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Beauty Digital Forum: Dermstore Execs Debate Curation Versus Personalization

Chief merchandising officer Jani Friedman and chief marketing officer Cathy Beaupain discussed the topic at the WWD Digital Beauty Summit.

When Dermstore chief merchandising officer Jani Friedman and chief marketing officer Cathy Beaupain were building a new customer experience strategy for the online retailer last year, the task at hand got off to a rocky start.

“I hated [the personalization tool] when we first started,” Friedman admitted to the audience during an on-stage presentation. “[It] was a great thing for our company, but [I was] used to curating and making sure that [there was] something new every single day to share with customers because there are so many great concepts out there, and all of a sudden this personalization engine comes on and it’s an infant.”

With competition in the e-commerce space ever-growing, both executives felt their particular strengths — Friedman’s curation from the store’s merchant team and Beaupain’s personalization tools backed by customer data — would yield a winning strategy in customer retention.

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“Yin and yang” is how Beaupain described the duo’s contrasting approaches. But in the battle of personalization versus curation, they discovered the winner was a combination of both.

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One key example is the success of the Ora Microneedle Face Roller System, a product that Dermstore carries and that has been on the market for some time, but with little consumer awareness. After Friedman noticed a rapid uptick in sales of the product, which allows active ingredients to penetrate at a deeper rate, she saw an opportunity to upsell the customer with pricy serums. Educational content and videos were developed, and Beaupain’s team created a trigger that presents the information on microneedling when a customer is looking at product pages containing serums or products with active ingredients. Beaupain and Friedman said the product’s conversion rate doubled.

This kind of education combined with targeted marketing is what the Dermstore executives believe has customers coming back to the Web site.

“We are all under lots of competition to solve this puzzle on how to connect with customers, how to deliver our experience and tell our story,” said Beaupain. “Every one of us needs to figure out how to become more meaningful to our customers.”