Natural beauty: The Body Shop's Barrie Thomas on digital empires

  • News
  • August 15, 2016
  • Elly Strang
Natural beauty: The Body Shop's Barrie Thomas on digital empires

Tell us about where The Body Shop is at with omnichannel retail. How are you engaging with this trend? 
With 28 stores throughout New Zealand and a range of The Body Shop products available in some pharmacies and in selected Farmers’ stores, we do believe our products are accessible to most New Zealanders, but see that having an online presence is an essential additional service for those customers who prefer to shop that way. Whenever possible, we treat our online store as our 29th outlet and our online promotions mirror those found in our bricks-and-mortar stores. This means we have embraced the omnichannel concept and are well on our way to achieving a true omnichannel solution. It has really just been a natural evolution of our existing systems and we always like to try to stay ahead of the curve.

What are some ways you’re personalising service online?

We already have a unified customer solution giving us the single view of each customer in-store and online. Now, we have started a number of different initiatives to use buying and browsing behaviour to tweak each customer’s view of the website, and soon we will be able to offer individual promotions if we wanted to.

A big part of omnichannel is an emphasis on offering a seamless experience across bricks and mortar and web. How is your company tackling this goal?
Our omnichannel solution already uses the ‘single source of truth’ for all transaction history: stock records, customer records, prices and promotions so that they are the same in-store and online. Our goal is to have 100 percent product availability everywhere for everyone, same price, same promotions and we are well on our way to this.

Tell us about the voice your brand uses on social media.
It is important to maintain a consistent brand voice across all aspects of the business. Our story started with Anita Roddick's belief in something revolutionary - that business could be a force for good. In 1976, The Body Shop was born. We've always done things differently - broken the mould, been bold and been brave. Online this means being original, irreverent and campaigning for what’s right together with our customers. Our voice is approachable, educational, slightly cheeky and quintessentially British. We love our products and sharing the amazing ingredient stories behind them.

Which social media sites are most important to your business and why?

Facebook has traditionally been our primary channel for engaging with our customers, especially about events, new product launches and promotions. Facebook is also an extremely approachable way for a customer to interact directly with the brand and ask questions, as opposed to what can be seen as the more formal channels of customer care, such as email and the 0800 number. Instagram is fast becoming our favoured social media channel as it is the perfect platform for bringing the brand to life visually.

This story originally appeared in NZRetail magazine issue 744 June / July 2016

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