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Butter London proves gift-giving can be crowdsourced via mobile

RANCHO MIRAGE, CA – A butter London executive at the Mobile Shopping Summit 2015 claimed that the beauty marketer is driving sales by enabling customers to select a gift set, share it with friends via social media and collectively donate money to send the item to the recipient.

During the “Keynote: Reinventing The Customer Journey To Enable Differentiated Discovery, Consideration And Purchase Online And Offline” session, the executive highlighted the brand’s ongoing journey to digital commerce, which has included a mobile site and partnerships with major retailers such as Ulta Beauty, Sephora and Nordstrom. To make the shopping experience more interactive and useful for customers, butter London is bringing crowdsourced beauty products to the fray, a useful tool for friends who want to purchase one collective gift for someone.

“We need to intimately understand [the customer’s] shopping experience,” said Kacy Cole, former director of ecommerce and digital marketing at butter London, Seattle.

Coloring in commerce
Butter London pinpointed four key areas to focus on when bolstering its digital sales initiatives. Testament, trial, tutorial and transformation are all integral parts of shopping that the customer needs to mimic an in-store experience.

It sought to use mobile to create the feeling of browsing and trying on products with a trusted friend.

“There’s a whole validation process in cosmetics shopping that needs to happen,” Ms. Cole said.

A tutorial aspect is also useful for consumers who are seeking the type of expertise they would receive from an expert behind a beauty counter.

Testament can be achieved via social media and user-generated content, as many cosmetics fans enjoy swapping favorite shades and offering advice about trends. This also helps boost butter London’s profile among potential new customers.

The brand will also drive sales of its nail lacquers via a tool that allows mobile users to select a skin tone most similar to their own, and superimpose each shade onto a virtual photograph of a hand. This way, consumers can test out how the color may appear on their skin without having to ruin an existing manicure while shopping in-store.

This feature has been a strong selling point for butter London, attributing 15 to 30 percent of sales conversion.

“This has been hugely helpful for us in how people experience the lacquer,” Ms. Cole said.

Fellow cosmetics marketer Sally Hansen is also aiming to ramp up mobile commerce by introducing the ManiMatch application, which allows beauty enthusiasts to use a scanning feature to try on more than 200 nail polish shades before receiving personalized color suggestions and the option to purchase their favorites (see story).

Butter London fans can also take a personal quiz to get a prescription for healthy nails, a strategy that has seen sales of nail treatments skyrocket to become one of the top-selling products.

Crowdsourcing gift sets
Butter London’s collaboration with the Gift Starter tool has the ability to differentiate the brand from other marketers in the competitive sector. If a group of friends wish to purchase $100 worth of items for a person, a butter London user may pick the desired gift set and select the “GiftStart It” option to proceed.

That consumer can then share the GiftStart with friends or family via Twitter, Facebook or email, where the rest of the participating individuals can choose how much money they would like to contribute. Once the gift set is paid for in full, it will be sent to the recipient alongside a hand-crafted card.

Other cosmetics retailers may begin introducing similar shopping options if customer feedback requests it. This type of crowdsourced gift-giving is beneficial for families or large groups of friends seeking to collaborate on presents.

“Not only is it helping [the customer] in the shopping process, but it’s creating great awareness on the social channels for us,” Ms. Cole said.

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York