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By: Adam Hindle, Managing Director, Fluid Commerce
In September 2021 we released our Top 50 Health & Beauty Ecommerce Report, the latest in a series of quarterly reports reviewing and analysing the performance of leading ecommerce brands. As this is the second annual edition of the report, we’ve been in the unique situation of being able to compare and contrast what retailers have done to invest in and grow their businesses during the pandemic.
The top ten has changed dramatically, with brands such as Cytoplan, The Executive Shaving Company, Beauty Works, Bodybuilding Warehouse and LullaBellz increasing their score from 2020 by up to 15 percentage points.
What Have the Top Brands Done?
When assessing what those top performing brands have done to improve their rankings, there are three key areas that emerge: Delivery, Payment & Checkout and Speed.
Each of the leading retailers have invested heavily in these elements of ecommerce since the 2020 report was published. And it is no wonder – in order to grow, and survive during a pandemic, brands have had to pay particular attention to these issues.
Prioritising Speed on Desktop and Mobile
Taking a closer look at speed, the Beauty Works website was one of the fastest out of all the brands we reviewed. Since 2020, it has more than doubled the speed of the website on desktop and mobile. How has the retailer achieved this? By transforming the store into a Progressive Web App (PWA).
Headless commerce, like PWAs, is rapidly becoming the future of ecommerce – these sites blend a website and traditional app into one platform. This benefits merchants as they require less development time, but the biggest positive impact is for the user. Rapid speeds means quicker loading time, which means less hanging around waiting for pages, products and videos to appear on screen. Speed is so important for the user experience that Google will positively rank these speedy sites, and demote slow-loading websites.
Transparent and Helpful Delivery
Delivery has always been a key area for retailers, but its significance has increased over the last 18 months. With ongoing issues caused by struggling supply chains and increased demand, delivery has become a critical make-or-break part of the shopping experience. Customers look for transparency, readily available information, and a range of delivery options to suit their needs and budget. Top retailers have been wise to recognise this and invest in their delivery systems.
An inadequate delivery service can lead to serious financial side effects. If an order goes missing or doesn’t turn up on time, customers are more likely to take their repeat business elsewhere. They’re also much more likely to take to social media to publicly complain or leave a negative review warding off other potential shoppers. All of which can be very damaging to a brand’s reputation in the short term and revenue in the long term.
Offering an Optimal Payment & Checkout Process
The payment & checkout process is another area that brands have been wise enough to invest in since the start of the pandemic. Though less glamorous than merchandising home pages, category pages and product pages, payments & checkout is critical to closing the sale. One that is slow, awkward or unsuitable for mobile devices will see abandoned basket levels rise.
A common theme among our top-performing brands was the introduction of more payment options. Solutions like Klarna or Clearpay – which help customers spread the cost of payment without interest – have become increasingly common, to the point that they are almost expected by consumers.
In addition, whereas before shoppers were happy with a choice of either entering their card details directly into the site or using PayPal, more and more brands are now introducing the likes of Amazon Pay, Google Pay and Apple Pay. These options allow customers to rapidly checkout in either the click of a button or the touch of a fingerprint. These secure payment options have all of the shoppers’ payment information ready to go. Removing those extra steps previously required to fill in customer, delivery and billing information, makes it much easier and faster for shoppers to make a purchase. It also massively reduces the risk of abandoned baskets, which is a great thing for merchants.
Investing for 2022 Ecommerce Success
What is clear from the 2021 Health & Beauty report is that if a brand wishes to grow their online business during a pandemic and beyond then they must invest in a wide range of ecommerce elements. They must improve their speeds, review the user-experience, explore how intuitive it is to navigate on desktop and mobile, remove any blockages in the payment and checkout process, and enhance their delivery and customer service options.
With supply chains and stock levels in some sectors still struggling, and with online demand showing no signs of slowing down, brands must go above and beyond to provide a smooth, speedy and slick shopping experience for customers. In doing this, they will drive business growth through the attraction and – most importantly – repeat custom of new users.