At the heart of philosophy’s warm and polished website is a dedicated beauty brand e-commerce team and a senior manager who knows the power of authentic content and customer feedback. ResellerRatings recently sat down with Alara Aktan, Director of E-commerce Sales for parent company Coty, to talk about the evolving online shopping experience and the enduring value of the voice of the customer.
Our conversation went deep into many topics. Here are Alara’s five critical e-commerce insights all retailers can apply to their holiday season strategies, and to other momentous occasions like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
Timing is everything
You don’t get to decide when the holidays start, your customer does.
philosophy launched an exclusive campaign to a select tier of customers in their loyalty program—and they did it early, at the end of September. That timing lines up with shopping trends identified by ResellerRatings’ parent company ForeSee, which confirms that 16% of people start holiday shopping in October and 49% in November.
“To remain competitive, retailers must embrace dynamic consumer needs and be prepared for early holiday shoppers.”Alara Aktan
For philosophy, engaging with customers early through targeted campaigns and seasonal promotions ensures accessibility for October shoppers and prepares the brand for Cyber Week, which is increasingly the highest concentrated week for online sales for many brands.
Rewards are a welcome gift
While rewards are nothing new, philosophy recently launched a rewards program which enables the company to better focus on unique and member-exclusive promotions. The multi-tier, personalized program, with in-store and online components, helps them connect with the philosophy woman in a more meaningful way than brands without a strong digital DNA can achieve.
“What makes philosophy special are all the personal touches we create throughout the shopping journey.
The philosophy brand feels personal, emotional—and we constantly look for ways to fortify our relationship with the philosophy woman.”Alara Aktan
Gift guides personalize the experience
“Creating an unmatched shopping experience is high priority. The key is knowing what your customer wants during the holiday season—what she’s shopping for—and doing everything you can to support her.”Alara Aktan
Gift guides are one of the most popular holiday features at philosophy and can be the equivalent of that friendly and helpful in-store clerk to help surface the right products based on category, price, and recipient.
Investing in more personalized tools and features was a big focus for philosophy for the 2018 holiday season. Retailers like philosophy are keen to invest in new technologies, like AI to augment the shopping journey and provide an even more tailored experience; chatbots to support shoppers with order status questions, or surveys to better guide the overall shopping experience. Advancing the online shopping process—making it simple, unique, and meaningful—is changing the way savvy brands like philosophy compete.
Shipping matters—a lot
Perhaps as important as giving the right gift is having it there on time. Based on customer feedback, this season philosophy got even more proactive, committing to communication and letting customers know about cut-off dates and shipping times at multiple touch points in the shopping journey, not just at checkout. Same for the return policies.
“Highlighting important cut-off dates and providing shoppers with timelines is making us more competitive and is increasing engagement throughout the process.”Alara Aktan
Customer reviews and feedback help guide the way
Customer reviews remain the best way to build confidence and get the word out to other shoppers. ResellerRatings research confirms that people are 90% more likely to buy from a brand that has mostly positive reviews. That’s why philosophy pays a lot of attention to reviews, both because of the value of social proof and because capturing and acting on feedback improves the whole experience.
“The key value has been amplifying our brand reviews to gain customer trust. Surfacing ratings and reviews throughout our buyer’s journey has showcased the quality of our products and has directly increased organic traffic.”Alara Aktan
What’s clear from Alara’s advice is that an e-commerce holiday shopping strategy has long been underway at philosophy. And it all begins with understanding what your customer wants by analyzing the data, looking at all the signals and customer feedback across channels, and then acting on that feedback to deliver an unforgettable customer experience.
Learn how ResellerRatings can help you connect with and delight shoppers this holiday season with Reviews Suite. Request your personalized briefing today.