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Our Digital IQ Index: Beauty report revealed that e-commerce in the category grew by an astonishing 29.1% in 2012. The category as a whole grew 6% that year. To capture their share of e-commerce, many brands have improved their online, mobile, tablet and social media features in 2013. 75% of the 85 brands in our Index offer samples with online purchase. 79% are on Instagram. 72% have mobile-optimized sites. 83% provide consumer reviews, and 72% provide samples with purchase.

Fulfillment, or post-purchase experience, however, is a different story. Of 54 brands sampled from our Index, only 61% included a return label in the shipment box at the time of the study. A fifth required consumers to email or call to process a return. And only 21% had next-day delivery.

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A positive post-purchase experience is critical to brand loyalty, and by extension sales, because repeat customers spend five times other shoppers. In a recent video interview, L2 Director of Research Maureen Mullen described the beauty e-commerce landscape as an arms race. Many of the major category brands already excel in driving digital consumers to the purchase phase. Brands who want a leg up will need to improve fulfillment as well.

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