- Velour Lashes quickly outgrew its first few ecommerce platforms due to performance issues, maintenance costs, and rapid growth
- Since replatforming with Shopify Plus in 2017, Velour Lashes' mobile site performance has increased & bounce rates decreased 30%
- After testing Shopify’s ecommerce automation tools (Launchpad & Scripts) last holiday season, Velour Lashes’ AOVs increased 12% YoY
When a rumor starts spreading that Beyoncé buys your luxury eyelash products “by the ton,” you know your business growth is about to explode …
A year before that serendipitous event, Mabel Lee, founder & CEO of Velour Lashes, was in university studying finance. When she wasn’t hitting the books or living it up as a student, she was shopping around for new products to feed her false lash addiction.
“Lashes were truly like my lipstick or foundation for most women. It was the one thing that I needed to wear every day because it really opened up my eyes, and especially being Asian, lashes made a huge difference,” she says.
By the end of a 12-hour school day, Mabel wanted to rip off her false lashes because they were so uncomfortable. “The only thing that was available to me at the time was drugstore lashes. They were cheap and they honestly didn't even look that good,” explains Mabel.
She and her friend, Angela Tran — who is now Velour’s co-founder — lamented one day that there wasn’t a better, more comfortable product on the market.
And so, the hunt for the most natural materials began. Through a lot of research, they learned that mink was the softest and closest to real hair or real lashes.
They then cooked up a total of 11 prototypes in the kitchen, using 100% ethically sourced and cruelty-free materials, that they wore themselves out on the town. That’s when a schoolmate suggested: “Why don’t you just package these up and try to sell them online, especially given the growth of ecommerce right now?” Mabel recalls.
Not realizing it at the time, Velour Lashes was going to fill a huge void in the marketplace — one where luxury brands had never ventured before …
Queen Bey Gives Velour Lashes Its Big Break
After perfecting their product, Mabel and her team caught a big break at a cosmetics trade show in New York. In attendance at that life-changing event were high-profile beauty industry insiders, like celebrity makeup artists.
“We actually sold out at that show the first time around, because it was such an innovative product,” explains Mabel. “It was also priced very competitive, but very different than your conventional lashes.”
Before Velour Lashes launched, disposable drugstore lashes were really all that was available in the marketplace and could be bought for as low as $6. Velour Lashes are priced at $50 which the company can justify because you can wear a pair up to 25 times.
The high demand and quality of the product generated a lot of buzz at the tradeshow — so much so that Mabel and her team unknowingly sold a pair to Beyoncé’s makeup artist.
“I didn’t even know I met her because I was so new to the business,” says Mabel. “But, a few months down the road from that show, we got blasted on social media. Everyone was like, ‘What’s Velour? Oh my god, I have to buy these lashes. Beyoncé wears Velour? What is this?’”
Mabel did a quick Google search and discovered an article stating that Beyoncé buys Velour Lashes by the ton.
I know it won’t be a shock to learn that Velour’s business really picked up after that article was published.
“Our social media blew up. A ton of celebrity makeup artists then reached out to us to work with us. Yet, we still tried to ride it out for about a year without leaving school or without quitting my day job to pay for school,” says Mabel.
But she soon had to make a decision as Velour Lashes’ sales were skyrocketing. “I figured that if we’re currently putting 20% effort into Velour and it’s growing the way it’s growing, I can’t imagine what it'd be like in a few years if we put in 100%,” Mabel recalls.
So, she and her business partner took a leap of faith to go all-in on growing the business.
Because of their early success and brand notoriety, Sephora reached out to them a year later to be its partner in building out the luxury lash market which had never existed before. And the Velour Lashes business has continued its meteoric rise ever since.
Of course, no ecommerce business achieves rapid growth without a few speed bumps along the way …
Growing with the Right Ecommerce Platform
The very first Velour Lashes ecommerce store existed as an Etsy Shop. “It wasn't anything fancy, everything was essentially homemade,” says Mabel.
The team quickly realized they had to move over to something bigger to grow the business, so they enlisted a freelancer who built everything on WordPress.
“Honestly, the functionality was so limited and we relied so heavily on him to make any changes,” says Mabel. “And for me, it was more of a risk to the business overall because if something God forbid ever happened to it, I would have no access to the website.”
Velour Lashes then hired another developer friend who owned a fulfillment center that fulfilled all of Velour’s products.
Although he was an incredible web developer, they eventually outgrew that platform as well. “We still relied on him to do any customization on the website,” says Mabel. “So, we if wanted to do a really cool sale, for example, and upload it onto the homepage, we needed him which I wasn’t comfortable with since our website was our main stream of revenue back then.”
Eventually, the Velour Lashes team decided to make the investment in an easy-to-use platform like Shopify Plus. At the same time, they decided to rebrand the entire website for the relaunch in June 2017 on the new SaaS platform.
They even have a press page that shows which lashes Beyonce and other celebrities wear.
