By Misha Pabari | Marketing Assistant

Consumers in the UK spent £1.1 billion online on beauty products in 2017; this figure in itself highlights why beauty brands must invest in ecommerce.

Add to this that 67% of millenials choose to shop online rather than in-store, and that the closure of department stores is reducing the number of locations for beauty counters, it's clear that brands must have a robust strategy for serving customers online.

Practicology has researched the online and offline shopper journey of six beauty brands - Benefit Cosmetics, Trinny London, BareMinerals, Charlotte Tilbury, MAC Cosmetics and Bobbi Brown - to highlight how they can support customers online at every stage of the purchase journey.

In-store experience

Often front and centre in department stores lies the beauty hall, offering a range of premium brands with striking displays. The in-store shopper journey provides shoppers with the opportunity to connect with the brand on a level that’s often not possible when purchasing the brand online. The ability to physically test products before purchasing is the major benefit of beauty counters. For this reason, guided selling plays a vital role in the sector as part of the in-store customer experience.

Bobbi Brown and MAC Cosmetics both employ staff with excellent product knowledge, and give shoppers the chance to book how-to lessons. Additional in-store services, such as brow bars and makeovers offered by Benefit Cosmetics help to set a brand apart from its competitors and gain loyal customers.

Beauty brands must invest in ecommerce

Online experience

The beauty industry has begun to react to the challenge of digitally engaging consumers, with the rise in popularity of social media resulting in collaborations between influencers and brands. Social channels, when used well, can replicate the theatre of a beauty counter and provide inspiration. 

Trinny London runs its own YouTube channel to engage with customers showing its products in action, while Benefit Cosmetics has a how-to section on its website with video blogs in collaboration with established YouTube beauty influencers recommending products. In Practicology's research into the direct to consumer websites of 20 beauty brands, 95% include rating and review functionality on their online sites, keeping shoppers more informed than ever.

It is also possible for brands to replicate guided selling online. MAC Cosmetics recently introduced a live chat service with pro-artists solving customers' problems.

Beauty brands face the problem of online shoppers not being confident enough to commit to products without physically trying them. Trinny London and BareMinerals have come up with innovative solutions to combat this issue by implementing shade finder tools and through the use of several models of varying skin tones, prompting shoppers to pick the right product to match their needs. In fact, 60% of beauty brands add value for customers with compelling content or helpful tools. 

The multichannel Approach

Both the in-store and online shopper journey contribute positively to customer experience, therefore a blended approach tends to work better than when treated as competing environments. Charlotte Tilbury has built its in-store counters to mimic its online store, with products laid out according to the specific beauty looks advertised.

Similarly, Trinny London’s personalised Match2Me products make up the central theme of its beauty counters and online store. Currently, only 30% of beauty brands promote offline services and events through their websites. On its store locator Benefit Cosmetics allows customers to book beauty appointments directly as an added value for its customers.

Businesses often need to realign their structures and responsibilities to ensure that teams are measured and incentivised to grow both online and offline sales. We've recently talked to a beauty brand who is interesting in reorganising its structure to ensure that its digital offer matches its counter experience to future-proof the business. 

To discuss how Practicology can help to define your digital strategy, trade your direct to consumer website or support yur sales on marketplaces please contact us at

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