After 13 years in business, the hair care brand Amika, which can be found mainly in trade shows and Sephora, was ready to invest in its website.
The brand already had a live chat feature on its website, but it was mainly used to allow customers to ask questions about an order. It lacked a sense of personalization and the ability to offer product recommendations, so Amika added chatbot functionality to the customer shopping experience to collect more customer data and drive online sales. As retail stores remain closed or have had to close (as they do with Los Angeles stores), replication of the in-store discovery experience has become the key to the success of the direct-to-consumer channel. of the brand.
“The live chat was more customer service oriented [post-sale] that it was a sales or promotional opportunity, ”said Robbi Webb, Senior Director of Ecommerce at Amika. “[For example] when we speak directly to a customer, or even when they are on our website, we often don’t know what their motivation is for shopping with us. We are still a small business and still growing; [we] don’t have hundreds of millions of dollars in technology investment. “
Amika started working with chatbot marketing company Automat in January, which enabled the brand to offer customers personalized 24/7 shopping opportunities. The bot, called Ace, is accessible in several places on the e-commerce site, notably in the lower right corner of the home page and in a photo banner at the top of all pages. Ace asks customers around 15 questions about their hair type, products they are looking for, and hair goals, while also offering the option to sign up for Amika’s newsletter to receive a 15% coupon. After customers complete the questionnaire, Ace recommends between two and five products.
“This conversational technology has almost always been used to [replacing human] customer service, which most people don’t like, ”said Andy Mauro, CEO and co-founder of Automat. “But for someone on their buying journey, a chatbot offers them something they never expected.”
Within the beauty industry, the appearance of the coronavirus in March quickly exposed brands that had not invested in their own e-commerce. Brands like Dior quickly added virtual reality to its e-commerce in April, while MAC Cosmetics added augmented reality in May. In many ways, prioritizing in-store experiences over the past five years has meant that any investment in digital e-commerce has to complement stores rather than compete with them. But beauty brands with richer digital experiences that can match the in-store experience (or those that are DTC-only, in the case of brands like Glossier and Il Makiage) have done better. Long-term, industry insiders predict an omnichannel shift, with e-commerce becoming a more important priority.
Webb said the quiz had a 57% response rate and since Amika doesn’t have any other survey tools on her website, she gets valuable insight into what current and new customers are looking for and of their needs. Amika uses this information for ad targeting and email capture, and then for personalized email marketing. Over 22,000 people took the quiz, representing approximately 15% of Amika’s web traffic. The average percentage of web traffic that engages with a brand’s chatbot was around 3% before the coronavirus and 6% in the midst of the coronavirus, Mauro said. Webb declined to say what percentage of Amika’s revenue is DTC compared to retail and salons. Mauro explained that Automat prices its technology based on increased sales and that the price is locked in after a three-month trial period.
Thanks to the chatbot, Amika saw sales conversion rates increase, on average, by 300%, but the conversion rate jumped to 800% when Amika hosted a flash sale in May. Additionally, quiz participants spend at least four times as long on the e-commerce site, and the average cart size of these customers is at least 70% larger than that of non-participants, although Webb declined to specify further. The chatbot did not impact cart abandonment, she said.
Going forward, Webb said that Amika is looking to create a personalized landing page by the end of August that focuses on chat specifically for customers who come to Amika through search, paid ads and unpaid social publications. This will allow Amika to collect information about customers up front rather than waiting for them to search for the Ace chatbot, Webb said.