Before we show you how L’Occitane — a natural beauty and skincare products brand from the South of France with a global footprint — is capitalizing on multi-channel social selling and significantly lifting conversion rates, you should know L’Occitane moves fast.
With just a few weeks until Mother’s Day 2017, L’Occitane was determined to experiment in a way many 40-year-old brands don’t. The company wanted to offer a Mother’s Day gift collection exclusively on Facebook and allow customers to check out right inside the social media platform’s application.
“L’Occitane decided to explore social selling as it is a channel that isn't being highly leveraged by our competitors and is seeing increased traction.”
“Consumers are adept at using social as a channel to explore and engage with brands, the next progression would be to purchase from them as well.”
Serena Kolber, L’Occitane’s Sr. Director of Digital Acquisition & Brand Media
But L’Occitane had never sold directly or fulfilled on Facebook before. With Mother’s Day around the corner, it was a tight timeframe to figure it all out.
But the company’s digital marketing agency, VaynerMedia, co-founded by serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, saw Shopify Plus as the best, most efficient multi-channel platform for L’Occitane's Mother's Day in-app social shop test.
“Given the urgency of this Mother's Day exclusive offer from L'Occitane,” Sabir Semerkant, SVP of eCommerce at VaynerMedia, “our team decided that Shopify Plus was the right platform to execute on this timeline and we are glad that we did.”
The gang at VaynerMedia were spot on, but one major problem stood in the way: L’Occitane was not a Shopify Plus customer.
White Glove Treatment … for Non-Customers?
It normally takes 90-120 days to get a brand up and running on Plus…
Longer if the launch or migration is ultra-complex with ERP integrations, radical Shopify customizations, building an Amazon Prime-like loyalty program, or using the Shopify API to build something from scratch that never before existed.
L’Occitane was dipping its toes into the social selling waters with just 42 days before the Mother’s Day deadline.
After weighing all of the options for commerce on social platforms, VaynerMedia selected Shopify Plus as the most strategic option. Normally, that’d mean modifying timelines in order to deliver and launch the promotion in time for Mother’s Day.
Enter Nina Sijakov, a Shopify Plus Launch Manager with expertise in complicated migrations and launches.
“They weren’t a Plus customer and were on an inflexible deadline. But I was asked whether I’d be open to giving L’Occitane Shopify Plus level service and white glove support. I love a challenge and told them I was all in.”
Nina Sijakov, Shopify Plus Launch Engineer
L’Occitane needed a turnkey social selling solution and it needed it fast.
With Mother’s Day selling period quickly approaching L’Occitane would need to:
- Establish a Facebook sales channel
- Enable the appropriate payment gateways so shoppers could checkout on Facebook rather than being redirected to the L’Occitane website
- Connect the new channel with the L’Occitane warehouse so Facebook orders could be fulfilled with the accuracy and expediency customers expect
Danielle Williams, L’Occitane Social Media & Community Manager, explains:
“Our experience setting up Shopify was great. Although we ran into a few hiccups here and there, the overall integration with Facebook was relatively simple, and we were able to begin selling within two weeks after beginning implementation.”
Social selling has certainly shortened the path to purchase for other well-known merchants, but wouldn’t selling on Facebook cannibalize sales on L’Occitane’s ecommerce site?
Interested in launching your own multi-channel strategy?
Shopify Plus lets you sell everywhere your customers buy. Up to 22 sales channels … all without plugins or custom development.
Exclusivity Drives Social Sales
It’s what you might call the dark side of multi-channel selling…
Retailers without an intelligent strategy may often cannibalize store sales when adding new sales channels like Facebook. However, the team at VaynerMedia knew exactly how to capitalize on a new channel for L'Occitane. Says Semerkant:
“Consumers crave exclusivity. Offering an exclusive product or collection on Facebook that couldn’t be purchased on the L’Occitane site positioned the brand to offer something unique and reward customers for engaging with the brand on Facebook.”
