Buying online and picking up in-store are now ‘table stakes’ as brands build omnichannel capabilities

More than two years into the pandemic, beauty brands are continuing to expand their DTC sites and omnichannel capabilities, according to a new report.

After invest more in their DTC site capabilities when the pandemic hit, brands are increasing their adoption of site features such as online shopping, in-store pickup, guided selling tools and search sophistication, according to the Omnichannel report Retail Index​ 2022 published this month by e-commerce technology company OSF. The report studied DTC sites for a range of brands and retailers across all categories, including Lush Cosmetics, Ulta Beauty, Sephora, Clinique and Kiehl’s.

Currently, 84% of brands across all categories offer BOPIS on their DTC sites, a number that has “increased significantly” and become “table stakes” due to the pandemic, according to the report. This is a dramatic increase in just a few years. In 2016, only 33% of companies had this option.

Lush Cosmetics, for example, offers BOPIS on its checkout page. Customers can order same-day delivery through Doordash directly through the brand’s DTC checkout. The feature has become essential on brand sites.

“Meeting the customer where and how they want to shop has always been a priority at Lush. We gave consumers the choice to buy online and collect in store before Covid, and that has certainly become a core feature as consumers value the convenience of finding and buying what they need online and pick it up when it fits their schedule,” said Wendy Kubota, Brand Manager of Lush Cosmetics North America.

Adoption of curbside pickup, which has exploded during the pandemic, is now offered by 62% of brands and retailers surveyed. Additionally, 96% of brands allow shoppers to return items in-store. Inside physical stores, 46% of brands and merchants now have a space dedicated to picking up online orders.

Overall, beauty took longer to adopt omnichannel capabilities than some other retail categories. According to the report, beauty ranks 8th out of 14 for overall adoption of best practices, with an overall score of 60%. Office and electronics was the best performing category at 70%, while department stores came in second at 66%.

But some omnichannel features have yet to be widely adopted by beauty brands. The ability to combine in-store pickup and home delivery items in the same order is available on 29% of beauty sites surveyed. This is less than the other categories; of all the brands studied in the report, 57% offer this option. Searching by nearby store physical inventory is also only available for 29% of beauty businesses.

“Even before the pandemic, shoppers expected retailers to carry BOPIS, and today that’s even truer. But BOPIS’ offer should not be limited to the transaction, but [rather about] the whole experience: how you communicate, provide customer service and sell, in order to delight the customer and build brand loyalty,” said Gerard Szatvanyi, CEO of OSF.

With 53% of American adults saying they feel comfortable Entering physical stores in 2022, brands are bolstering mobile omnichannel capabilities, including providing the ability to locate the nearest store and view inventory via mobile.

“While omnichannel capabilities like inventory visibility and endless aisles still don’t have high adoption, customers are still looking for and expecting these features,” Szatvanyi said.

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