Inside The BodyShop: Staying Agile in a Shifting Landscape

Natasha Sholl By Natasha Sholl | 12 Apr 2019

The Body Shop was talking sustainability and almond milk way before they were mainstream. So how does a business that boomed way back when, stay on top today?

One whiff of a Body Shop product brings many instantly back to major life events. Indeed most of my formative years were spent in a cloud of White Musk with several pots of Born Lippy lip balm on the go (Strawberry, always). Yet when Generation X-ers and Millennials are feeling nostalgic about a brand or product, it’s rare for that brand to still resonate with current-day consumers. The Body Shop, however, is still riding its (mango scented) wave of success.

The evolution of The Body Shop is a lesson in agility and scaling with purpose. It opened its first Australian store in 1983 and its direct selling business The Body Shop At Home™ in 1997. Its online store launched in 2000. Four years ago, it created a dedicated e-commerce team to drive the growth of its website.

The ‘story’ of The Body Shop and what it stands for have always been central to its success, and its e-commerce growth is no different. “While selling is a key objective of the website, storytelling and education is just as important,” says Heath Tully, E-Commerce Director at The Body Shop. “We prioritise our Community Trade partnerships, ingredient storytelling and campaigning history. This is our founder Anita Roddick’s legacy and a true pillar of what The Body Shop stands for.”

A key focus on the website is education. It works with over 30 Community Trade suppliers all around the world after commencing with its first supplier back in 1987. “We have a strong history of successful activism and the website is a really important tool in communicating these initiatives with our customers,” Tully explains.

The Body Shop rightfully claimed its place in Power Retail’s Top 100 Online Retailers. “We are most grateful to have been included in the list!” says Tully. “We are very proud of our achievement and thankful for being recognised amongst so many diverse retailers. We’ve been very proactive in creating a better online experience for our customers. This has been driven by us analysing the data we’ve collected from the new technology, which has enabled us to create better solutions.” 

So what has contributed to The Body Shop’s success? Tully tells us that much of its success over the last 12 months can be attributed to the following initiatives:

  • Replatforming onto Hybris in March 2018
  • The development of new delivery methods 
  • Rolling out a loyalty program both online and in store 
  • The launch of its personalisation tool and strategy 

“Personalisation is a key emerging trend and an important part of the experience we want our customers to have on site,” explains Tully. “As such, we launched a personalisation tool and developed a strategy to support this in 2018.”

“In the last year we have also added Live Chat to our customer service offering,” Tully adds. “This service is being used for general customer service queries as well as skincare advice. It’s our hope that this helps our customers, no matter where they are located to receive product solutions to suit their skincare concerns.”

What’s next for The Body Shop? Tully tells us the company is still exploring new payment options and delivery methods. With customer service at the heart of everything, the team is currently analysing data to help create the best overall experience online. “The plan is to evolve our strategy to prioritise personalisation to serve the most relevant content to each customer,” Tully says.

“As technology and trends are changing so quickly, we work in an agile framework which is best suited to the demands of being a fast paced global retailer,” Tully continues “Our ambition though is to always be a customer centric business and connect with our community online, in store and via our party at home channel in a consistent manner.”

The Body Shop is also acutely aware of the challenges ahead. “It goes without saying that we (like many businesses) are keeping an eye on Amazon,” Tully tells us. “We expect to see them continue to grow their impact on the Australian retail landscape over the next few years.”

Sustainability is also a challenge for online retailers, and one that The Body Shop is very aware of. “Businesses need to be more and more mindful of the environment and reducing their waste,” Tully says. “This could mean shifting to recycled or recyclable paper for online order packing and avoiding plastic materials such as bubble wrap. We expect this trend to continue to be a key focus for both consumers and business alike as more customers become increasingly aware of waste reduction and single use materials.”

For more from Power Retail’s Top 100, check out the ‘2019 E-Commerce Leaders Playbook’, which is available in both hard copy and digital formatshere! 

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