To say that COVID-19 has hit the beauty and fashion industries hard is an understatement of epic proportions. Retail sales have been weak and store closings are too frequent; there were over 11,000 fashion store closures in December 2020.
This has led to massive investment in digital transformation. As the Zinnovs Digital Engineering in Retail study revealed, the retail sector – spurred on by COVID-19 – has invested in what would otherwise have been three years of digital transformation in just six months. This inevitably led to intense competition for market share.
While it may all sound bleak and daunting, the key to survival is resilience and a digitally-focused mindset. It means reconfiguring the way brands think and delivering a great digital / mobile experience to their customers. So, rather than continuing as usual, many brands are now integrating new technologies (experiential and backend optimization) and adding new features and capabilities in their websites and mobile apps that recreate the physical in-store experience, but in security of customers’ homes (and digital / mobile devices).
Retailers need to crack down to be resilient and stay competitive in 2021 with a few key strategies.
Upgrade with augmented and virtual reality capabilities
A key part of the in-store beauty experience is the ability for customers to try on makeup in person. Seeing is believing after all. Since this is simply no longer an option due to COVID-19 hygiene rules, beauty brands have had to make the trial experience available virtually. LOreal India, for example, has launched a virtual makeup trial feature on their website that allows users to see what a beauty product or hair color looks like (at home) using the live camera to take a photo or upload a photo taken previously. Photo.
Meanwhile, local brand FabIndia has launched a white glove service in all of its 114 physical stores, where customers can scan a QR code in the storefront and browse catalogs and personalized lookbooks securely. They can also contact the store’s personal shopper via WhatsApp to select, purchase and deliver the desired products to them.
Increased engagement across multiple touchpoints
In this new COVID-19 reality where digital is everything, there is still an overwhelming desire and need for offline experiences. The key is to seamlessly blend online and offline experiences. Sephora is a beauty brand that does this exceptionally well. He spent time analyzing and understanding the behaviors and preferences of his customers and found that Sephora customers tend to seek out product reviews and special offers on other sites. Realizing this, Sephora took action and worked to recreate the traditional personal shopping assistant experience on its app, providing key insights into product recommendations, reviews, pricing, and more. . Not only could Sephora customers continue and increase their engagement with the brand they love so much, but they could also gain various kinds of information that they would normally find elsewhere – keeping them engaged with Sephora longer and retaining them more.
In India, more than 81% of beauty product consumers interact with beauty product designers on YouTube, and 26% have purchased a product after watching a beauty video. So it’s no surprise that beauty brands are doubling down on their social media marketing and engagement strategies. Instagram, in particular, is a favorite among beauty clients. It has a lot to do with the visual nature of the platform and the ability to create and publish stories. Watch what YBP Cosmetics is doing – they create a constant stream of images, videos and stories that share real makeup tips and tutorials. With over 37,000 Instagram followers and hundreds of likes and comments on each post, the strategy is working well for them.
Delivering on e-commerce’s promise of faster deliveries and better deals
In the world of e-commerce, price and speed reign supreme. The proliferation of next day delivery and year-round discounts allow customers to shop until they find the best value for their favorite brands.
To respond to this change in customer behavior, fashion and beauty brands are investing in logistics and e-commerce solutions. They also offer more attractive discounts and packages to prove their value to customers. For example, skincare and makeup brands often roll out limited-time sets and packages with exclusive add-ons and accessories that are only available online.
Reviews are a very important feature of e-commerce, especially in the beauty and fashion industries. Customers rely heavily on them both as a source of information and as a source of feedback. We’ve all had our fair share of poor and frustrating customer experiences – receiving a broken or expired makeup item or waiting weeks for our products to arrive at our doorstep. When these mishaps happen, the first thing most customers do in the digital age is to go online and post negative reviews on the retailer site.
Negative reviews can be detrimental to retailers in a number of ways – they can erode customer trust, cause once-loyal customers to buy elsewhere, and as a result, result in lost sales and revenue in the long run. This is why brands are investing more time and resources in their supply and logistics chain – to keep business operations running smoothly so that disruption does not lead to negative customer reviews, resulting in lower loyalty and sales. It is a ripple effect and one that can certainly be mitigated.
(The author of the article is CEO, Builder.ai)
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