I was so excited to attend CEW’s Insider Series: Reinventing Retail Stores. Having worked in the social/digital/online space for a few years now, I hear a lot of e-commerce experts say, “traditional retail is dead”. Well, this event proved them wrong. Traditional retail is not dead, rather it is evolving. Brands and retailers need to start thinking about traditional retail and e-commerce as symbiotic or what’s being called “omnichannel”.
Brick-and-mortar stores aren’t dead – they are being reinvented to reflect the importance of in-person discovery. The drivers and innovations in recreating the way consumers shop for beauty products was the topic of CEW’s Beauty Insider Series at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City recently.
A panel of industry experts, including Lauren Brindley, GVP and GMM of Beauty and Personal Care, Walgreens; David Olsen, CEO, Cos Bar; and Kecia Steelman, Chief Store Operations Officer, Ulta Beauty discussed the dynamics between online and brick-and-mortar commerce and how they create customer-centric experiences to drive loyalty.
These panelists shared insights into the shifts in consumer shopping habits and how their companies are innovating in-store engagement and service strategies for their customers. The panel, moderated by Jenny B. Fine, Editor of WWD Beauty Inc., also shared what they look for in potential brand partners, current trends, and the marketing programs, from both a brand and retailer perspective, that are driving sales.
“The reinvention of the brick-and-mortar beauty market has been exciting to watch,” said Carlotta Jacobson, President of CEW. “It’s important to recognize how these retail stores are evolving with the beauty landscape. Our members can learn a lot from these industry innovators and how they’re pushing the needle when it comes to brick-and-mortar stores.”
Stats mentioned by the panel that included senior executives from Walgreens, CosBar and ULTA Beauty:
– ULTA saw 32 percent growth in sales, with e-commerce showing a whopping 52% growth
– CosBar saw a jump in e-commerce growth from 2 to 15 percent
– Walgreens is seeing higher shares than ever
– Brands need to think Omni-channel (connecting with consumers on their terms) – brands must have a strong presence in both
– Omni-channel customer spends more money than either online or Brick consumer
– Brands must think omni-channel first (not separate brick-and-mortar and ecommerce)
– Businesses must bring your entire team together (digital and retail store teams)
– Millennial is fastest growing and they are almost experts. So ULTA beauty advisors need to be knowledgeable
– ULTA currently has 996 locations and every door has a salon
– Walgreens has 8000 doors. Service is in their blood, given they are a pharmacy brand. So in beauty, they are looking to bring the same level of service
– With all of the new technologies becoming available (VR Virtual Reality, AR Augmented Reality, AI Artificial intelligence), these experts recommend being careful using them so that they add value to the consumer journey and make it seamless, not gimmicky.
All 3 Retailers Responded to the question, what does a brand need to do get picked up by them and be offered in their doors?
ULTA – To get into ULTA, they want brands that are going to work with them to build their businesses together. Does the brand answer a gap in their current product assortment? Is the brand willing to be exclusive to us?
CosBar – To get into CosBar, you have to be luxury brand. Have great product efficacy. A great story on the founder is important too.
Walgreens – To get into Walgreens, you need a differentiated position, be on trend (but not a fad)
When asked what brand or retailer is doing omni-channel marketing really well, one panelist said Home Depot is best in class.
What are your thoughts on the reinvention of retail stores?
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– Ron Robinson, Cosmetic Chemist and Founder of BeautyStat.com