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Closing the Content Commerce Gap
Our LUSH story
Lush is a British cosmetics brand that seeks not only to create wonderful and ethical cosmetics products that challenge the dominant brands but to use innovation thinking in the manufacture of its products and in the way it reaches out to its consumers and creates its commercial success.
This attitude to ethical & product integrity and commitment to innovation as a keystone of Lush’s competitive advantage had to be extended to its Web presence offering and the nature of its website as a Customer Experience Management tool.
The way this was to be achieved was by virtue of what Myles Davidson, Managing Director of iKOS Digital calls “closing the Content/Commerce Gap”.
Driven by the Lush vision, iKOS Digital formed the Strategic Digital partner along with creative consultancy Method to create a powerful and seamless content driven commerce environment that more than contributed its part in the added value portfolio of brand & promotional activities developed for Lush as it pushes forward with its expansion and growth globally.
Lush offers the highest quality of cosmetics and beauty products; their product range is dynamic and the Lush “Kitchen” cooks up small batch, discrete product sets for immediate sale alongside its core products in several categories ranging from soaps and “Bath Bombs” to relaxing Spa oriented music collections.
Each LUSH product has a unique and important narrative, which starts with the product’s invention and ingredients sourcing, and ends with the customer’s own experience. Lush has been telling these stories in its stores for 20 years, inspiring a loyal following of “Lushies” around the world.
To create the sort of online customer experience that a brand of Lush’s personality demanded was going to be tough and require the best of customer journey thinking and technical expertise. To accomplish this considerable task Lush knew they would need a partnership of outstanding equals and these partners were iKOS and Method.
Egos had no place in creating this new experience for Lush. For the process and the result to be as good as it could be, trust and mutual respect had to be at the heart of matters. While Lush had a clear vision it was essential for Method to drive the brand messaging & look & feel and for iKOS to lead the technical, execution and implementation, none allowed proprietary or other unproductive feelings to damage the process or interrupt flow.
It was important to the Lush team that like all things connected with the Lush brand, this project should reflect its core beliefs and attitude to doing good work.
The key technical challenges were:
- Front end: what the customer sees both as an anonymous user and as a logged in customer. Building a fully responsive website which can be truly managed by internal teams is seriously hard.
- Middleware: what the editorial team use to curate the content, the project teams to mange inventory, and the customer care team to manage and amend orders
- Backend: the dozen or more third party systems that would have to be integrated into the Drupal build (stock management warehouse, shipping and logistics, e-mail broadcast tool, as well as Nosto)
After Initial briefing meetings there followed a comprehensive and collaborative six week period of discovery when in regular workshops the strategic, aesthetic and technical aspects of the new Lush web experience were thrashed out and refined to form a clear directional understanding of what would be done.
At this first level of thinking the brief was broken down into essential points for the Lush web experience:
- unified platform to manage content & commerce
- multi-lingual and global support
- a framework to meet the ambitions of the project
- powerful content curation and customer service experience
- design not inhibited by technology
- every fresh ingredient has a story
- every product has its inspiration
- content and commerce are unified to tell the story of the brand
- community is then engaged via editorial and social media
Creating this seamless online experience for Lush customers and their relationship with the Lush brand presented a qualitative experiential component that was of equal importance alongside the quantitative technical aspects of performance requirements.
For iKOS this meant accomplishing the very difficult and challenging design and implementation of what Richard Jones Technical Director at iKOS calls the “Invisible Fluid Grid”; it is the tool that enables the Lush web experience team to manage a very complex website solution internally.
This accomplishment enables Lush to take full advantage of the Drupal platform and its powerful capabilities in combination with iKOS’ expertise in enabling the quality of dynamic web experience for customers that these same customers enjoy through each of the other Lush experiences in the non-digital space.
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of this solution is the way in which it has closed the content/commerce gap and brought both together to tell the Lush product stories and to facilitate purchase at the same time. A Lush customer enjoying the Lush online customer experience is more fully engaged, desire inspired and therefore poised at the checkout for the entire period of experience.
The design delivers a seamless experience across various screen sizes, vital when considering that as many as 90% of shoppers switch devices during their purchase journey and all without losing the LUSH storyline or enjoyment of the multi-hop experience.
This approach has paid off, with the influential Econsultancy blog naming LUSH’s website a leading example of responsive design.
To maintain and enhance the integration of content and commerce, each customer gets a personal dashboard, allowing her to add photographs, choose a favorite shop, and view each product ordered alongside product reviews and comments. The team also built a holiday wish list so users can save and share the items they want most. Subtle, personalized prompts follow shoppers throughout the site.
These content-driven commerce experiences were enabled by the Drupal Commerce framework and the Acquia Commerce Platform, which provided the reliable backbone of technology that also ensured that the site was secure and scalable and could handle a massive influx of traffic and transactions without compromising the integrity of the features and applications on the site.
What began as a single solution to enhance the customer experience in the UK turned into much more, the nature of the iKOS/Method collaboration has meant that LUSH’s Japan and Brazil sites were able to implement their respective versions with a completely different team using the framework created by LUSH UK, maintaining brand integrity while making necessary regional adaptations.
Ultimately, this integration of content and commerce delivered amazing metrics to LUSH UK with a dramatic increase of online sales and a substantial spike in site traffic in just six months. It not only helped build a larger community of loyal “Lushies” online, but it proved the power of commerce and content together, closing the content/commerce gap and so enhancing the online customer experience.
It is this truly open and trusting, collaborative approach between aligned strategic partners that has created for Lush not only a powerful web presence but an harmonious synchronicity between all articulations other media such as the Lush magazine and catalogue, of the Lush brand and its very clear messages.