Nigel Beauty is a retailer that caters to professionals in makeup, hairstyling, special FX, and others who work in beauty, film, television, and theater. Although open to the public, more than half of their customers work as professionals. These talented men and women are among the best, and expect the best, including an experience that combines a wide range of artistic influences, hard-to-find cult favorite products, and an intense passion for their craft.
Many makeup and haircare brands offer professionals discounts to help create generate awareness among the artists and their clients. Instead of negotiating or working with each brand individually, professionals can shop at Nigel Beauty's and get all of their professional shopping done in one place. The Nigel Pro Membership is a great unique selling point for Nigel Beauty, but also creates some difficulties. It effectively means everything is on sale every day for accredited customers, but most brands do not want their perceived value diminished by being advertised at those discounts. Nigel Beauty had to rely on word-of-mouth that it is the definitive place for professionals to shop.
Initial focus was placed on digital marketing and social media. Email marketing, the rise of instagram, attendance at trade shows, and hosting in-store educational workshops helped to build the brand and its ecommerce business. By 2014, monthly traffic to the website had increased by 700% and built a highly engaged social media following. I set up their email marketing, from working with ESPs, to merchandising and designing the email newsletters. I started to implement small shifts in branding and establish guidelines in typography that worked their way into advertisements, the website, digital media, and in-store graphics.
The addition of educational director David Hernandez created the opportunity to develop more unique, in-house workshops and gave the store a trusted expert to provide tips & insight for marketing new products, improving social media posts, and blog articles. Cult favorite brands like France's Le Maquillage Pro, Danessa Myricks Beauty, and others were added the online inventory. David and I created short, instructional videos using live streaming platforms like Periscope and Facebook Live to help show the strengths of these smaller brands alongside older, trusted brands.
A complete overhaul of the ecommerce platform was completed in 2017. Although numerous incremental updates were made, it was all showing its age. Web developer Matthew Poirier lead the overall server upgrade on the backend and gave invaluable insight to assist with the new theme and features that I added on the frontend. Responsive design, a more minimalist look, CDN integration, improved search, a bespoke responsive banner system, and external API integration were the key features in the new design. Pageviews in a sample month increased 83% and the bounce rate was reduced by 43% compared to the year before.
A key part of the business, the Pro Account signup process, was also redesigned in 2017. It had taken considerable time for customers to sign up and for Nigel Beauty employees to process each record individually. Changes were made to reduce the signup process from up to fourteen days down to one or two days. The signup process was better optimized so mistakes decreased. Using an API integration, a backend was made so that Nigel Beauty employees could easily process and approve accounts. This previously required employees to use a mistake-laden process of bouncing between email, the website backend, and the in-store POS system. The new system kept customers aware of their progress in getting their account approved, receiving emails with their progress and approval, and reduced confusion and mistakes amongst Nigel Beauty employees.
The Nigel Beauty ecommerce business has grown over 100 times in annual revenue since 2012 and is an important part of thousands of professional makeup artists, hairstylists, and special FX artists in helping realize their goals in making people look their best.