The beauty and wellness industry ranked among the top three industries for website performance in 2019, moving to the top spot in 2020. The sector owed some success to streamlining the online purchasing process, such as adding digital wallet acceptance. Still, making it easier — and likelier — for consumers to make a purchase involves a lot more than just the checkout screen. On-page product recommendations and live site help have also played an important role in reducing friction, as have features such as free shipping.
As a result, the beauty and wellness industry was already well-positioned when the digital transformation accelerated following the pandemic’s onset in early 2020. Social distancing forced businesses to make contactless payment options the norm, and customers came to expect online shopping to offer the same level of service as brick-and-mortar stores. Physical and digital channels have increasingly converged, blurring the lines between traditional and digital commerce.
This month, PYMNTS Intelligence examines how the beauty and wellness industry is deploying payment solutions and eliminating friction to create a smoother customer journey.
The Changing Face of Payments in the Beauty and Wellness Sector
Before the pandemic, the biggest concerns for both merchants and consumers when dealing with payments were security, convenience and speed. The pandemic added health and safety to that equation. Consumers became less interested in paying with cash and even had misgivings about handling payment cards and using PIN pads. Contactless payment, whether by tapping a card at the point of sale (POS) or through the consumer’s mobile device, gained much attention, aided by moves at the government and banking levels that encouraged contactless use.
Now that merchants and consumers have made the transition to contactless payments, inertia is on the side of contactless — but so are familiarity and convenience. , demand for contactless payment methods is thus not merely tied to pandemic concerns but is likely to grow independently.
Salons have been keen to take advantage of this transition, particularly to mobile devices, as it essentially places not just a POS into the consumer’s hands but also an advertising platform. Salon software has enabled businesses to streamline their communications with customers, creating more efficient scheduling interactions while also granting opportunities to upsell to their clientele.
Capturing Online Shoppers and Keeping Them
Software plays an even more obvious role in online shopping, and consumers show a strong preference for stocking up on health and beauty products online. Twelve percent of consumers surveyed at the end of 2021 said they were buying health and beauty products online more than they did in 2020.
Beauty and wellness retailers looking to capture those online customers must be able to offer a variety of payment options. Thirteen percent of surveyed consumers said the availability of payment methods was a deciding factor in whether they would switch to a different merchant. Therefore, having reliable software that can provide consumers with the payment options they need is essential.
Taking the Friction Out of Online Shopping
Beauty and wellness retailers could get every step of the online checkout process perfect and still miss opportunities to encourage customers to purchase or increase basket sizes. This is because multiple potential friction points exist along the online consumer journey. To address these, many businesses have added features to their online shopping that are inspired by physical store experiences. Buying beauty and wellness products is a very personal shopping experience, and on-page recommendations and live assistance can help add the personalized touch offered by sales staff in physical stores.
Retailers may also offer subscription plans to secure long-term relationships with those customers, and they have been working to make the subscription process easier and more customer-friendly. Pause features, refund policies and free shipping have all become increasingly common in online subscriptions, all of which have been shown to improve subscribers’ experiences. The beauty and wellness segment is still one of the most friction-laden for subscriptions, however, and thus offers retailers significant opportunities to stand out from the competition.
The beauty and wellness space has undergone some of the most significant changes due to the pandemic but also has achieved some of the greatest successes in adapting. As these businesses seek to attract and retain customers, they will be challenged to stay at the forefront of what technology can do.