Instead of offering the entire product catalog, L’Occitane offered an exclusive Mother’s Day collection of beauty products on Facebook for a limited time only. Besides injecting scarcity into the customer journey, doing so also enabled the brand to give shoppers a persuasive reason to check back with the company’s Facebook store in the future for other exclusive offerings.
“The reason we chose Shopify Plus is because of its seamless integration with Facebook. It’s easy to add channels and we never have to worry about Shopify going down no matter how much traffic we drive. It’s a dynamically flexible platform and ready to go right out of the box.”
Sabir Semerkant, SVP of eCommerce at VaynerMedia
A robust platform is one thing, but setting it up, integrating it with a brand’s fulfillment, and testing it to make sure it operates flawlessly is another — especially with Mother’s Day just days away.
It’s why Shopify Plus assigns each new merchant a Launch Engineer whose sole purpose is to ensure merchants launch as quickly and successfully as possible.
“Working with Nina was extremely helpful,” says Danielle Williams. “As integrating Shopify and Facebook involves working through the Facebook platform as well as Shopify, Nina and the team at Shopify were able to be the bridge in communications between us and Facebook to help address any questions we had or any items to troubleshoot.”
Launch Engineer Spotlight: Q&A
“It was a really quick turn around. We had the whole shop set up in a few weeks. It was great.”
Nina Sijakov, Shopify Plus Launch Engineer
Question: How do merchants with skilled partner agencies benefit from having a Plus launch manager?
“Even the best design and development agencies don’t know every inch of Shopify Plus. But the launch managers do. So we work directly with agencies to quickly turn a merchant’s wish list into reality.”
Question: How do launch managers help merchants make the right decisions for their individual businesses?
“Quite often the person who made the decision to launch on or replatform with Plus isn’t the same person responsible for getting the brand’s store up and running on Plus. So we’re there to educate, make product recommendations, and help the merchant make smart business decisions that help them make more money.”
Question: How about giving us an example?
“Sure. For example, we recently had a merchant who needed to schedule regular theme changes. This is a manual process that can take time and energy away from growing sales. So we recommended the merchant automate the process with Launchpad, a tool that allows merchants to schedule, coordinate, and execute major commerce events in advance.”
“We routinely help merchants discover solutions that position them to focus on what matters rather than the technology that makes their stores work.”
Question: What are your thoughts regarding VaynerMedia crediting you with helping L’Occitane launch so rapidly and enjoy success selling on Facebook?
“It feels great. We have so much merchant empathy and everything we do is to help them succeed quickly. We often hear from merchants who tell us they never would’ve solved a problem without our help and that it’s obvious we care a lot.”
“Hearing that type of feedback does make us happy.”
Social selling, according to VaynerMedia, is in its early stages. Consumers are still adapting to purchases via social platforms.
However, once customers become more comfortable making in-app purchases it’s certainly possible other merchants will follow L’Occitane’s lead.
The allure of social selling, in part, is engaging shoppers where they are and allowing them to checkout right there.
“We were able to cut out a click from the checkout process,” VaynerMedia’s Semerkant says. “We saw an increase in conversions throughout the campaign even after we stopped running paid media.”
To better understand customer purchasing behavior on Facebook, VaynerMedia started wide regarding its creative offering and audience targeting. Throughout the Mother’s Day campaign, L’Occitane & VaynerMedia adjusted its ad three times and optimized its audience targeting.
“Each iteration of the creative and audience targeting got better and conversions improved with each iteration,” William Galanko, ecommerce Strategist at VaynerMedia, explains. “By the end of the campaign, we had a high-converting creative offering we were showing to several audiences that were converting the best.”
Even more importantly, VaynerMedia learned a lot about L’Occitane’s customer purchasing behavior on Facebook. It’s insight the VaynerMedia plans to use during the upcoming holiday shopping season.
“Creating a seamless, shoppable experience that looks appealing within the Facebook field is key. It’s only the beginning for social commerce. We’re bullish on the future and definitely see a lot of promise in the Shopify Plus-Facebook integration.”