“Since switching to Shopify, we’ve seen our site performance increase across the board,” says Caitlin Copetti, Marketing Manager at Velour Lashes.
Velour’s site bounce rate has especially decreased. The company was seeing a ton of traffic leave the site before getting on to Shopify — with a ~40% bounce rate in Feb 2017.
On Shopify Plus, Velour Lashes captures most of its traffic and now only has a 12% bounce rate.
Caitlin adds …
We are also seeing a lot more traffic on mobile than on desktop, and this includes conversions as well. Our focus more and more is mobile-first in terms of UX and site design.
She loves that the Shopify checkout experience is fast and easy resulting in:
- Conversion rate increase from 1.96% in 2017 to 2.02% presently
- AOVs have increased from $53.55 in 2017 to $60.68 presently
“We have been able to implement many upselling push points on our site which would have been a significant undertaking on the old site,” says Caitlin.
Velour Lashes now uses Loyalty Lion, Recharge and other Shopify apps that make the customer experience more seamless and are so simple to use that the team can take many of these programs functions in-house, instead of having to rely on a professional developer to update or configure it for them.
The luxury lash brand has also begun experimenting with the Shopify Plus trifecta of ecommerce automation tools — including Shopify Flow, Launchpad, and Scripts — to streamline workflows and promotional tasks, especially around the busy holiday shopping season.
Automating Their Way to a Stress-Free & Successful Holiday Sales Season
Last year, Velour Lashes worked with its agency, Fuel Made (which designed and launched the company’s first Shopify Plus site) to develop a “12 Days of Christmas” campaign — driving sales during the busy holiday season.
In the past, a huge campaign like that would be an overwhelming project because:
- An agency or client team member would have to turn on each of the 12 daily campaigns at midnight
- Setting up a 12-day campaign manually could take up to 30 hours to develop and test, plus up to five hours to build each sales event
Using Launchpad — a free ecommerce automation tool for Shopify Plus merchants that makes it easy to schedule, execute and monitor events such as sales, product releases, inventory restocks, and content changes — Fuel Made easily pre-scheduled each of the 12 sales events and themes to:
- Unpublish the previous day’s even and automatically update with the next
- Publish a script from the Shopify Script Editor app (when required)
- Publish a discount code (when required)
“Creating and pre-scheduling all of the themes ahead of time to be published via Launchpad saves us a lot of time, stress, and setup costs. The themes for each event can also be reviewed by the client before the day’s sale launches to ensure everything looks and functions as it should,” says Rick Murt, Web Developer at Fuel Made.
In 2017, Fuel Made did the theme set-up and pre-scheduling work, but Velour Lashes’ team went into Launchpad to preview and modify the promotional text for sales events themselves:
This year, Velour’s team will re-purpose the best of the themes from 2017 and pre-schedule sales events on their own because Launchpad is so easy to use.
Integrating Launchpad Themes with Shopify Scripts
The Launchpad 12 Days of Christmas themes were integrated with Shopify Scripts to customize sales events, like BOGOs:
Scripts also helped to verify the minimum orders in a customers’ cart to ensure that they qualified for a free gift with purchase. For example, on Day 10 Velour Lashes offered a Free Tripack with a $75 purchase using the discount code “TRIPACK75.”
The Velour team measures their success using custom Scripts and a Launchpad dashboard. These tools help them monitor real-time transactions while the theme is live — allowing them to create custom limitations or exclusions during the sale.
“Especially during the holiday season, we rely on Launchpad and Scripts to make our sales run smoothly and transition from one to the next,” says Caitlin. “Taking the manual part out of publishing a sale makes it easier for the team to focus on testing and optimizing.”
Testing Shopify Flow in 2018
Velour Lashes plans to streamline backend workflows using Shopify Flow for the 2018 holiday season. One of the 12 days’ sales events last year involved an offer to double loyalty points through Loyalty Lion, which had to be manually added via the admin when an order was created.
Since Loyalty Lion now has Flow triggers and actions, Velour Lashes can create a workflow, like the one below, which enables the points to be added automatically if a discount code like “DOUBLEPOINTS” is used:
Keeping Their Voluminous Eyes on the Enterprise
Using Shopify’s ecommerce automation tools like Launchpad, Scripts, and Flow enables the Velour Lashes team to re-allocate their valuable time to focus on maximizing sales during the 2018 online holiday shopping season and beyond.
“The majority of our site traffic happens outside of regular working hours, and a lot of our customers are on the West coast, so in order to optimize our promotional launches to align with our site traffic, using Launchpad is essential,” explains Mabel. “This way, we can launch promotions or new products when our traffic is at its peak.”
With A-list celebrity endorsements and multi-channel partnerships with the likes of Sephora in her team’s corner, it looks like she made the right choice to quit school and her day job in finance to follow her passion.
And with a wedding in the works for the successful luxury beauty entrepreneur, we wish Mabel the very best in the future.