March 23, 2010, 12:00 AM

Social shopping tool helps drive 15% increase in sales at a skincare site

German skincare retailer Hautbalance Naturkosmetik says sales are up 15% since it launched a social tool on its site that enables consumers to connect with friends, post items to social networks and see what other shoppers like.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

German skincare retailer Hautbalance Naturkosmetik says sales have increased 15% and average order value is up 50% since it launched a social shopping tool on its e-commerce site.

The tool enables consumers to virtually connect and chat with friends while shopping on the site. Or shoppers can post questions or comments about products to their social network profiles. The site also shows shoppers the items that are most popular with other customers browsing the site at the same time.

The feature called ShopTogether, from vendor DecisionStep, can be accessed via a toolbar at the bottom of every page on the Hautbalance retail site. ShopTogether Friends enables a shopper to invite a friend to navigate the retail site with her, and also to post products she likes or has questions about to Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. ShopTogether Crowd shows a shopper what other consumers are browsing on the site while she is on it.

“Because Hautbalance is a specialized web site for natural cosmetics, we transferred the concept of our bricks-and-mortar business to our online store,” says Elke Hockauf, Hautbalance CEO. “For customers of cosmetics, it is very important to get extensive consultation with friends, relatives and experts, so ShopTogether Friends is perfect for our shopper. Also, fashion trends are very important in the cosmetics business, so ShopTogether Crowd is a great way to show shoppers the hottest items.”

In addition to experiencing higher average order value and sales, Hautbalance says the tool is more cost-effective on a cost-per-click bases than other advertising channels such as paid search. The tool took about two weeks to implement, DecisionStep says.

The ShopTogether application is delivered in the software-as-a-service model. This means the application is hosted by ShopTogether and consumers do not have to download software to access the application. DecisionStep typically licenses the offering to retailers on an annual basis. In the U.S., apparel retailer Charlotte Russe also uses ShopTogether technology on its retail site.

The increases in sales and average order values compare data from December 2008, when the retailer did not offer the tool, to December 2009, when it did.

DecisionStep will be exhibiting at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition.

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