Joël Palix from Feelunique was one of the opening keynote speakers at this year’s Internet Retailing Expo 2016 and their strategy behind attracting and retaining their customers was an insightful one - plenty of key takeaways that many brands can learn from in growing their business.
Feelunique is an established fashion and beauty store that acts as a unified source of products ranging in brands, prices and purpose. It has taken over 10 years to become truly successful - refining their marketing and offering and ultimately embracing the multi-channel behaviour of shoppers today. In 2015, they took close to £80M in retail sales and shipped over 11,500 products each day.
They have a clear ambition of becoming a leading retailer of premium beauty products online and acting as a strong challenger of existing brick-and-mortar stores across continental Europe.
They also want to be innovators in the eCommerce space. In Joël Palix’s own words:
‘Being a leader is nice, but being a pioneer is more exciting’.
They also have a strong brand culture. They embrace the five strands of their DNA - unique, powerful, fun, accessible and digital - believing that beauty and fashion stems from all of those points.
So how have they become so successful?
Feelunique uses a variety of promotional channels in their marketing - using offline to drive awareness and then using online to convert this awareness into sales. However, they clearly stated that it is important that consistent messaging and brand is kept throughout the journey from offline to online and back again.
It was also interesting to hear that 90% of their business is done online, with only 10% being in-store. Despite this, they have still embraced the multi-channel attitude that retailers need to adopt today.
In the beauty industry, discovery is part of the experience - discovering new products and researching different brands. Because of this, search and navigation is a prominent element of their website and digital marketing efforts.
They help customers not only find the products they want, but also help them find the products they didn’t know they needed. They do this through how-to content, curated collections and through sampling.
The sampling strategy was an interesting one and split into three different strands of activity.
The first was to offer a sample with a full size order so that customers can sample the product before opening their product (thus making it easier to return the product). This could potentially mean a significant investment for them but as it makes the customer experience much better, they are likely to retain more customers and brand advocates.
The second sampling strategy was to offer free samples for new products along with higher value orders. Again, this aided the discovery process and mimicked many retailers’ ‘you may also like’ feature but offline - definitely an intriguing element.
The third and newest strategy was the launch of their ‘pick & mix’ feature. Customers can order five free samples of products a month - only having to pay for shipping and handling. This allows customers to find new products and give them a try before buying.
They mentioned that they have found that their customers don’t like the in-store experience of salespeople in salons and department stores as they tend to push products they may not even want or need. Instead, they want objective recommendations and to make the decision themselves - and this insight has influenced their whole search and discovery process.
Time and time again we have seen personalisation be a huge trend and the way forward for many retailers. Customers want relevant experiences.
One way that Feelunique has embraced this is through personalised USPs on the homepage of their site. These are personalised and tailored to the user - predominantly through location - so that they resonate with the user as much as possible (and thus prompting them to make a purchase).
They also have introduced Myfeelunique, which is an innovative customer area where they can list their favourite brands and be vocal about their preferences and taste - so that products can be recommended more easily.
Joël Palix was very clear that this was what Feelunique is moving towards.
“This is the future of Feelunique - not one site, but one site per person.”
One way to increase sales is to make sure that your customers come back time and time again. One aspect of this for Feelunique is to make sure that they establish trust and manage reputation.
This is done through prominent reviews and customer stories so that users can see what others thought about their experience. In the beauty industry in particular, people use products to express and identify - so having a platform for them to share experiences and opinions is very important. But this can be true for many other industries (especially in retail).
A second aspect of this is that the website needs to make it as easy as possible for customers to opt-in to repeat purchases. They offer a subscription-style model where users can tick a box during their purchase which gives them a monthly reminder to buy again (or a more appropriate time period).
Whilst Feelunique’s customers tend to be very local, they still need to have everything given to them in a very easy and simple manner.
‘Customers are loyal and lazy’
Feelunique was an insightful case study to hear from and we came away with four very clear takeaways of what can be powerful strategies to take on board:
If you want to discuss any of these in more detail, feel free to tweet us at @Statement!