Brief #76: To better (and more) shopping experiences

This content originally appeared on August 19, 2021 as part of the Future of Marketing weekly email series. Subscribe here.

Welcome to Future of Marketing.

Each week, we send you the most relevant trends, resources, and strategies in social and user-generated content (UGC) from leading marketers and brands around the globe.

Today, we’re discussing…

  • Creating seamless retail experiences
  • The future of shopping
  •  #BrandCrush: Sephora 💘

Create seamless retail experiences 

Back to school. Halloween. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Christmas. 

The time to start planning for 2021 retail marketing was yesterday. The next best time is now. According to Reuters

“Walmart is in a particularly strong position [for back-to-school shopping] because it has made huge investments in its online business, but is also ready for the people who want to go back into stores.”

Consumers want more flexibility when it comes to their shopping experience – whether that’s in-person or online. In fact, sixty-four percent (64%) of consumers reported they’re shopping online and picking up items in-person more than pre-pandemic.  

So, now what? 

Start by ensuring your website and social media profiles are updated and accessible – especially considering consumers no longer tolerate slow or complex online (and offline) experiences. It is 2021, after all. 

From the moment someone visits your website to the moment they research your products and make their purchase, your customer journey should be as seamless as possible to appeal to the modern consumer. Websites need to be easy to navigate, product descriptions should be detailed, social media feeds should look crisp, and user-generated content should be at the forefront. After all, one study found that websites can experience a 29% increase in conversions when featuring user-generated content.

The future of shopping

Sixty-four percent of consumers strongly consider online reviews (and actively seek them out) before making a purchase. Cue user-generated content (UGC), where customers and fans talk about your brand (without expectation) – and you have a recipe for success. 

Generally, UGC is created by customers at the 3 most exciting stages of the buying journey:

  1. Right after purchasing the product or service
  2. When they receive the product or service
  3. After they get the benefit of the product or service

For example, on TikTok, hair care brands like “Olaplex” have made quite the splash, as users continuously rave about the positive effects of using their products. Now, Olaplex is resharing UGC – including tips and testimonials – from #Olaplex onto their marketing channels to show shoppers how happy their customers are (definitely a big play for the future of health and beauty marketing). For context, #Olaplex has over 340 MILLION views on TikTok. Reusing this content not only cuts costs needed to produce new content but it builds trust with fans (and gets more people to buy).

Olaplex's TikTok page re-sharing content submitted by fans

Food for thought: For fashion or beauty marketers, shoppable content, micro- and nano-influencers, video, live streaming, and sustainability will all be at the forefront of the future of marketing.

As the proliferation and normalization of social content continues to rise, retailers will need to implement innovative in-store technologies to differentiate themselves and give shoppers a new level of convenience and personalization – online and offline. From contactless payments to digital screens and augmented reality for home try-ons, now is the time to ask customers what they’d like to see from your brand. 

What we’re learning

#BrandCrush: Sephora 💘

Each week in #BrandCrush, we highlight exceptional brands that are channeling their customers' voice to connect more authentically with their audience.

Need marketing inspiration?

Sephora is featuring images, testimonials, and Q&As submitted by shoppers across their product pages to show potential customers the effectiveness of their brands – but here’s another great thing they are doing…

Sephora has a Beauty Insider Community, where fans can gather virtually to ask questions, join challenges, share their looks, swap tips, try new products, and connect with other fans. They even offer the option to buy online and pick up in-store – and sign up for flexible payments (yet another rising trend in retail)!  

Sephora's online Beauty Insider Community showing trending groups and featured photos by fans

Sephora also announced this year’s “Sephoria” event, a virtual house of beauty, which will feature a 3D game-like setup with an interactive beauty experience for fans to explore. Part of the event will focus on Sephora’s push towards sustainability and diversity among beauty brands – which all marketers should be considering.