Consumers’ buying habits increasingly favor digital platforms, whether it’s receiving discount codes through social media or purchasing directly through their favorite brand’s website. The savviest retailers know that feeding that migration with better digital engagement strategies and a streamlined buying experience is essential to success.
International cosmetics and beauty product manufacturer and retailer L’Occitane en Provence, headquartered in Paris, is at the forefront of the digital revolution. After boosting its digital presence and removing friction from the customer buying experience, the long-established luxury brand has the keys to building a better online user experience.
Know what you want to achieve
As part of an initiative to continuously improve the company’s website, L’Occitane sought out a user-experience analytics solution that could carry it into the future.
“We had a lot of functionalities to add for our consumers,” says Anne Lesueur, international ecommerce and media director for the company. Knowing there was room for improvement in its existing digital presence from a UX standpoint, she says, “We also wanted solutions that could complement more classic tools we were already using, such as Google Analytics.”
Seeking more detailed insights into potential opportunities to reduce friction and improve the user experience, the L’Occitane team partnered with ContentSquare to optimize its customer experience.
Retailers often have struggled to adapt to the shifting landscape between declining bricks-and-mortar traffic and burgeoning digital transactions. It can be a difficult adjustment, especially for long-established companies.
“Many retailers aren’t digital natives,” says Efrat Ravid, chief of marketing and strategy for ContentSquare. Much of it comes down to knowing customers well enough to deliver the same brand experience online as shoppers have come to know in-store.
Making that shift means retailers “need to move the needle for the customers so they’ll go there and actually purchase,” Ravid says. Everything from product placement to abandon rates needs to be considered and carefully structured if a business wants to make the jump into digital.
Find a platform you can use
The relationship between L’Occitane and ContentSquare started several years ago, with ContentSquare offering the retailer some early UX recommendations. “We were not using the tool in self-service mode, but they were providing us with analytics support to leverage that tool,” Lesueur says.
With its online presence becoming more important over time and shoppers’ preferences continuing to shift toward digital, she says, “Seeing the relevancy of the analytics, we decided we wanted to have the tools in-house.”
The team also recognized the importance of maintaining internal visibility into the results of various initiatives. After implementing guest checkout in the United States, for example, they wanted to be able to track what it was providing compared with the classic checkout.
Though technology is playing a more prominent role at many retailers, making the best use of it can be difficult. In some instances, organizations may never realize the full benefits of the solutions they deploy. Getting disparate disciplines such as web designers and marketing analytics teams to work together takes more than simply making technology tools available.
“You can get all the information you want, but it takes a lot of time, and only an expert can do it,” Ravid says of many of the offerings in the UX sector today. In contrast, ContentSquare designed its solution to eliminate the complexity often found in other platforms.
“Our tool makes it accessible,” she says. Describing the ContentSquare approach as “smarted down,” Ravid says anyone who needs to pull data out of the system will find it accessible and understandable.
“Everyone on the digital team can now see the value they provide,” Ravid says.
Have a plan to manage change
With L’Occitane’s past experience working with ContentSquare, Lesueur says the platform’s implementation in the spring of 2016 was straightforward. “We did it with our analytics agency, and it was very smooth, quite fast,” she says.
An effective change-management plan was a vital component of adapting to the new system. “It was having people learn to use the tool and dedicate time for it,” Lesueur says.
Folding the ContentSquare platform into existing workflows proved to be one of the more challenging aspects of the deployment; Lesueur recommends that companies be very intentional in their UX system implementations.
Bringing together a mixture of UX experts, members of the analytics team and business-side representatives will help maximize the benefits an organization will ultimately reap. “It’s a habit in the long term, but in the beginning, make sure you have resources to make the most out of it,” Lesueur says.
“We really had a challenge to make our sites user experience-friendly on mobile. ContentSquare enabled us to run relevant analytics on the website to change the UX of our mobile sites.”
— Anne Lesueur, L’Occitane en Provence
“It’s not a tool you can have for the sake of having it,” she says. “You really need to use it.”
Ravid says it’s important that all the right teams have access to information coming out of the UX platform. “We call it ‘user experience for the people,’” she says. “You need to make the information accessible and not have only skewed data or only make data available to your analysts.”
Before any implementation steps are taken, she recommends identifying who will use the information coming out of the UX optimization system and how frequently they’ll need to access it. “They need to think about who is going to use it and how,” she says.
Measure your results
Managing the user experience across a global footprint has given L’Occitane insight into the value of UX platforms. “We are working in some countries with very advanced mobile environments,” Lesueur says, citing markets such as Japan and its reputation as an early adopter of new technology.
“We really had a challenge to make our sites UX-friendly on mobile,” she says. “ContentSquare enabled us to run relevant analytics on the website to change the UX of our mobile sites.” It wasn’t just internationally where those modifications returned significant results. “They made a real impact when it came to conversion rates in the U.S., where we saw a 25 percent increase in mobile conversions,” Lesueur says.
It’s vital that retailers focus on the details as they work to boost their user experience. “You can see that small improvements in UX can make a massive business difference,” Lesueur says.
Continuously measuring results will help the team manage that level of granularity without losing sight of broader goals. For the group at L’Occitane, improving UX is at the center of their strategy, and they are continually looking to develop new systems for customers, notably for mobile sites.
“We were looking at key pages on mobile to make sure we were focusing on that,” Lesueur says. “Typically, that’s the kind of thing where you can get lost if you’re not focused.”
Keep your eye on the future
L’Occitane has created a lot of momentum behind the ContentSquare tool after seeing it in action. “Our people are really excited because of how it makes a difference,” Lesueur says. Additional internal team members are already being trained so more users can benefit from it, with the intention that other regions experiencing website challenges will soon be able to leverage the platform to improve their own online experiences.
The company is also going through a redesign, Lesueur says. Once that process is complete, she says, the team plans to continue moving forward by using ContentSquare to “run different analytics to see where we can improve our conversion rates.”
Julie Knudson is a freelance business writer who focuses on retail, hospitality and technology.