Why Lush’s Customers Prefer the Store Over Ecommerce

Interview with Brandi Halls, director of brand communications for North America at Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics

Author: Tricia Carr

March 7, 2017

Unlike department stores and clothing chains, health and personal care retailers saw an increase in sales at the brick-and-mortar level during the holiday season last year. eMarketer’s Tricia Carr spoke with Brandi Halls, director of brand communications for North America at Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, about the factors that contributed to the personal care brand’s 30% year-over-year growth in holiday sales—and why 90% of those sales happened in stores. 

eMarketer: What was the holiday season like for Lush?

Brandi Halls

Brandi Halls: Shopping was a little softer in November this year vs. other years, but came on fast and steady in December. We had our best sales month on record in December, and the last seven days before Christmas were record breakers for us. December 23 was our highest sales day on record, at nearly double the sales of Black Friday.

In line with a lot of the retail industry, November was a challenging month [for Lush]. The election shook people. The first two weeks of November were surprising for the industry. But those last seven days surprised us, [in terms of] how fast and furious sales rolled in.

eMarketer: Did the majority of Lush’s holiday sales come from the store or ecommerce?

Halls: About 90% of our sales come through our retail stores. In our digital business, we saw that around 60% of traffic to our website was mobile traffic over the holidays. But we also noticed that revenues coming from mobile didn’t line up with that percentage. This tells us our customers researched the brand on their smartphones, and then came to our retail locations to pick up the products they wanted.

We know the incredible value of mobile in a retail business, but sales don’t have to come through that channel. Our customers want the experience of a Lush store, but they do their homework before they come in.

“Having the right products in the right place at the right time for our customers allowed us to break our own records [during the 2016 holiday season].”

eMarketer: How did Lush draw people into stores during the holidays?

Halls: The Lush brand is based on our product innovation and our speed to market. One of the best ways we engage our customers is by how quickly we launch products. Over the holidays, we launched 55 limited-edition products and 45 limited-edition gift items—that’s almost a hundred fresh products for shoppers to come in and check out. That volume sets us apart from a lot of other beauty companies.

eMarketer: What are the biggest takeaways from the holiday season?

Halls: One takeaway is the value of inventory management. We don’t make products in advance and store them in warehouses: We make products fresh and get them out to our stores quickly. This creates a complex distribution system in order for us to ensure that freshness. Having the right products in the right place at the right time for our customers allowed us to break our own records this year.

The other big takeaway is that the in-store experience still needs to be a priority for retail businesses. Last year we found our stores weren’t big enough for the number of customers who wanted to get into them. This year we introduced mobile [point of sale] POS in all our stores. We were able to check people out without requiring them to line up. This technology helped us offer a better customer experience.

“We don’t make products in advance and store them in warehouses: We make products fresh and get them out to our stores quickly.”

eMarketer: Why do you think the health and personal care category experienced growth in in-store sales during the holidays?

Halls: Shoppers want more than just products—we see that across retail in general. There are stores that are entirely based around the experience, and people are after that right now. In the personal care industry it’s about the experience of using products, and that begins in the store.

eMarketer: Department stores did not fare well over the holiday season. What does that say about shoppers?

Halls: They’re looking for a more personalized shopping experience, and they’re getting that from smaller boutique retailers and companies that make customer service their number one priority. Shoppers get personalization in digital from the use of big data, but shoppers expect a personalized experience [across the board]—they even expect personalized products. They want to be a part of creating and designing a product. That’s a very different model from a department store, which is essentially there to cater to all. 


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