please click here to download the PDF of the report, “The Online State of Skincare Brands: Search Interest and Ecommerce Best Practices”

Published with permission from Luxury Society, a division of DLG (Digital Luxury Group). Adapted for clarity and style.