n the Ecom Experts, we focus on e-commerce thought leadership and insight by conducting short interviews with industry leaders and influencers who, through their unique experience and category leadership, have gained special perspectives on the growth and direction of online shopping. Meet Xue Li, Senior Merchandising Manager at Philosophy.com.
What do you like best about working in e-Commerce?
I love the competition in e-Commerce. It's fast and fierce, and in the end, it's about who understands the online shopper the best. The playing field is evened out - price is 100% transparent, there is a plethora of information, it's a 24/7 marketplace, and there are no physical restrictions to shopping. So it's really about who services the shopper the best, and who understands and feeds the underlying motivations behind their customers.
What are some of the unique challenges e-Commerce creates for merchandising?
The main challenge in merchandising for e-Commerce is the lack of a 3D, multi-sensory experience. This results in very short attention spans for online messaging.
Two good examples:
- 1. Selling a new fragrance exclusively online. Fragrance preferences are very personal and vary from person to person - the purchase decision funnel requires experiencing the olfactory sensations.
- 2. A supersize product vs. a regular size product is hardly distinguishable within a banner space or a product image whereas in a store setting you'd grasp it right away in the 3D context.
What are some of the most critical things for beauty marketers to keep in mind when developing an e-Commerce strategy?
Beauty is an e-Commerce category that truly benefited from the burgeoning content marketing industry. Online beauty content is where many Youtube bloggers have really made a killing, resulting in celebrity status that is unheard of. In e-Commerce beauty, it's really important to widen your competitive lens to not just other big brands that sell beauty online, but also to brands and content marketers that do a really great job of gaining and maintaining share of voice in the beauty space.
What was the last beauty product you bought online?
The last beauty product I bought online was a Wedding set from Philosophy.com for a bridal gift. I was also testing the service and shipping time on our website.
You spent several years at Reckitt Benckiser, how would you compare the e-Commerce environment in beauty vs personal care products?
The main difference is not beauty vs. personal care but more prestige vs. mass. On Philosophy, I'm not worried about whether my facial cleanser should be priced at $5 or $6 (it's much higher than that!). I'm worried if my customer - who is willing to pay $24 for the product because she loves it - is having the best, most personalized experience and service. In a mass environment, the "proof" that the product works is more important.