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UK health & beauty brands need to improve on post-purchase CX

While UK health and beauty retailers have vastly improved their ecommerce offerings during lockdown, their post-purchase customer experience (CX) lags behind that of other retail sectors, according to new data from parcelLab.

In the ‘Operations Experience (OX) in the UK Health & Beauty Industry’ Report, parcelLab benchmarks performance of 50 of the UK’s leading health and beauty retailers across key operations experience (OX) metrics – including checkout, shipping and returns. The report reveals that, while the brands have invested in technologies to get the customer to convert, once the purchase had been made there was little or no communication or engagement with the shopper.

92% of health and beauty retailers fail to communicate with customers during the shipping process, parcelLab’s data showed, leaving them in the dark as to the status of their order, while 96% failed to deliver personalised communication during delivery.  Fulfilment communication black holes present a common challenge for retailers across the board irrespective of sector; analysis of the top 150 UK retailers across all sectors showed 87% still ignore their customers during the delivery process.

Health and beauty retailers risk losing opportunities to re-engage shoppers and build long-term loyalty, just at the time when their ecommerce continues to boom. The sector has seen accelerated online growth, sustained by the Covid-19 lockdowns; prestige beauty sales in 2020 grew 38% year on year, while digital beauty sales are expected to climb to $85.52 billion globally by 2022.

Tobias Buxhoidt, Founder and CEO of parcelLab, said: “Health & beauty is traditionally an in-person purchase, so it’s no surprise how quickly and innovatively we have seen these businesses build digital capabilities, often that mirror the in-store experience, into their ecommerce models.  But, much of this focus has been in the discovery and pre-purchase phase of the buying journey – from social commerce capabilities to influencer marketing, augmented reality virtual product testing and AI-powered product personalisation.

“By investing all that effort and resource in getting the customer to the point of purchase, only to stop engaging with them after they’ve hit the buy button means these businesses could be missing the opportunity to converting new online customers into repeat buyers and returning customers into brand advocates to fuel future sales.”

While 66% of health and beauty retailers did offer next-day delivery as the most popular fulfilment option, use of click and collect, either through in-store collection or via parcel shop operators, such as Doddle or Collect+, was low, meaning customer delivery choice and convenience was compromised.  Just 50% of health & beauty retailers respectively offer click and collect to shoppers, compared to 89% of the top 150 UK retailers across other sectors.

The same lack of choice is reflected in returns options, with 84% of health & beauty retailers offering just one format by which customers can send an item back, creating friction and a lack of flexibility in supporting the customer with a return.

You can download the full report here.

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