The Beauty of Being Omnichannel in the UK

all-in-one-compact-1Even though e-commerce retail sales have been on the incline in the UK, the beauty industry’s e-commerce is lacking. The overall UK retail online sales have improved 19.8 percent, while the beauty industry actually only makes up 11.3 percent of online sales. New in-store high tech experiences  have not found success yet in the beauty industry there,  so companies are now looking to up their online stance by improving their customers online experience. “Forty-four percent of U.K. Beauty brands now feature guided-selling process on site, including 25 percent which provide a virtual makeover tool. Online pharmacies including and, are also actively investing in fulfillment in omnichannel strategies. Five of the six offer Click and Collect, and 59 percent of sales are now collected in store.”

During the holiday season of 2014, “61 percent of U.K. shoppers found gift ideas from researching and 50 percent from searching on google. Social media remains less important for product discovery, with just 23 percent citing Facebook as a source for gift ideas. Although many consumers go directly to Amazon for product discovery, the retail destination is also reaching consumers through Google searches. Amazon. was returned on the first-page of search results in 30 percent of non- branded keyword searches (e.g., “makeup”) conducted on” Google, Amazon, and Facebook are all positioned to expand their brand media budgets.

The UK boasts the highest percentage of smartphone-made sales,32 percent in fact,  compared to Europe overall, where France is only 8 percent, 15 in Germany and 19 in Sweden, but these companies need to be thinking about the big picture because “digital influence on purchase often starts in-store on the small screen. A majority of consumers (56 percent) compare prices, read product reviews, and download coupons while they are in a store, yet only 40 percent of Index brands offer ratings and reviews on their mobile sites. When they are back home, another 61 percent are likely to buy an item online that they first saw in a physical store.” Brands are now adding new features on their webpages to up sales, with Digital IQ finding that brands with videos on their cites will rise from 57% to 76% in 2015, user reviews from 37% to 42%, sort results from 25% to 31%, quick view from 15%to 36%, and live chat from 15% to 21%. 

Compared with last year, brands with mobile-optimized sites have improved search and navigation. “Space-efficient menus are a ubiquitous feature, present on 91 percent of mobile- optimized sites, up from 75 percent in 2014. While 78 percent of mobile-optimized sites (43 brands) offer store locators, only 55 percent (30 brands) offer geolocation prompts accompanying store locators. This is an increase over last year, when 61 percent of brands provided store locators, and just 45 percent offered geolocation.”

The Body Shop, Benefit and Clinique are the top dogs in the UK beauty brands, while Ponds, Roc and Clearasil are lacking and  with many beauty brands struggling to keep up with big brands such as Amazon and Google, they will need to up their omnichannel game and evolve to keep up. It will be interesting to see what happens to these brands in 2015. “Beauty: UK 2015″