Overcoming the Challenges in Selling Health and Beauty Products Online

What can be the challenges in selling health and beauty products online?


With a high penetration in affordable smartphones, cheaper data plans, rise in disposable incomes and the emergence of make-up influencers it is no surprise that online health and beauty stores are enjoying rapid growth. Health and beauty sector that was walled by behemoths such as Lakme, Loreal, VLCC, etc. is witnessing an influx of new vegan and ayurvedic health and beauty brands. Another reason for the rise in online purchase of health and beauty products is Gen Z entering the workforce who are tech-savvy, heavy users of social media and short-form video apps and believe that using make-up products boosts their confidence and self-esteem. As per a joint report by Assocham and MRSS (Majestic Research Services and Solutions Ltd) India, the Indian cosmetics and grooming industry market size is expected to expand up to $35 Billion by 2035. 

In the health and beauty industry sales are primarily dependent on touch and feel throws challenges while purchasing the same online. Before, entrepreneurs set their foot to begin selling health and beauty products online, below are some challenges they are likely to face: 

Building loyalty

Since, health and beauty products are not bought on a monthly or weekly basis, the online brands are on their toes to attract conversions and give customers a reason to remain loyal to the brand considering the fierce competition from offline and online health and beauty brands.

How to buy without testing

Replicating the offline experience of having testers, and sample kits might seem difficult online. Sales happen based on the product’s suitability on customers skin or hair tone. The presence of assistants in the stores helps customers help give makeovers and product demonstrations, which further strengthens the purchasing decision of customers. 

Product ingredients

‘I do not know if I am allergic to hyaluronic acid or glycerine in creams.’

Respecting the fact that every individual’s skin type is different, the product ingredient might or might not be suitable for a particular skin type. Offline, it is possible to try the product and confirm if it can cause side effects. 

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As per a joint report by Assocham and MRSS (Majestic Research Services and Solutions Ltd) India, the Indian cosmetics and grooming industry market size is expected to expand up to $35 Billion by 2035. 

How technology is solving this for health and beauty online stores 

Implementation of technology by the health and beauty segment is gradually being adopted by D2C brands in India, here are some companies who are successfully leveraging it:

Offering customized products through AI

Generic product solutions focused on the mass market might be ineffective in or using it further could worsen the existing problems. Vedix is India’s first customized Ayurvedic hair care solution that uses artificial intelligence to offer personalized haircare solutions to its customers. Once the customer visits the website, they introduce them with a questionnaire where they are required to fill in with details about any major illness, allergies, past treatment, current medications, climatic conditions, etc. AI takes all these responses into account and analyses user’s Doshas based on their answers in the questionnaire and suggests shampoo and hair oil whose ingredients are balanced accordingly. According to Ayurveda, balancing Doshas helps improve the quality of health which in turn improves hair health. 

Virtual Make-up

The challenge of not being able to try the makeup or get an in-store makeover can be overcome by the use of AR. Entrepreneurs can stimulate the demand of purchasing online health and beauty products. It works based on facial recognition technology where it measures the location of lips and eyes in real-time and tracks those facial feature points to understand where to put the cosmetics. With virtual makeovers, the customers can select any product from the catalogue at the comfort of a click and instantly find how they look. Right from trying different make-up looks, hairstyles, and accessories, it removes the time-consuming task of removing and applying different make-up products. The app can help you in giving a virtual makeover which is nothing less than an offline experience. The Virtual makeup software can be of two types: 

1.AR beauty camera: The people can click their selfies and try different makeovers with various face modification features, photo, and video editing features. 

2. Virtual Make-Up Tryons: The virtual makeup system acts like a mirror, where the products as AR filters are applied to find their suitability to the face or look.

Smart Skincare Tools

The smart skincare tools offer personalised tips and product recommendations based on a skin score that scans the pores, wrinkles, acne, pimples, fine lines, etc. Olay through its app ‘Future You Simulation’ enables users to visualize skin quality and anticipate skin health in the future using AR, by giving a score.

Ingredient information

The knowledge about the chemical composition or formulations in the cosmetic products is of paramount concern to the customers. Consumers like to purchase from brands that show transparency in showing what an ingredient does. The information provided by the brands helps customers to make more informed decisions based on health, lifestyle, or ethical concerns. To decode the terminology used by the brands and help customers understand its toxicity many brands are enabling a system where customers can scan the product barcode and receive information on the product and its ingredients. 

What Shopify has to give? 

Virtual Make-up Apps from Shopify

Shopify Apps have a plethora of Virtual Make-up Apps to select for your store. The most commonly used beauty app from Shopify is YouCam Makeup. This app allows people to virtually try on makeup using a live camera or an image of a model who resembles them or uploading photos of themselves. It can support various types of products such as eyeliner, eye shadow, blush, and lipstick, etc. YouCam Makeup is easily installable and is compatible with mobile devices. It ‘before and after’ comparison feature helps customers to anticipate the effects of using the makeup product. 

Creating subscription

Since health and beauty products are not bought weekly or fortnightly, entrepreneurs should consider a beauty subscription box. Shopify App Store has many tools which can help entrepreneurs to create a beauty subscription box. Bold Subscriptions on the Shopify app store is a convenient tool for creating recurring orders and consistent payments. With this app, we can seamlessly integrate recurring payments with the products, store, cart, accounts, and checkout. Bold Subscription also has a feature that lets customers decide what to add in subscription, pause or manage orders. The subscription model in the health and beauty sector increases sales.

Indicate allergens in the products

To educate or increase transparency about the ingredients in beauty products Shopify has plugins to add icons to the product pages to indicate paraben-free, cruelty-free, vegan, or organic products. 

Adding colour variant

The Swatches App found in the Shopify App store allows entrepreneurs to display products in various colours. Instead of displaying a regular drop-down menu of colour variants, it showcases the colours into elegant swatches. The app installs instantly and does not require any coding or programming language. It works seamlessly with all website themes. 

The above apps and plugins provided by Shopify for selling health and beauty products online can overcome the challenges earlier faced, ultimately improving customers’ buying decisions. With this, let us get started selling health and beauty products online.

Shalmoli Sarkar
Shalmoli Sarkar
An MBA in marketing and a BTech in chemical engineering, Shalmoli writes on marketing strategies and business technology for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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