Body Shop Refreshes E-Commerce Presence

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The Body Shop has scrubbed all traces of its past U.S. e-commerce site.


Under vice president of e-commerce and eve.com founder Mariam Naficy, the U.S. site at thebodyshop.com now can go toe to toe with all 304 Body Shop stores nationwide.


From selling only gift sets, thebodyshop.com today carries the retailer's full assortment of 750 SKUs, give or take 100 or 200 depending on the season.


But the Sept. 7 relaunch came almost four years after the British-owned Body Shop announced plans to enter the U.S. e-commerce market in the 2000 holiday season. At the time, thebodyshop.com was part of an alliance with Japan's Softbank Venture Capital.


Now, the animal-friendly and environmentally conscious Body Shop, San Francisco, has entered the online retail market without encumbrance.


Visitors to thebodyshop.com can shop by ingredients or categories such as body, bath, skincare, makeup, home fragrance, hair, aromatherapy, men's and accessories. Gifts top the list, since Body Shop is known for its packages.


"Why did it take so long? Eventually people realized there would be a strategic advantage in launching with more knowledge and more experience in the e-commerce space," Naficy said. "For example, we didn't have a legacy system to deal with.


"Back in 1999 and 2000, retailers installed legacy systems that are now outpaced by new systems. The legacy system issue is a very painful one for retailers right now, and the nice thing for us is we were able to assess the seven or eight platforms and choose the best."


The company opted for Cambridge, MA-based ATG's e-commerce platform, ditching one by QuinStreet. AKQA, San Francisco, designed thebodyshop.com's user interface, flow, wire frames and its look and feel.


To get the word out, Body Shop will rely on search engine and affiliate marketing, a task handled by Performics. Banners will fit into the media plan if it makes sense to the company.


"The company, as a practice, does not do offline advertising," Naficy said.


Online ads will point to thebodyshop.com, targeting the demographic of women ages 25-44 who buy beauty products online or via catalog.


The site has features in common with its peers: e-mail signups, sales, best-seller suggestions, feedback solicitations and tips.


Points of distinction include the choice of two free samples with every online purchase and the Lunch Lounge. The Lunch Lounge section is designed to encourage repeat visits and purchases, with discounts and promotions offered only on Thursdays during lunch hour.


"We surveyed 1,500 women and found that one of the biggest problems was that they were strapped for time, and many were trying to do a lot during their lunch hour, including shopping online," Naficy said. "We created the Lunch Lounge as an online escape to get quick beauty tips, to increase community features."


Body Shop's definition of the Web lunch hour is what its customers may envy as much as its products: noon to 5 p.m. Eastern time.


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