Cyndi Isgrig

When Dermstore president Cyndi Isgrig took the stage at the WWD Digital Forum, she said “it took five things for us to become who we are and where we’re going in the future.”

First, it’s about determining who you are as a brand, she said. “What are the goals?”

At its start, Dermstore, founded in 1999 by dermatologist Craig A. Kraffert, wanted to be able to make professional grade skin care accessible to everybody.

“The idea took off so much that he was no longer able to fulfill out of his practice and needed to start fulfilling all of the product out of his garage,” said Isgrig.

Today, the e-commerce site, which expanded outside of skin care in 2008, also offers hair care and cosmetics. In 2013, it was acquired by Target Corp.

“It is a very divided line, but it is wonderful to have a rich uncle who is very invested in our space,” shared Isgrig.

This year, she said, the company has focused on getting back to its roots: “We’re all about educating the public in this very confusing space right now, where there’s a lot of saturation of product and what ingredients work and what doesn’t.”

The executive proceeded to continue sharing what it takes to develop a company from a small start-up to one like Dermstore, the largest pure-play beauty e-commerce company in the U.S., she said.

Second, it’s about investing in good data structure and reporting to understand customers and their behavior.

“We want to make sure we are serving the customer,” she said. “Ultimately, that is the goal.”

It’s also important to know the purpose of each marketing channel and invest accordingly, she shared.

At the company, they break down customers into two categories: hunters, those who already know what it is they are looking for, and browsers. The former is looking for a convenient and quick checkout process, she added. “It’s an opportunity to upsell and show them more of what they may be looking for.”

For the latter, they know they’re interested in a category, but they don’t necessarily know what they want. It’s about solving problems, an opportunity to educate and introduce these customers to blogs and editorial content, she shared.

“This is crazy to put here at a digital forum but avoid the temptation to solve everything with technology,” she said as her fourth point.

They’ve problem-solved in other ways, like creating curated kits of products based on audience reviews, she said. The items are dermatologist-approved, and for skin care, it must be innovative. For hair care, it’s about a healthy scalp, and for cosmetics, it’s complexion.

Technology comes in for personalization, looking at data and analyzing what each individual is searching. It’s also applied in an area of their site called “the expert corner.” “It’s like the dermatologist office,” said Isgrig.

In the end, you have to love what you sell, she said as her last point. And the brand focuses on bringing together a community of experts, brands and customers while leading through education. “Dermstore wins when all three of these areas of the community win.”

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