2020 has been called the lost year as the pandemic dramatically changed how consumers shop, interact and live their lives. The cosmetic industry was not spared from this economic hit as many businesses, both small and large saw massive layoffs, cutbacks and shuttered doors. Throughout it all, businesses discovered ways to survive in a “new normal” where customers couldn’t shop, employees couldn’t work and absolutely everything was driven online.

For the past ten years, Velour Beauty has been a recognizable force in the false lashes space, where the business grew as a retail-focused brand that focused on cruelty-free lashes. With growing public interest in cruelty-free cosmetics, Velour had a solid business model, so long as in-store shopping maintained a place in the cosmetics world. That changed in 2020.

With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cosmetics industry took a massive hit alongside the rest of the world as retailers shut down. During the struggle, Velour saw their primary customers, brick and mortar retailers, close their doors, without any signs as to when they might reopen. Something had to change, and it ended up being their core business focus.

The Need For A Big Change

Starting as an eCommerce brand in 2011, Velour grew its retail presence as direct to consumer became less of a focus for the business. Once 2020 hit, Velour had to dust off the direct-to-consumer focus to drive web traffic as everyone moved online. This meant a redesigned website that was more consumer-friendly, and an emphasis on converting visitors into sales, a revamped online shop and a larger focus on consumer experiences and data.

Integration was key during this transition. In the lightning-fast digital world, Velour needed to jump onto trends quickly, engage with visitors immediately and convert those visitors into buyers in a meaningful way. When it had a retail focus, an in-store experience filled this need with customers who had much longer attention spans than the online shopper. In the digital world seconds matter, and Velour needed the capacity to plug-in tools that made every second count.

The change was more than technical however, a new focus on customer experiences meant a larger focus on UX design and a mobile-first mentality to Velour’s entire online presence. The results paid off, and with constant development and improvement of a consumer-focused online presence, Velour began to right the ship with a new focus on the consumer.

Such a dramatic change was essential for Velour’s survival, but a new website and a renewed focus were not enough on an online market where big fish like Amazon ruled consumer attention. To grow, Velour needed new tools with which to swim.

New Customers Mean New Tools

The Velour website was last updated in 2017 and had a retail-first design that showcased products to interested customers and supports an in-store experience. With the transition to a direct-to-consumer model, a new website was needed that could make use of the latest tools and plugins to manage visitors, capture attention and ultimately convert sales.

While the website will continue to need updates and adaptations as it evolves, Velour’s upgrades ensured the website could integrate with a tool suite like HiConversion. The app allowed for a unique user experience in response to the customer’s shopping behaviors – in doing so, the recommendations on the site were catered to the way the customer was shopping, ultimately helping with conversion rates.

By adopting a tool like HiConversion, which came with options for marketing automation, machine learning and a strong emphasis on mobile commerce, Velour was able to compete in the busy online market and take the critical steps needed to survive the pandemic. Now, Velour can engage with each customer that visits their site, track trends, combat cart abandonment and engage with previous sales in real-time for hundreds of thousands of accounts and visitors.

Armed with new machine learning tools, Velour was able to reemerge as an online presence with a well-known brand, product and message; the perfect recipe for a new direct-to-consumer brand.

The New Normal

Now more than ever, direct to consumer is a key focus for Velour. Consumer shopping habits have changed after a year of isolation, virtual shopping, and an emphasis on convenience over experiences.

Mobile commerce has been trending even before the pandemic. For Velour, a focus on mobile commerce was important before the pandemic and is an essential arm of the business in the new normal. As more consumers go mobile, the 6-second attention spans of mobile shoppers will grow as an issue that online businesses need to face. As a result, artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to grow as a need for online businesses, especially in the cosmetic space, rather than just the competitive edge that it is now.

While brick and mortar locations are making a comeback as the world reopens, shopping behavior has changed during the past year. For product replenishment, for example, I believe the customer will now likely buy online or use a subscription service rather than go to stores. On the retailer side, more brands will be looking for lower risks and shorter-term commitments, and pop-up shops that provide a brand experience without the commitment of a multi-year contract will grow in popularity.

What’s Next In eCommerce

With the lasting growth in eCommerce and the massive surge in online users over the past year, more businesses will be looking for smart options to create customer experiences online. AI-powered platforms, when used correctly, will be a major advantage for brands that want to create unique engagement, user interfaces and relationships with their customers.

As there is a greater focus on technology and data-driven experiences, businesses will also want to think about how to apply the strengths of mobile to create new opportunities to engage with consumers. Velour has been exploring digital try-on as a potential tool for customers to have an online experience that would have been impossible in store.

For brands like Velour grow on e-commerce, the experience on our site will have to be comparable (if not better) than if the customer were to go shop in stores.

About the Author: Mabel Lee founded Velour Beauty in 2011 and provides high-quality, reusable lashes with and emphasis on quality, comfort and sustainability. In 2021, Velour expanded on this commitment by going 100% mink free in 2021. With an emphasis on vegan friendly lashes Velour continues to be a leader in the false eyelash and cosmetics industry.