How Clarins Scaled Their Global E-Commerce Through Agile Experimentation
Clarins’ partnership with AB Tasty changed the way their teams work together across 30 markets, turning testing into an agile, collaborative process.
The business of Clarins is beauty. And at the heart of their efforts is making women feel comfortable and beautiful at every stage of their lives.
Imagine: Your e-commerce team builds tons of impactful customer experiences, works seamlessly together in an agile environment, and deploys experiments with ease around the world.
This is the reality at Clarins.
The globally-renowned beauty brand was an early adopter of experimentation, using it as a tool to improve user experiences as part of their CRO strategy. Thanks to this investment, Clarins, which operates in over 150 countries and 30 e-commerce markets, has not only turned testing and personalization into a competitive advantage, but also grown local markets through a flourishing culture of experimentation.
For the past decade, the team has championed pairing dynamic digital experiences with offline-quality service. Just ask Stephanie Gaspar and Ryma Ziani, who head up the digital customer experience at Clarins.
“Experimentation has always been part of Clarins’ DNA. Testing new products, formulas, and ideas is part of our culture,” says Stephanie, a 12-year veteran of the organization, who currently manages the digital customer experience team. “The advantage of experimenting is that it helps validate our hypotheses quickly, make faster roadmap decisions, and better leverage user experiences to ‘wow’ our customers.”
Experimentation woven into Clarins’ DNA
Clarins has long been a leader in digital transformation, launching e-shops around the world and ensuring a consistent brand experience online and offline. In recent years, experimentation and data analytics have been the focal point of that transformation, so much that robust practices are now built into day-to-day business operations at Clarins.
“What is key for us is leveraging our data to provide personalized, one-to-one service and experiences online,” Stephanie says. “Customers, after all, are at the heart of everything Clarins does.”
What is key for us is leveraging our data to provide personalized, one-to-one service and experiences online. Customers, after all, are at the heart of everything Clarins does.
Knowing exactly which experience is best suited for which customer and in which country is no easy feat — after all, not all personalizations are created equal. This is where the partnership with AB Tasty comes into play, enabling Clarins to quickly identify high-impact growth strategies and avoid low-performing actions through a test-and-learn approach.
The team cites AB Tasty’s experience optimization platform as the gamechanger in helping them with easily setting up tests and collecting insights to validate ideas, make data-centric decisions and accelerate time to market.
Ryma, Clarins’ UX project manager who’s been with the brand for more than eight years, is quick to acknowledge the value that AB Tasty’s low-code solution and worldwide customer support coverage has added to the e-commerce and UX teams.
“It gave us the ability to accelerate our rollout at both global and local levels, drive more engagement on our website, and deliver a seamless user experience — without needing to enlist the help of our tech development teams,” she says.
AB Tasty’s platform enables different markets to duplicate experiences and adapt the learnings to a regional context. This knowledge-sharing ethos fosters an exchange of ideas and learning culture, which has also produced a community aspect within the organization.
“AB Tasty has changed the way we work together,” Ryma confirms. “Today, we have almost 30 markets [onboarded], building a community of users and co-constructing the experimentation roadmap to optimize UX across all our touchpoints.”
Clarins’ center of excellence encourages teams around the world to share and find inspiration from their experiments. That’s how the US team ended up duplicating EMEA’s “Wheel of Fortune” gamification test (left) for their Mother’s Day campaign (right).
A concrete example of both the collaborative, knowledge-sharing aspects and the adaptability of a global approach across local markets is Clarins’ “Wheel of Fortune” experiment, which leveraged gamification during a key promotional selling period.
With the support of the AB Tasty team, Clarins ran a one-day pop-up offer where customers could “spin the wheel” on their website and win a special offer — a free product or a discount coupon. This discount was then automatically applied to the basket. Here, the Clarins team had developed a clever, engaging offer and coupled it with AB Tasty’s solution, enabling them to easily duplicate experiments across markets and drive conversion and revenue.
Originally rolled out across EMEA for Singles Day, this test saw such strong results (585% increase year over year in revenue for Ireland, alone) that the US Clarins team duplicated it for their own high-season period: Mother’s Day. “Literally, we made the decision in a couple of weeks,” says Marine de Valon, senior director of e-commerce and digital transformation for North America.
With AB Tasty’s dashboard, each market has access to all tests and the resulting engagement data. “AB Tasty allowed all the countries to innovate, create, measure and share experiments, which made a significant impact on our overall global e-commerce,” Marine explained.
Four essentials to building a center of excellence
Building a culture of experimentation goes beyond test execution; it requires heavy knowledge transfer, strategic oversight, and the investment of time and resources alongside the right partner to foster the right mindset. Here are the four things you need:
1. Agility: Equipping the team with scalable processes that allow them to act independently, rapidly test hypotheses, make faster decisions, and pivot quickly should a test prove unsuccessful.
2. Toolbox: Collating guidelines, best practices, examples and outcomes of experiments, and customer data will ensure all teams are equipped to deliver engaging and innovative digital experiences across Clarins’ global e-commerce.
3. Market maturity: Leverage mature, high-growth markets to scale your business by presenting a wealth of test ideas from which other markets can find inspiration and subsequently build their own experimentation roadmap.
4. Community: Fostering the culture of collective experience and knowledge and understanding what’s worked and what hasn’t worked across markets have undoubtedly been a key to the success of Clarins’ digital experimentation strategy.
Delivering innovative experiences with AB Tasty
Clarins has achieved a lot over the past two years partnering with AB Tasty, adopting a considered approach to guard against overexposure and inconsistent messaging to their consumers.
By focusing first on developing testing and experimentation protocols, Clarins has built a template of experiences and overarching guidelines that ensure authenticity as a brand. The last step in this roadmap — grow the community of engaged users — fosters increased collaboration and synergy across teams. But the work with AB Tasty does not end there.
“We want to deliver more innovative brand experiences to our customers, by bringing more entertainment on our website and leveraging gamification in consumer engagement,” Stephanie shares. “Our goal is to push the experimentation program with AB Tasty one step further, to become even more user-centric in how we leverage our data for that one-to-one approach.”
Jacques Courtin launched his namesake company in 1954 in Paris, with a mission to enhance women’s beauty and well-being. Today, Clarins is present in more than 150 countries and 10,000 employees around the world. The French company continues to pursue a long-term vision focused on strong customer relations, continuous innovation, and a commitment to responsible beauty.
DID YOU KNOW?
The team at Clarins are also strong believers of responsible beauty, sourcing only the best ingredients through their love of nature and plants. That’s the story of the Domaine Clarins, which was founded in 2016 in the French Alps to offer a responsible farm-to-jar approach to beauty. The team uses traditional farming techniques and minimal technology to develop the highest quality plant ingredients for consumers.