There are numerous reasons why a beauty store might decide to ship its products. Brian J. Esposito, CEO of AVEYOU Beauty Boutique/AVEYOU.com in Belmar, New Jersey, found that a seasonal customer base would not supply enough year-round traffic for his brick-and-mortar operation. After his flagship opened in Deal, New Jersey, in April 2002, business was booming in the affluent area, but it abruptly halted when September rolled around and the summer homes emptied out. “We had always assisted local shoppers through shipping out items here and there, but it was a real shock that forced us to make this investment,” recalls Esposito. “The summer business was incredible, but not strong enough for us to support the brands we invested in, nor [to] keep the store afloat throughout the off-season; so, without hesitation, I quickly began developing a one-stop beauty shop online—initially to cater to our store’s customer base.” Thanks to a combination of focus on exceptional customer service, product knowledge and smart brand selection, word of mouth spread quickly, and the online site became a destination for beauty buffs around the globe. “Now we have customers driving to our AVEYOU Beauty Boutique flagship store in Deal all year long, and we’re shipping thousands of orders per week to shoppers around the world!” enthuses Esposito.
Indeed, shipping services can drive customers to the brick-and-mortar store, as Scott Catto, managing director of Three Custom Color Specialists in New York City, found out. Though the company started as a mail-order business and always shipped, its informational website launched in 1996, and within a few years ecommerce began and has grown steadily ever since. “Customers’ shopping habits have changed drastically over the last 15 years, and they’re not hesitant to pay for shipping or to purchase enough to qualify for free shipping when they’re getting a product/service they might not be able to get locally,” says Catto. “And each order that we ship has information about our color studio, so we have many customers who come to New York to see us in person when they’re staying nearby or passing through.” In particular, customer feedback has been very positive because the online store allows customers to shop at their convenience—even while on the go. To facilitate repeat orders, the website makes it easy for shoppers to reorder their favorites with a few clicks rather than by visiting the business to stock up, adds Catto.
Esposito reminds his online shoppers about his store with every order: All orders are shipped in AVEYOU-branded boxes and inside AVEYOU eco-friendly reusable shopping bags, which have proven popular with customers. “We have always made our online shoppers feel as if they just left our store when they open their packages,” explains Esposito. “The goal is to make receiving that order an experience.” The efforts have paid off, as the company experiences fervent customer loyalty, notes Esposito, and greater trust in its services. In fact, some customers have contacted brands directly to request that they supply their products to AVEYOU, since it’s the only company they shop with.