LUSH Uses Yext to Keep Customers Up to Date During a Time of Crisis
- DTC, Retail
- Vancouver, Canada
If you’ve ever been inside a LUSH store, odds are it was a sensory experience. Whether it’s the amazing smells of the Avobath bath bomb, Karma soap, and Vanillary perfume, or the ability to sample the brand’s cruelty-free products, you likely won’t forget your visit.
So when the global COVID-19 pandemic first reached North America, LUSH decided to turn one of its signature in-store features into a public service for anyone passing by: free hand washing.
While face masks and social distancing have become the norms for staying as safe as possible when around others, at the outset of the pandemic, the primary guidelines were to frequently wash your hands. So, this became the perfect opportunity for LUSH to help promote an important safety measure that it already had available. But the brand’s goodwill gesture was short-lived. The very next day, LUSH was forced to close its stores as the world went into lockdown.
Not only could it no longer provide a public service, it couldn’t provide any service. And for such an experiential brand, no more storefronts meant it had to think quickly about how to engage customers online. But first, LUSH needed an efficient way to inform people that its hundreds of locations would be closed around the country, and to get ahead of the questions it knew would come in. With a lean digital marketing team of only three, the brand turned to Yext to streamline the whole process.
“We really saw the value of Yext when COVID happened,” explains Benedicte Jeulin, Digital Marketing Manager at LUSH. “It was a crisis like we’ve never experienced, and we had to make many rapid changes in just two days — and then changes to those changes. We needed to ensure we could be nimble and fast, and Yext helped us do that.”
LUSH swiftly published some 18,000 critical updates across the Yext Knowledge Network, made up of approximately 175 digital services globally, including Google, Amazon Alexa, Apple, Bing, and Yahoo. Without Yext, this would have been a manual, highly time-consuming process — one that likely would have left many customers in the lurch.
LUSH’s collaboration with Yext has continued to prove invaluable as parts of the United States and Canada have begun to open again. Jeulin says guidelines for when retail stores are allowed to reopen can vary greatly across states and between Canadian provinces, making a centralised process for pushing out updates all the more important.
“From just the simple updates like if a store is open and what its hours are, to larger updates like if curbside pickup is available or if in-store shopping is an option, we need to ensure our customers have the most accurate information,” says Laure Hessin, Search Marketing Specialist. “Thanks to Yext, we were able to update our 260 (now 296) stores’ statuses in bulk across many sites, which saved us a lot of time. And now that our stores are progressively reopening in several phases, from contactless pickup only, to fully open for in-store shopping, Yext allows us to easily make those updates across search experiences.”
From Offline to Online — Then Back Again
At the beginning of COVID, people retreated to the safety of their own homes and focused on how to get essentials — groceries, medicine, and, of course, toilet paper. But as consumers have gotten back out into the world, LUSH has started to see an increase in search activity — as well as a different approach to shopping.
“Since COVID-19 disrupted the world, we’ve seen customers change how they shop,” says Jeulin. “Before, more people would visit our stores spontaneously — they would come in to browse, or because something in our display caught their attention when they passed by. But now, since hours and days change and reduce often, they’re making plans in advance and checking to see if a store is open before they go.”
The brand has updated its buy online and pickup in-store options on its website.
“For last week’s sales, the highest conversion rate was from organic search,” explains Jeulin. “Our digital customers are mostly coming to our website from Google, though they usually are searching for our brand when they search.”
For brands facing similar challenges, Hessin advises to make the digital customer experience your top priority.
“Because of COVID, shoppers are thinking and buying with a digital-first mindset,” she says. “Make your products discoverable online and optimise your website for user experience. Connect with your customers. Get their feedback to improve their online experience and increase retention.”
Leading by Example
In a time of crisis, being able to arm your customers with the information they are searching for is critical. Since COVID-19 began to affect normal business operations, LUSH’s small team has hyper-focused on a seamless customer experience, leveraging the Yext platform to make more than 18,000 critical updates to the brand’s listings (between March 2020 and June 2020). That number includes more than 11,000 updates to LUSH’s core business information, like store hours, more than 4,800 updates to structured data, including product information, and some 1,500 updates to branding assets like business descriptions and location photos.
All told, the LUSH team’s consistent and timely updates during the pandemic mark a whopping 10x increase in average monthly updates compared to the average for the 12 months prior. But most importantly, their swift actions and strong digital marketing hygiene have allowed them to keep their customers informed and engaged — and maintain business continuity — despite the unprecedented odds.