Meeting the increasing demands of health and beauty shoppers when it comes to delivery

09 Apr 2020 Greg Beszant Ecommerce , New Feature , Sustainability

Customer expectations are higher than they’ve ever been – and this couldn’t ring more true than for health and beauty shoppers. For decades, a hyper-competitive industry has meant that to be successful, brands and retailers have had to be at the very forefront of customer experience when it comes to product choice and shopper engagement. As health and beauty has moved online, and the industry becomes increasingly digital, today’s health and beauty customer demands the same engaged and personalised experience at every step of the customer journey, through to delivery – expecting retailers to meet them wherever they are, whenever they want.

 

The demands of today’s health and beauty shopper

The high demands of health and beauty shoppers when it comes to customer experience are nothing new. Long before e-commerce, dedicated counters – both in brand-owned and department stores – have enabled shoppers to engage with their favourite beauty brands, providing them opportunities to test and interact with products, demonstrated by experts. Few other industry verticals offered shoppers such product choice or brand engagement. 

Many of today’s health and beauty retailers have built on these successful offline engagement foundations and adapted them to e-commerce. Customers are now rarely being sold to in department stores, but via video tutorials across social channels. The last 10 years have seen retailers such as Amazon, Glossier, Cult Beauty, Feel Unique, Look Fantastic and allbeauty among others, further elevate the expectations of shoppers when it comes to choice, value, shipping, delivery and consequently, convenience. Indeed, Birchbox and Glossybox have built whole businesses on providing customers with a choice of products in a selection box, conveniently delivered every month on subscription.

In a vertical where multiple retailers often sell equivalent branded products, ensuring that customers expectations are met across every element of their proposition becomes paramount – else shoppers will go elsewhere.

This resonates when it comes to delivery, and especially delivery within health and beauty. We know that 60% of e-commerce shoppers will shop elsewhere if the delivery options offered by a competitor are more convenient. (MetaPack) We know that today’s shoppers will compare and choose e-commerce delivery options across sites in the same way they compare and choose products. Indeed, health and beauty shoppers, in particular, expect (and are well-versed in selecting from) a wide range of options when it comes to convenience and delivery. 

In line with this, ensuring customers are offered the choices they expect when it comes to delivery, becomes a key differentiator for brands and retailers alike.

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What do customers expect when it comes to delivery?

Lifestyle patterns are changing. Whilst home delivery is popular now with much of the country at home during this public health crisis, trends leading up to the virus outbreak showed that it suits fewer shoppers now than it has ever done.

When the UK finally emerges from the current COVID-19 lockdown, it’s undeniable that people’s remote and office working patterns will have become more flexible. Traditional e-commerce delivery methods, such as standard and next-day-delivery, will no longer cut it as people’s lives become unpredictable from one day to the next. Customer expectations will be higher and shoppers will need choice, so that there’s a delivery option available that suits them, at the particular moment they are checking out

Alongside providing choice, the delivery options offered have to be convenient. Next day delivery as the sole alternative to standard delivery, is only convenient for those shoppers who know they will be at home the following day. For many, the lack of certainty of where there’ll be day to day means that more flexible, convenient options must be made available to meet customer demand. Research by Barclaycard, saw 42% of consumers say that they rely on Click & Collect services because they are out during the day, and a further 15% select this option because they cannot have deliveries sent to work.

Finally, consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their shopping habits. We’re having the ever-growing macro conversation around the damage to the environment and our carbon footprint. Indeed, Nielsen reported 53% of Gen Z are planning on using direct home delivery less in the future to reduce their carbon footprint. When it comes to e-commerce delivery, it’s more important than ever to ensure shoppers are offered greener options – and this couldn’t be more true than in health and beauty.

 

Clean Beauty, Sustainable Delivery

Consumer spend in health and beauty continues to grow, with clean health and wellness set to grow dramatically over the next decade. (Edge by Ascential). 

The issue of sustainability is now of greater importance to beauty and health retailers.  We’ve seen Sephora invest in specialised stores for eco-friendly and clean beauty products, with this type of initiative aligned with the demands of their shoppers. The establishment and growth of brands like all-natural skincare company, UpCircle, who only sell products made from byproduct ingredients, helping avoid landfill waste, supports this further.

From ethical sourcing and testing to reduced plastic and recyclable packaging, today’s health and beauty consumers are passionate about the sustainability credentials of every brand they invest in. They’re just as discerning when it comes to delivery options and ensuring the method they choose at checkout doesn’t add to their carbon footprint. They’ll know that 5 different delivery vans delivering customers’ items to 5 different addresses on the same street isn’t sustainable – and will prioritise cleaner alternatives either, where possible, via electric vehicles or, more commonly, via Click & Collect where drop-offs can be aggregated.

 

When expectations are met, shoppers reward their retailers

Shoppers spend more when they choose Click & Collect. When customers know that items won’t be left on their doorstep, or their deliveries won’t be returned to the delivery depot because they’re not at home to receive them, e-commerce shoppers are willing to spend more and add more items to their cart. Last year, we saw that when Click & Collect was selected at checkout, basket values were, on average, 15% greater than home delivery.

Furthermore, customers that predominantly choose Click & Collect at checkout make online purchases three times more frequently than shoppers who predominantly chose home delivery. 

 

Looking forward

These are unprecedented times. The effects of the COVID-19 lockdown will have accelerated the growth of e-commerce as a proportion of retail and reduced that of traditional brick and mortar retailing. Indeed some reports state that 4000 retail units may not open again. 

For retailers whose store locations remain, in-store Click & Collect will play an important role in driving lucrative footfall into stores and engaging shoppers with brands. Equally, for those without stores or who once had stores, local collection points will provide an invaluable footprint so customers can still benefit from Click & Collect.

As the world of retail changes ever-faster, it’s becoming more crucial than ever that retailers adapt to ensure they are well-positioned to meet the demands and expectations of their e-commerce customers once normality resumes.

Health and beauty retailers that are using this time to focus on how they can meet, and exceed, the delivery expectations of their customers, put themselves in the strongest position to succeed.

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