Retail strategies: How going beyond e-commerce builds customer loyalty

Retailers and consumer brands that focus exclusively on driving online sales through e-commerce platforms are missing a big opportunity to boost their brand identity and build customer loyalty.

So says John Perasco, AVP of digital at Urban Decay, a fast-growing cosmetics brand based in Newport Beach, Calif., during a recent interview with Caroline Baldwin, editor of Essential Ecommerce:

"It's so easy to fall into the trap of a brand's website being a store and only a delivery system for products. But we see ourselves as authorities in the beauty space, people come to us to understand where we see trends going in beauty and that's important to a luxury brand like Urban Decay."

Like many brands in the retail sector, Urban Decay already has a successful e-commerce site up and running based on Demandware. But the challenge facing Urban Decay was that its e-commerce platform was not well-suited to supporting a global content marketing strategy. Rather than look for an all-in-one suite, Urban Decay opted to integrate the FirstSpirit CMS with Demandware. The result is the newly launched “UD All Access” site that effectively double the size of the company’s website.

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Retail cosmetics brand Urban Decay is using FirstSpirit integrated with Demandware as the foundation for a global content marketing and brand building strategy. (Photo Credit: @chainstoreage.com)

By creating a Corporate Content Cloud based on FirstSpirit, Urban Decay now has a powerful mechanism for extending it brand in ways that simple aren’t possible with e-commerce alone. As reported in Chain Store Age, Urban Decay plans a rich and diverse content strategy to drive its connection to customers.

“We have the commerce side and that’s going strong. Now we’re building out the content side and making a visually relevant, beautiful, and interesting Urban Decay-branded portion of our site. It’s like whispering to our best beauty junkies to come take a peek behind the curtain and come back stage with us. People come to urbandecay.com looking for that brand voice, what we have to say, what’s new, what’s trending. They are looking for all kinds of content whether it’s editorial content, videos, product information or other users’ content.”

One of the key advantages of going the best-of-breed route to support an expanded digital content strategy for retailers is brand consistency. Here’s how Perasco explained it to Essential Retail:

"Urban Decay has been extremely e-commerce focused, but the new CMS will give us a way to manage content to ensure the heart, soul and DNA of Urban Decay is maintained as we roll out and expand. The CMS is taking what we're already doing and consolidating and enhancing the site. We're ensuring we're speaking to our customers in the Urban Decay voice and sharing our visions with her – that's more important than the (ROI) dollars."

Another significant advantage of moving to a CMS for a brand or retailer is the ability to pull together followers who can get scattered all the web and social media channels, as Deanna Ultroske writes in Cosmetics Design about Urban Decay’s adoption of FirstSpirit. She quotes Perasco as saying:

“We have lots of vocal interaction on Instagram and Facebook, which is great, but it’s happening off site. We’re trying to bring some of that back to our site so we can consolidate and curate some of the excitement.”

So, to summarize, there are a number of valuable takeaways from what Urban Decay is doing with FirstSpirit that apply to nearly all retailers and brands

  • Integration with FirstSpirit enables e-commerce platforms such as Demandware, hybris or IBM Smarter Commerce to support a global content marketing strategy.
  • Adding a CMS to the mix makes it easy to maintain brand consistency as the brand evolves, or expands globally.
  • A CMS along with a robust content strategy enable a retailer to consolidate and more directly influence social channels and conversations from across the web.