7 beauty ecommerce trends to keep an eye on in 2021 and beyond

7 beauty ecommerce trends to keep an eye on in 2021 and beyond

The beauty world is an industry almost uniquely powered by novelty and fresh ideas. Whilst novelty can bring exciting hype to your business, it also feeds customer’s almost insatiable need for new products. With brands releasing new products almost weekly to meet this demand, it can leave customers overwhelmed, and ironically, lead to less sales. So how do you help your customer find the products that they need whilst standing out in this overly saturated market?

Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of the value-driven trends that will help your brand leave a lasting impression on customers, resulting in higher customer retention and ensuring that your brand lives up to the hype.


#1 Virtual try on / VR

There are few aspects of our lives that have remained untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic. Customer’s needs have shifted over the last 18 months and a drastic reduction in spending habits has forced businesses to adapt their strategies. 

In ‘normal times’, testing and trying on beauty products is at the heart of the customer’s shopping journey. How can this experience translate into a post-COVID world? 

Arguably, there is no direct comparable to the act of physically swatching a lipstick or colour matching a foundation, but that hasn’t prevented ecommerce legends Fenty Beauty and Cult Beauty from providing worthy alternatives. 

During the pandemic, Fenty Beauty partnered with Perfect Corp to integrate the  interactive app YouCam Makeup. The platform allows customers to virtually try on up to 100 SKUs using their own phone camera, creating a more cost effective, sanitary and mess free way to shop. 

Cult Beauty launched a similar platform. ‘MatchMe’, a foundation-matching AI experience, simply requires a selfie, and the user's skin type and foundation needs to produce the perfect shade match from thousands of foundation options. 

Not only does the app consider skin colour and skin type, but it takes into account environmental lightning, oxidization and product wear, to ensure the best fit. The accuracy is remarkable, with 75% of shoppers finding their perfect match and the remaining 25% wanting a shade lighter or darker than their ‘true’ tone.

As technology constantly evolves, the integration of virtual reality and ecommerce will only continue. For now, we know that virtual ‘try-on’ tools are only the tip of the beauty iceberg. 


#2 Subscriptions

Subscription services are taking over! From Netflix to Amazon to Hello Fresh, everything we could want in life is now available to us in the form of a subscription. The ongoing pandemic has only heightened our love for subscription services, with 82% of retailers believing the popularity of their subscription services increased during lockdown, according to Barclaycard Payments. 

You may be thinking how this is relevant to your brand, “we don’t sell subscription boxes” you protest! Luckily, any product can be transformed into a monthly subscription. 

By partnering your ecommerce site with an app like ReCharge, you have the power to link any SKU with a recurring shipment. The app generates a smooth post-purchase subscription management for your customers, completely hassle-free for all. Take Wild and their sustainable deodorants for example, they use ReCharge to power their monthly subscriptions in conjunction with their customer portal, which allows subscribers to change the scent of their deodorant. This gives customers the freedom to try and test new products without the hassle of cancelling and resubscribing. 

Brands like Zitsticka, Honest Beauty, and The Inkey List are taking their subscriptions one step further by offering a discount for customers who subscribe! 

This is a hassle free way to ensure customer retention. If you're considering offering a subscription service for your brand, make sure to read our Growth Guide for Subscription Brands.


#3 Transparency

The upheaval of COVID has encouraged many of us to engage more with the world around us and has given us time to question the products we are consuming. More so than ever, customers want to know exactly what is going into their products, where components are sourced from, and the impact their purchase is having on the world. 

You do not need to give away all of your trade secrets, but ensuring that valuable information is clearly and expertly presented on your website will help build customer trust and drive conversion.

A fantastic example of transparency is Paula’s Choice. The skincare brand has a dedicated ingredient hub located in the blog section of their website, and cites all their research under each product description page. This allows customers to partake in their own research should they wish, encouraging full transparency and trust. It is a brilliant way of showing that they have nothing to hide; they trust their products and their customers trust them too. 

Deviant Skincare offers similar transparency in the form of an information hub on their websites, detailing their sustainability initiatives covering every element of the business. As customers become more vocal about wanting to support sustainable and responsible businesses, similar transparency will help your brand stand out. 

Want to take it one step further? Pair these ideas together with an open FAQ section which will allow users to ask the questions that they are passionate about. 


