Moving through second quarter of 2013, online retail continues to show a strong growth of 16% year over year. This significantly outpaces total consumer spending which grew only 5%. According to comScore’s “State of Online Retail,” Health & Beauty is one of the verticals experiencing the strongest growth.
In September of 2013, we conducted a special SmartHub® Industry Benchmark study evaluating how retailers of health & beauty products perform across 81 data points. We included 30 retailers in our sample group, evaluating 3 order scenarios. This resulted in 48 orders.
Of the retailers in our sample, 80% specialize in the Health & Beauty vertical; this includes drugstores, cosmetics and other specialty beauty retailers. Beyond that, 17% of the sample is made up of mass merchants (such as discount providers and department stores), and the remaining 3% are categorized as Housewares / Home Improvement retailers.
The results of our Health & Beauty special study, as compared to our typical SmartHub® Order Events (which include retailers from all categories), reveal interesting differences in the following areas:
1. Speed to Delivery – Health & Beauty retailers are speedy. 70% of orders in our study were delivered within 3 days. For a standard Order Event, this number is 50% or less.
2. Shipping Charges – A majority of Health & Beauty retailers (57%) have free shipping. Historically, we see an average of 38% for the industry as a whole. The one notable exception was our 2012 Cyber Monday study in which 58% of orders had free shipping.
3. Order Packaging – The orders in our special Health & Beauty study:
- Were 25% more likely to include external branding
- Were twice as likely to be placed in an inappropriate sized box
- Were nearly twice as likely to include packing materials
- Had a different mix of package types
4. Free Returns – A majority of Health & Beauty retailers (55%) provided free returns. This is a stark contrast to the industry as a whole, where only 24% of orders had free returns.
Given that the areas highlighted above are of highest concern to consumers (as reported by the 2013 comScore Customer Experience Survey), one may conclude that retailers of Health & Beauty products have a heightened focus on the consumer experience.
In this report, we detail our findings, provide recommendations, and explore unique opportunities for Health & Beauty products (such as sample programs and subscription services).
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What’s Next? Our SmartHub® team conducts new studies every 6-8 weeks. Stay tuned for more reports on our findings and trends in the online retail ordering cycle including a special study of Holiday Promotions for 2013.