Shopping habits are changing, a trend significantly accelerated by the market disruption caused by COVID-19.*
There is a crisis occurring on the high street as consumers turn increasingly to online outlets. In the early days of this revolution, it was assumed that sectors like fashion and beauty, which traditionally rely on trying on items before purchasing, might not be affected. But then shoppers worked out that they could treat their home as the fitting room, ordering a selection of items and sending back the ones they don’t want. Now, these sectors too are migrating to the Internet and leaving a vacuum on the high street, as evidenced by House of Fraser’s announcement this month that it is closing half of its retail stores.
The revolution is being driven from both sides. As fast as shoppers migrate to the Internet, brands are coming up with innovative approaches to win their loyalty in that space, contributing to rapid digital growth in beauty marketing. Digital sampling, using Augmented Reality to allow customers to try before they buy, is becoming more sophisticated by the day. Influencers on social media are being enlisted like social sales reps to promote new launches. User data is being applied to personalise the offer to each individual customer.
How online beauty brands can be successful
For a beauty brand to stand out in this new digital marketplace, it needs to embrace all these innovations, as well as other emotive factors such as the ethics of animal-free products and recyclable packaging, and the optimisation of launch schedules to coincide with a much more flexible calendar than the traditional Christmas and other key dates.
Above all, brands it needs to be able to guarantee the same feeling of quality and impact on the doorstep as has been traditionally provided in the boutique.
Using 3pl to harness the D2C beauty boom
At ILG, we are helping our Beauty partners to thrive in the D2C marketplace by enabling competitive advantage in the following ways.:
- Brand differentiation
In order to create an impact on the doorstep, your brand values must be maintained through the packaging of your products. We work very hard to make sure the outer packaging is sufficiently robust to protect the inner packaging, which delivers the wow factor. Charlotte Tilbury eyeshadow, which won Most Photographable Packaging at the Vogue Beauty Awards, is a prime example. We also help our Beauty partners with their remarketing to customers, delivering branded messaging to stimulate additional sales or convey key messages.
- Order personalisation
Beauty is about as personal as a retail sector can get. Brands can enhance the customer experience through sophisticated digital technologies; for example, Trinny London’s Match2Me facility, which enables customers to try different products and tones before buying. Brands can also push products to customers through sampling, based on user data gathered through online purchasing behaviours. Your 3pl needs to have the flexibility and detailed product knowledge to fulfil individual sampling requirements, so a 3pl that offers beauty personalisation is vital for those brands who want to give their audience the best possible experience.
- Demonstrating clear brand values on ethical issues
In recent years, consumer sentiment has shown us that sustainability is central to their purchasing decisions. Beauty brand customers want to know their favourite brands’ products are ethically sourced, and sustainability is a key factor in the competitiveness between the world’s biggest beauty brands.
The inclusion of a Champion for Sustainability category in the Vogue Beauty Awards reflects the growing importance of ethical issues, such as recycling and the use of animal products, and the tendency among consumers to base their purchasing decisions on such matters.
Beauty brands are responding, both by working increasingly with plant-based products and making a much more conscious effort to use recyclable packaging. Our packaging for Trinny London includes a protective bubble bag which doubles as a temporary make-up bag – just one of many examples of packaging being designed to be reusable.
- Customisable delivery choices
Linked to personalisation is the importance of offering delivery that is appropriate to basket value. From a 3pl perspective, that means providing our customers with a range of carriage and delivery options, from standard services for low-value items to express services for high-value, prestige purchases.
With the impact of the Covid pandemic, previous consumer priorities around delivery have been somewhat shaken up. Some users are happy to lower their expectations around speed in favour of safety and security. What this means for brands is that you may find your options opening up for a wider range of delivery priorities, making it more important than ever that you work with a delivery provider that offers flexibility.
- Flexible 3pl to fit your brand’s schedule
Working with key influencers to promote their products gives Beauty brands a much wider range of opportunities to peg new launches to significant occasions, such as an influencer’s birthday, record or film release etc. This requires your 3pl to have the capability to gear up quickly for big promotions. It also requires warehouse capacity, new packaging, staff training and, of course, the addition of a new line to the inventory. For a launch to be seamless, your 3pl needs to be able to take all this in their stride and maintain the standard associated with your products.
Conclusion: 3pl is the forward-thinking solution for online brands
When innovations like online sampling technology are coupled with your products arriving in beautiful, well-branded packaging, you give your customers the same experience they’re used to when they go into a boutique or department store. When the fulfilment and delivery services are properly aligned with your brand, D2C enables beauty consumers to enjoy this experience from the comfort of their living room. And as consumers migrate to the Internet from the high street, the ability to deliver that experience to the doorstep becomes increasingly important.
Find D2C success for your beauty brand
ILG are proud to have worked with a range of exciting beauty and cosmetics brands on their outsourced fulfilment processes. You can find out more about our beauty fulfilment services, or contact the ILG team and discuss options for your brand’s 3PL.
*This blog was last updated in November 2022.