by Joe Callon
Health and beauty is a category of commerce that wouldn’t necessarily translate perfectly to the web. Part of the personal care experience is being able to touch, smell and physically see what products you’re about to buy, as it can be hard to imagine putting something on your skin or eating something that you haven’t had previous experience of.
Thankfully, buying beauty products online is now much more lucrative, and selling is therefore much more successful. Whilst consumers are now willing to make their purchases solely online, it’s crucial that your store caters for your customers’ needs, and answers any questions/concerns they may have. Here are just a few of the essential components that should feature on your store, in order to achieve ‘healthy’ online success.
Fast, accurate search to cater for creatures of habit
Consulting firm A.T. Kearney ran studies in both 2012 and 2014 on how health and beauty fits into the eCommerce world. Included in both was the question of the most important attributes that come into play when browsing for health and beauty products online. Each time, consumers said that an ‘Online Advisor’ was the least important aspect of shopping online, with finding specific products coming first in 2012 and second in 2014 (more on that later).
What this should tell you is that there is no need to try and recreate the in-store experience through your website. Instead, focus on catering to the “creatures of habit” - the shoppers who already know what they’re looking for, and want to know what price you’re selling it at and what the benefits of spending their money with you is.
This means including a fast, accurate search tool within your store. It’s no good having search functionality that half-works, as this leads to disgruntled customers, and lost sales. Don’t bury the search bar in your footer, feature it prominently in the header of your page, allowing shoppers to instantly input - and find - what they’re looking for.
Low shipping costs and quick delivery
Another high scorer in the important attributes category of the A.T. Kearney studies was the luxury of free shipping. This is especially prevalent in customers who have a higher income or are buying more expensive, high-end products, as they expect the higher cost to be inclusive of any shipping and handling costs.
Consider how you yourself would react if you were spending a significant sum of money on a product, only to be told at checkout that shipping is an extra £6.95 and it’ll take three weeks before you have your order.
We understand that it’s not always feasible to strike off shipping costs completely, especially as a growing retailer, so perhaps consider discounting the shipping price as soon as a customer reaches an arbitrary order value (£50, £75, £100+) and see how that affects your average order value. You’ll also find more often than not that customers are willing to add another item or two to their cart in order to qualify for free shipping, which is a win-win.
To keep order turnaround time to a minimum, make sure your order processing workflow is seamless and you’ve chosen a reliable company to handle the physical delivery of your orders.
Security for your customers, and yourself
From 2012 to 2014, site security jumped from the fifth most important element of the health and beauty online shopping experience, to the top spot. Keeping your customers’ details secure is not only important for them, it’s important for you as a retailer and a brand. Making sure that you’re not about to lose a whole database full of credit card numbers and addresses will put your own mind at ease as much as it will your customers.
Site security starts from the ground up, so if you’re just building your store, be sure to choose a stable platform that has proven security credentials and certifications. This is one of the many reasons we chose to partner with Shopify as our eCommerce platform of choice. Not only does their checkout process include rock-solid protection from any vulnerabilities, you can also choose to serve your entire store over an SSL certificate. This encrypts any data from your customer and keeps it locked away from any prying eyes, and is included without any additional charge with Shopify’s hosting.
Once you’ve created yourself a nice secure home on the internet, make sure that your customers are aware that you take their security seriously. Include trustmarks somewhere on your store, and place a small note underneath any input boxes that ask for sensitive information that informs the customer that all of their data won’t be shared and is fully secure.
Synced up inventory for a seamless multi-channel experience
Customers aren’t the best at making decisions on the spot. Most people - especially when considering a large purchase - tend to mull it over for a while before pulling the trigger. By making sure your bricks-and-mortar store’s inventory is linked up with your online store, you’re making sure that customers aren’t disappointed as they’re sat at home after visiting you in-person and decide to buy, only to find that the product they were just looking at is out of stock online, or worse, simply doesn’t exist.
This principle doesn’t just work for inventory, keeping the price of your products consistent across your channels is also incredibly important. No one wants to face a penalty for purchasing from the comfort of their armchair, so don’t enforce one. Make sure to keep any discounts in mind also, as customers will still want that 15% off they’ve been sold on in-store.
The process of syncing up your inventory varies wildly on the pain scale. It all depends on what platform your online store uses, and how simple that platform makes it to manually update the inventory for any given product. Most eCommerce platforms (such as Shopify) will at the very least have an app or plugin available to deal with inventory management, or, in the case of Shopify, will be able to natively deal with your stock levels.
Create a beautiful online experience
In summary, it’s about making your customer’s journey with you as simple and seamless as it can be. By implementing the features outlined above, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance of converting physical leads into online sales, and cold customers into brand ambassadors.
If you need help creating a perfect online experience for your audience, please don’t get hesitate to get in touch with us at Statement.