3 Ways To Crush Holiday 2020: Stella & Dot Shares Their Strategy
Holiday 2020 is expected to be the biggest ecommerce holiday in history. With fewer people going into stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ecommerce is increasingly the channel of choice for consumers. Now, with holidays fast approaching, the focus for many retailers and brands is cutting through the competitive noise to garner more online traffic and customers than any holiday season before.
One brand scaling their business during the pandemic is Stella & Dot Brands, the social retail company comprised of three brands: Stella & Dot, Keep Collective and Ever Skincare. Stella & Dot started out selling accessories using a social selling model. Similar to predecessors like Mary Kay, Stella & Dot designed the company to create economic opportunities for women while leveraging their influence to help their friends and followers discover new products through friendly advice. Stella & Dot grew from accessories to a personalized charm line with Keep Collective, thereafter launching clinical skincare with Ever seven years ago.
Jessica Herrin, CEO and Founder of Stella & Dot
Courtesy of Stella & Dot
Given their growth and online presence, I wanted to learn more about Stella & Dot’s holiday approach so I sat down with their CEO and Founder Jessica Herrin at the CommerceNext Holiday Summit last week. Their 2020 holiday strategy is largely centered around a digital-first, social selling model that fully launched this season.
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The business originally sold through brand ambassadors in an in-person setting. A few years ago, they started to move to a digital-first solution and built a social retail platform where ambassadors could use their patent pending app to customize a look, then share it on social or text it to customers who can shop that look on their phone. This service launched earlier this year and gives both the brand ambassadors and customers a seamless way to share and engage across digital channels. Stella & Dot believes that enabling this type of personal engagement is critical in today’s world, thus, their extension of that strategy into the 2020 holiday season.
Stella & Dot Social Selling Platform
Courtesy of Stella & Dot
Herrin broke down their strategy into three core tactics:
- Merchandise to consumer needs. Consumer needs changed during COVID and a company’s product mix has to reflect those needs. In March, Stella & Dot rolled out travel bags, but as consumers aren’t currently traveling, this product is taking a back seat. Instead, the company has increased sales from a rise in self-care trends by amplifying their Ever Skincare products. And, consumers want to give personalized gifts with meaning now more than ever, making the Keep charms and bracelets perfect for this holiday season.
- Use brand ambassadors versus influencers. People used to race into influencer marketing. It worked initially because it was authentic, but the more brands chased it, the more it became no different from an ad. Brand ambassadors (or “nano influencers”), on the other hand, are people who have an actual, organic affinity for the product. Stella & Dot’s entire business is built around brand ambassadors—they invested in building a compensation system and learning platform for a field of women. These women exude realness and they continue to be effective channels for selling Stella & Dot merchandise. While a social selling platform is helpful for managing brand ambassadors, it’s not a requirement. Many brands implement a “light” version of this by building a community of fans with a large social following and sending them gifts and experiences that they can share on social channels.
- Direct community engagement. With people hesitant to go into stores, it’s important to find new ways to directly engage with your customers. Stella & Dot goes live on social media every Wednesday to highlight products. They also train their ambassadors to do their own simple virtual events spotlighting products and offering giveaways on key items each week. These events offer a direct personal connection and have been growing in popularity among both brands and consumers during the pandemic.
If your brand is looking for new ways to attract customers, Stella & Dot’s playbook recommends getting back to your most authentic roots. Listen to customers’ needs, expose them to some trusted peers who genuinely recommend the products and then work hard to stay connected.
Better yet, starting early next year, brands can partner with Stella & Dot directly. In early 2021, Stella & Dot will make their social selling platform available to third party brands. This creates a social retail channel where brand ambassadors promote and sell the goods and the retailer drop ships the products directly to the consumer. While this solution won’t be available for our upcoming holiday season, this new channel will be exciting to watch and explore throughout 2021 and beyond.