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Grow Through E-commerce

By: Mark Pierce, MarketLive
Posted: January 20, 2011, from the January 2011 issue of GCI Magazine.

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Bliss capitalizes on the expertise of staff at its physical spa locations, presenting links throughout the website to “expert spa ‘glow-how’.” Subject matter experts present advice and information in Q&A format, organized by topic—giving shoppers a library of knowledge to consult as they browse products.

Leading merchants also employ video to provide helpful instructional content. Carol’s Daughter provides how-to videos organized by hair and skin type, and links to them from individual product pages—adding another dimension of content for shoppers to browse.

Pervasive Customer Service

Because beauty shoppers aren’t merely seeking a product, but a holistic solution, it’s key to, in addition to providing highly accessible information available at fingertips, provide them with an easy means for seeking further assistance. Beauty e-commerce leaders make it easy to get in touch by placing their toll-free customer service number in the global header and providing similarly easy access to email links and store locators (if physical locations exist). And increasingly, shoppers are using live chat links to get quick answers to pressing questions; Forrester estimates that 15% of online shoppers now use live chat, and the percentage is growing.

Robust service can also take the form of self-service, with customers supplying information to other customers. On Gaiam’s website, questions about personal care products are displayed on individual product pages, with members of the customer community and company experts stepping up to provide the answers.

Replenishment & Loyalty—Compel Shoppers to Reorder

Once shoppers have connected with products that address their needs, leading beauty merchants make it easy for customers to reorder. Unlike apparel or furniture, beauty products are perishable and need to be replaced regularly. So easing repeat orders provides a useful service to customers, as well as a means for merchants to boost loyalty.