How Juice Beauty puts digital at the heart of customer experience. Interview with Jeffrey Grannis

Juice Beauty is a retailer in hyper growth. Their niche is skin-kind, beauty products made from certified organic ingredients. was recently named as one of “The Hot 100 - The Year's Most Innovative E-Retailers" by InternetRetailer and also featured in their report: Catalysts of Change. At the helm of online is Jeffrey Grannis, Director of Digital. I caught up with him to understand how the beauty landscape is changing and how he is pioneering online personalization.
How long have you been in the beauty business?
Six years and counting.

On the eCommerce side of things, what seismic shifts have you seen?
Traditionally, I feel that Beauty has been predominantly an in store, sensory experience. Whereas now, with the growth of online, businesses are able to reach a very specific audience, which is helping niche brands blow up! Digital has been an amazing tool to get that niche story out to people that care.

What are some of the things you’re doing to bring the offline experience online?
We make skin care and makeup products with certified organic ingredients, so one of the challenges that we’ve seen is really showing the textures of the products and how they look when put on your skin.

As an example, we use a lot of videos and close-ups of the textures to show the buoyancy of the products. This has been incredibly important for customers to see, because I feel like those are all the types of feelings you would get in person.
It sounds like you’ve invested quite a lot of resource in the digital experience. How have you prioritized your initiatives seeing as every innovation comes with a price tag?
It’s similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. We started making sure the basics were sorted and built from there. Making sure all the information a customer would need is available, and then layering on amazing videos, amazing images, and finally experimenting with showing products on different skin types.

Have you got an open dialogue with your customers to help you understand what’s working well?
We try to do that on social media. If we see one of our posts receives a ton of traction on Instagram, for example, we try to use something similar on our product page because it seems that people are responding to that type of imagery.

That’s smart. How about your team, how has the headcount changed over the last few years?
Our digital team has doubled in the last three years. Which has been awesome, and we get to invest a lot more time in video, imagery and social media - we do all that in-house now.

Regarding the next hires, we are going to get more people focusing on acquisition and retention. We will also hire more developers, so we can continue to innovate and enhance the digital experience further.

Acquisition and retention is interesting, where does personalization come into play?
Personalization has been really important for us, especially to convert and retain customers.
A lot of what we’re doing with Qubit is around creating experiences for all the new customers we bring in, whether it’s using the skin quiz or new customer messaging. It’s all about taking the new customers, showing them items they will care about based on the information they give us, converting them, and then being able to use all that data to retain them moving forward with other items we know they will love.

Tell me more about the skin quiz...
We built a skin quiz with Qubit based off how people look for products on our site. We ask them whether they are interested in skin care or makeup. From there we ask them for a specific product: Is it a cleanser, a moisturiser, or a treatment? Then we move into concerns: If they’re looking for a new cleanser or a new moisturiser or something very specific? Then we ask them: is it for blemishes, is it brightening, is it anti-aging, or for hydration?

Sometimes people don’t really know what they’re looking for and this helps them get on the correct track, narrowing it down to one specific product, because we don’t want to throw too much at them, especially if they’re a new customer.

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(See the skin quiz in Qubit’s Book of Beauty)

In general, Beauty brands have lots of SKUs. What does that mean for site navigation?
We do. And that’s why we think that too much choice can be overwhelming. If you’re coming to the site, yes, maybe you know that we make skin care and makeup with certified organic ingredients, but otherwise, where do you start? And that’s why the skin quiz is so important. It’s about getting them on a path, getting them to try a new product, and then from there we can expand with all our other amazing products.

Has access to data changed how you think about your customer and your approach to segmentation?
Yes, I was recently at a digital conference in Vegas and I feel like everyone has tons of data but everyone is struggling is to find the time and bandwidth to be able to figure out what to do with it.
One thing that surprised us from the data, is that certain products, like our Green Apple Brightening line, were five times more likely to be purchased when a shopper was buying from other categories.

It was interesting for us because we assumed beforehand that our anti-aging Stem Cellular line was a perfect complement with our make-up. But then, once we started to see our own customer behavior, we were quite surprised.

Great for product pairing and recommendations!
Exactly. Exciting data for our merchandising team!

There’s new stuff happening all the time in the digital space, whether it’s AI or virtual reality. What’s hype, what’s interesting and what’s actually useful?
For me personally, I really think it’s 1:1 personalization. Using machine learning algorithms to have personal relationships with each of our customers is one of my biggest goals.

Obviously Amazon has done a great job of trying to personalize their site–I feel it’s more difficult for them, as they have so many products. However for us, we have a ton of data about our customers and we want to make sure that when they visit we’re giving them the relevant information on products they care about.

That’s one of my biggest focuses for the next 18 months. How do we make the experience personalized for each individual person coming to the site and not making generalizations on a group of people. Much like that in store beauty encounter, we want to provide that perfect personalized beauty experience for items they care about.

That’s my goal for Juice Beauty.

To hear from more beauty brands, download Qubit’s Book of Beauty.