While some fashion merchants have recently been suffering from the “retail apocalypse”, the beauty industry continues to perform well and is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years (Quartz). Interestingly, new opportunities in the cosmetics sector are also arising: beauty subscription boxes have never been so popular, and some major e-tailers are also offering up their own versions of monthly sample boxes. Beauty retailers must have a deep understanding of their customers and anticipate their evolving needs. Here are the top four smart moves successful beauty retailers are making today:
1. Acknowledge millennials as their largest customer base and respond to their unique needs
Millennials’ growing interest for makeup and skincare has played a major factor in beauty retailers’ booming revenues. In fact, women 18 to 34 form the largest portion of the $13 billion-dollar cosmetics market, and they’re more likely to be heavy buyers, purchasing more than 10 types of products per year (Racked). From their store layouts to tools and technology, these retailers have adapted to the millennials’ lifestyles in ways that some merchants in other retail sectors would be wise to follow. Young customers enjoy multitasking and brands make it easy for them: when in store they use free WiFi to check the latest reviews online, and scroll the store’s Instagram to shop for the top trends in makeup and skincare.
2. Offer both transactional and experiential rewards to their best customers
Whether it’s through small gifts or discounts, customers love to be rewarded for their brand loyalty. Experiential rewards are also effective incentives beauty brands can use to delight and retain loyal customers. Free sessions with makeup artists enable today’s shoppers to learn new techniques, all while having the opportunity to leave with products that actually work for them. Loyalty programs in which empty products can be exchanged for free full-sized items are also popular in the beauty world: they make customers feel good about their environmental efforts and leave a positive lasting impression (Forbes). What’s more, they keep the customers returning to the store, driving regular traffic and providing more opportunities for the brand to engage with them.
3. Use social networks to their advantage
Purchasing makeup and skincare products online can be intimidating to many shoppers. However, the Internet is the perfect place for consumers to find inspiration and tutorials on sites or apps like Pinterest and Instagram. Young people, in particular, tend to turn to these outlets, as 65% of teens rely on social media to discover and pick new beauty products (Forbes). What’s more, brand ambassadors are not just models or celebrities anymore – they are also relatable people like YouTubers – who can truly resonate with customers, as their opinions are seen as being less biased. Including Instagram pictures on your e-commerce platform is also a great way for customers to connect with your brand.
4. Make the shopping experience as meaningful online as in store
Have you ever entered a Sephora store, been greeted by a sales associate, and walked away discovering and purchasing products you never knew existed, and that you had not planned to purchase when you first entered? Such successful beauty retailers have knowledgeable store associates who use highly effective mobile point of sale and clienteling solutions to make the shopping experience more personal and more convenient. Customers want shopping to be an enjoyable experience, but they also expect to leave with high-quality products, making the entire visit memorable. Customers also care about the manufacturing processes the products go through and are pleased when their favorite products have not been tested on animals, and are non-GMO. Today’s consumers even read the ingredients on the labels, and are happy if they can actually recognize the ingredients. Beauty retailers need to ensure that their associates are also super-informed about their products’ origins, ingredients, features, and benefits. That’s another important way that mobile solutions like clienteling and MPOS can help: by equipping them with product data at their fingertips.
The beauty retail vertical has shown a particular talent for omni-channel digital experiences, and the more innovative they are in their approach, the likelier they are to prosper. Other retail verticals can learn from these retailers as they adapt their stores, websites and other channels to meet evolving consumer demands.