#4 Inclusivity & Accessibility 

We cannot deny that inclusivity has always been a problem in the beauty industry. In recent years, demand for inclusive beauty collections and brands has been answered slowly but surely. In today’s beauty industry, if your brand fails to be inclusive you are unlikely to create long term success. Inclusivity is not a passing trend, it is a standard that should always be met. 

To be truly inclusive your brand must be truly accessible for all. You must consider how all aspiring consumers can access your products and join your brand community if you want to create sustainable success. 

Inclusivity and accessibility should be considered at every level of the business, from tone of voice to imagery to product development to packaging.

Ensuring that all users are able to access and engage with your website is a key component in creating an accessible and inclusive brand. By enabling accessibility adjustments on your website, you can create a customer journey that is practical for every user and one that will hopefully, lead to conversion.

An easy way to make these changes is with Accessibe, an automated solution which seamlessly integrates with your e-commerce site to allow users to customise their viewing experience. 

Another easy way to ensure your website is fully accessible, is to design with specific accessibility criteria in mind. When working with Underwaterpistol, our designers and developers will only propose designs that meet both accessibility standards and best design practises. 

We can all list a plethora of brands that have failed to be inclusive and accessible, instead, let’s take inspiration from those who have gotten it right: 

  • Fenty Beauty launched with 40 foundation and concealer shades
  • Pharell Williams ensures that all his products have braille on their packaging
  • Accessible is embedded into About Face and Topicals websites
  • Uoma Beauty has created 51 shades of foundation
  • Dragun Beauty is the first Trans-owned beauty brand
  • Kohl Kreatives creates products that support those with visual impairments

Not all of these brands tick every single box; some cover accessibility, some cover inclusivity. However, these small but important changes are worth celebrating, and worth taking inspiration from. 


#5 User generated content

User generated content has always been paramount with ecommerce, but in a post-COVID world, it’s becoming even more important to get right. Customer’s spending habits have reduced massively and brands now have to work harder to match customers to the right products. User generated content can help you do this. 

Written reviews can add trust to your product, but good visual content helps encourage customers to connect with your products, and hopefully, convert. 

Apps, such as YotPo and Pixlee, work to link Instagram images directly to your ecommerce site, pulling customers from your brand’s brilliant visual content directly to products! Take inspiration from Rare Beauty, who not only showcase user generated content on their homepage, but also celebrate their community by encouraging users to embrace their imperfections, authenticity, and self expression.

Read more about user generated content here.


#6 Personalisation

As customers are forced online due to the pandemic, the demand for in-store, personalised experiences online is growing. By offering personalisation on your ecommerce site, you can help recreate the lost experience of in-store shopping. 

Be inspired by The Inkey List, who launched their ‘Recipe Builder’ last summer, an online quiz which recommends a full morning and evening skincare routine based on customer answers. This ensures that the products customers purchase are tailored for their specific needs and wants, much like a store assistant would help do in ‘real’ life. 

Alternatively, consider bringing the power of Zoom to your ecommerce site. For example, Fenty Beauty launched free 20 minute shade-matching appointments which allow users to speak face-to-face with a representative to ensure a perfect product match. These methods help ensure that these brands continue to thrive in an online-only world. 


#7 Buy Now Pay Later

Long gone are the days of high APR store cards. Waves of companies are now installing the option for safer and smarter payment methods in the form of ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ schemes. In a report conducted by Opinium, it was stated that 45% of 18 to 34 year olds had used a ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ payment method in the last 12 months! What is a ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ scheme, you ask?

‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ schemes work exactly as you would expect. Customers can ‘purchase’ a product, receive the product, and then pay for it 30 days later. There truly isn’t a catch. Companies like Klarna, who are at the forefront of the ‘buy now, pay later’ movement, allow customers to spread the cost of purchases interest-free and without impacting their credit score.

In a post-COVID world, customers are increasingly apprehensive about spending money. Implementing a Pay Later app allows you to enhance the customer's experience by offering options that are convenient to them. Plus, you still get paid upfront and in full! A win all around.

What’s next?

Found this interesting? Want to know more? Get in touch today for an in-depth discussion of how we can serve your requirements for an effective ecommerce design, build and digital strategy project.