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How to Establish a Successful Ecommerce Beauty Brand

Angie Tran

Content Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

Topics Covered:

The time when a few big names dominated the beauty industry is officially no more. Now, thanks to growing interest in online shopping, the ecommerce cosmetics world has grown to nearly $94 billion, filled with various upstart ecommerce beauty brands focused on previously ignored or untapped corners of the market. 

This is great news for consumers, whose beauty routines are no longer dictated by the whims of a handful of corporate executives. It’s also good for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to carve out their own niches.

But it also means competition is at an all-time high — and it’s only going to get worse. Savvy ecommerce beauty brands aren’t phased though, despite consumers’ inability to trial products before purchasing online.

Here are eight ways top ecommerce beauty brands cut through the noise, forge relationships with consumers, and increase online sales. 

For more information on how ecommerce beauty brands can build their online shop:

1. Conduct Thorough Market Research to Identify a Trend or Niche

Because the beauty industry is so crowded, it’s wise to zero in on an emerging trend or an untapped niche rather than reinvent the wheel. That means conducting initial research into the existing product landscape, as well as potential customers and their needs. 

Keep in mind: Market research isn’t limited to the products themselves — it can also include brand distinctions, such as a company’s mission or values. Vive Cosmetics, for example, is a beauty brand that celebrates the Latina and Latinx community, founded in part to address a lack of representation.

Related Tool: Hotjar 

Early market research should also include some pretty intense customer research. After all, you can better serve customers when you have a sense of who they are and what they want.

‍The good news is, this is pretty easy to do. For starters, talk to your existing customers. Ask them why they buy from you — and what you can do better. You can do this via email, chat, or phone, or even ask employees to help if you have physical locations where customers shop, too.

Don’t forget to seek feedback from site visitors by using a tool like Hotjar, which is a behavioral analytics service that allows sites to add features like polls or other surveys. This can help you better understand what brought that consumer to your site — and why they haven’t purchased yet.

2. Nail the Branding

While there is more to a book than its cover, the beauty industry is inherently tied to said cover. And so, an ecommerce beauty brand should project the right image, too. That means nailing all elements of branding, from name and logo to font and color palette, to imagery and beyond.

Each of these elements influences how potential customers perceive your brand. You’ll want to think about what makes your brand unique and then weave it into your branding. A strong example is the makeup brand Redhead Revolution, which expands the cosmetics options available to consumers with red hair by offering targeted products and solutions. 

3. Perfect the Packaging

Perhaps more so than in other industries, packaging is key in beauty. Beyond protecting your products, it’s another opportunity to show the world what your brand represents. And that is both literally and figuratively in terms of how it makes consumers feel, as well as in displaying important information like ingredients or expiration dates. 

Make sure all of these elements work together as part of a harmonious whole as Megan Cox, founder of lash brand Amalie, learned the hard way, when the bristles on her applicator brushes weren’t compatible with the serum, leading them to fall off.

4. Highlight Product Outcomes

Beauty customers usually have specific goals. They want thicker eyelashes, plumper lips, or more hair volume, for example. And so successful beauty brands are not humble. Instead, they brag about what their products can do — and they make this information easy to find. 

Think about it as helping potential customers visualize their future selves. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be with words. Some brands, including Thrive Causemetics, accomplish this with before and after images with a range of models.

Related Tool: EasyTabs

Because onsite product descriptions are so important to the customer experience, beauty brands need to get them right. And an app like EasyTabs can help divvy up product descriptions into tabs for easy browsing. Instead of a single page with multiple paragraphs, EasyTabs separates product descriptions into categories, such as overall description, ingredients, and use cases. In turn, these descriptions not only help boost sites within search, but they also help site visitors make better decisions.

5. Ease Consumer Concerns

 Beauty is inherently personal — products are applied directly onto consumers’ bodies, usually on their faces. So it makes sense that customers are naturally wary of brands they don’t recognize, especially digital-first companies.

‍That’s why it’s important for ecommerce beauty brands to offer FAQs that answer common questions about ingredients, shades, skin types, and potential adverse reactions. Research shows consumers who don’t get answers to these questions will simply walk away from a potential sale.

But also remember your unique brand may generate unique questions, so be sure to answer those, too.

Related Tool: Yotpo 

By now, most consumers read reviews prior to making a purchase. This is especially true in the beauty industry, where online shoppers can’t try out products first. An app like Yotpo helps brands collect reviews and ratings and easily display them on your site, as well as post the best customer content on Instagram.

6. Offer Product Bundles and Subscriptions

 Another way to encourage sales is by bundling products together. This is a long-running beauty industry tactic used today by the likes of KKW Beauty, increasing cart value by encouraging the sale of complementary products. It also helps introduce new products, potentially increasing future sales too. 

If you don’t know which products to sell together, one hot tip is to use Google Analytics to see what customers are already buying together. From there, the bundles virtually create themselves. 

Another sales-generating tactic is to offer subscriptions. This is especially savvy in the beauty category as it helps prevent customers from reassessing competitors’ options when they run out of a given product. Instead, another arrives on their doorstep from your brand. Just be sure to send email reminders before each order is shipped, so you don’t end up with customers angry about surprise charges.

Related Tools: ChargeBee, Chargify, Recurly

‍These billing platforms easily integrate with ecommerce platforms to make implementing and managing subscriptions a breeze. 

7. Eliminate Decision Fatigue

Variety is the spice of life, but in the beauty industry, it can yield customer paralysis. That’s why successful ecommerce beauty brands offer a range of products — but not limitless options. They do this by stocking only those products that are easily distinguishable so customers can quickly compare them to make purchase decisions.

‍‍You may also want to consider adding a quiz to help site visitors choose the right products. Beauty retailer Sephora has implemented this strategy to effectively reduce decision fatigue on its site, which clearly carries a lot more products than a single brand would. 

8. Partner With Influencers and Encourage User-Generated Content (UGC)

No post about beauty in ecommerce would be complete with influencers. That’s because many consumers trust their favorite influencers to give them the inside scoop on the newest hair and makeup products. By forging relationships with the influencers relevant to your specific niche, you can help encourage new customers to try your products.

For a complete guide on creating a micro-influencer campaign:

Related Tool: Yotpo

Yotpo enables beauty brands to pull in customer content from platforms like Instagram on related product pages, helping shoppers get a better idea of what real-world consumers think about the items they are browsing.

For more examples on user-generated content:

Beautiful Potential

Today, the beauty industry has more options than ever to serve customers. While that’s ultimately good for both brands and consumers, it can also make it harder for brands to reach their target audiences and let them know they have the products they’ve been looking for. 

But with the right combination of strategic moves, brands can cut through the noise and communicate effectively with potential customers to increase sales. And for every ecommerce beauty brand looking for help honing their messaging or communication tactics, AdRoll is ready.

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