Aug 16, 2022

How Henkel is growing through e-commerce in the B2B sector

Click, buy, repeat – delivering professional haircare products to salons and stylists in North America

In this story, you will learn

Paying bills online, ordering food, and browsing for clothes. Online shopping and the rise of e-commerce offers are certainly no novelty. But with limited opportunities to shop in-store during a global pandemic, even the most hesitant of consumers and customers were compelled to take their shopping online. And for the most part, they are not looking back.

Young woman dressed in black carrying boxes with SALONORY logo.

More and more salon professionals and stylists turn towards online solutions to restock their products.

For hair stylists especially, the increased availability of e-commerce offers can be extremely attractive. Driving to salon supply stores to restock their favorite and most trusted salon items is an essential part of the job. But with customers coming and going during business hours, this task is often moved to afterhours, adding an extra task to the to-do list before some well-deserved recreational time. Hence, it is no surprise that salon professionals and stylists also turn towards online solutions. What is already standard practice in consumers’ households, is becoming increasingly relevant in the B2B sector. “Market research experts at Gartner predict that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will happen on digital channels,” explains Nils Daecke, Digital Information Officer for Beauty Care at Henkel dx. “With SALONORY, Henkel is meeting this trend for salon owners and haircare professionals.” Now, instead of driving to the store after closing their shops, salon owners and stylists can go online during lunch break or in between clients to restock products, which saves a lot of time.

A customized digital one-stop-shop solution

Launched in May 2021, SALONORY is Henkel’s first multi-brand B2B direct e-commerce platform for salon owners and independent stylists in North America. And the name stands true. SALONORY offers a wide range of salon haircare brands by Henkel, providing a direct shopping experience exclusively for the professional hair stylist community in the U.S. From hair colors, lighteners to luxurious after-care products – with more than twelve Henkel Beauty Care Hair Professional brands and over 1600 products it is a one-stop-shop solution and much more.

The e-commerce platform combines a large variety of brands all in one place whereas previously customers had to visit separate online shops for each brand. Beyond bringing together the business’ professional hair brands conveniently in one place, it also pioneers new sales models like live shopping events, offers free education as well as articles and tips for salon owners to grow their business. The platform is tailored to the specific needs of salon owners and haircare professionals and is taking the task of restocking salon products from being a chore to an enjoyable experience.

“We know customers expect more personalized and relevant experiences from brands and retailers today. SALONORY gives us the opportunity to meet their changing needs and expectations,” says Tanuja Singeetham, Head of Regional Digital Marketing and the U.S. e-shop, Henkel North America.

Tanuja Singeetham, Head of Regional Digital Marketing and the U.S. e-shop, Henkel North America

We know customers expect more personalized and relevant experiences from brands and retailers today. SALONORY gives us the opportunity to meet their changing needs and expectations.

The platform leverages data insights to provide a personalized shopping experience. Product recommendations are tailored to unique needs and preferences, a concierge service assists in real-time, and a members rewards program offers exclusive deals. “We established SALONORY to become the go-to place for haircare professionals in the U.S. Clients trust their stylists to help them look and feel their best. In turn, our customers are searching for brands they can trust to bring their business to the next level. SALONORY allows us to build long-lasting, trusted relationships between buyer and seller,” explains Tanuja.  

How live shopping is disrupting e-commerce

“What makes the multi-brand platform a unique place for relationship-building for the professional haircare industry are the experiences that bring customers and brands closer together,” says Tanuja. One of these experiences are so-called live shopping events.

Livestream shopping – or live shopping – first became popular in China, the country with the largest number of online shoppers in the world. An influencer or celebrity goes live on a social media app and demonstrates, tests, and rates products for followers and audiences. Paired with exclusive promotions and money-saving-opportunities for the viewers, the event encourages increased purchases while watching the livestream. Sometimes additional elements of gamification are thrown into the mix to heighten the experience and foster viewer participation. In recent years brands, starting with Amazon, started shifting to hosting the events themselves to control the experience and link it closer to their online stores.

To leverage this trend, SALONORY hosts regular live shopping events, that give salon professionals and stylists the opportunity to see products being put to the test. They can ask questions as they watch the product perform and decide in the moment to benefit from special offers to purchase the products or win gift cards in surprise live giveaways.

SALONORY pioneers new sales models like live shopping events

SALONORY pioneers new sales models like live shopping events, offers free education as well as articles and tips for salon owners to grow their business

Building an e-commerce ecosystem: How D2C creates a competitive edge for companies

The decision to sell directly to consumers or customers (D2C) holds implications for manufacturing companies that go beyond the mere choice of the right sales channel. “When you go the D2C route, you are responsible for the complete end-to-end solution: from production and packaging to logistics, shipping, and after sales services,” says Mark Kretschmann, Global Head of B2B e-shops for Beauty Care Professional at Henkel dx. D2C requires a holistic approach. Therefore, a cross-functional project team within Henkel worked closely over the course of one year to bring SALONORY to life. “The online shopping world is complex and changing by the minute,” explains Mark. “That’s why we chose an agile project set-up to be able to react and adapt quickly to changes and anticipate trends.”

What did not change, however, was the guiding principle and strategic approach: Putting customers first. “When we designed SALONORY, we put ourselves in the shoes of hairdressers. What is it they need? What are they looking for? That is how we originally started and are continuing to build on our digital offers: Not by choosing the right technology first but by defining the desired experience we want to offer,” adds Nils.

Nils Daecke, Digital Information Officer for Beauty Care at Henkel dx

When we designed SALONORY, we put ourselves in the shoes of hairdressers. What is it they need? What are they looking for? That is how we originally started and are continuing to build on our digital offers: Not by choosing the right technology first but by defining the desired experience we want to offer.

And while being responsible for all steps of an end-to-end solution is challenging, it also creates opportunities. SALONORY’s concierge service is a great touchpoint to collect direct customer feedback. By hosting the shopping platform, the team gets direct digital data insights into the buyers’ shopping behavior and can adapt its market strategies faster while also closely tailoring them to buyers’ needs. Loyalty can also be rewarded directly through a rewards points program. And lastly, offering a multi-brand platform allows for greater discovery: “You want to be where customers are and offer meaningful experiences,” explains Tanuja. “And today’s customers expected to be rewarded for their loyalty.  By having a large marketplace of brands, we are able to offer a valuable loyalty program, which we call SALONORY Pro Rewards.” While previously, online shop solutions were merely focusing on the transaction, the new e-commerce platform offers the chance to make recommendations, opportunities for upselling and cross-selling, and overall, a set-up that leverages data science to enhance brand and customer interactions now and in the future.

The digital foundation of SALONORY is built for growth. Based on Henkel’s customized digital platform RAQN, the e-commerce shop can leverage insights along the marketing funnel, offer tailored customer experiences, and provide a digital set-up that has an accelerated time-to-market, as it can easily be rolled-out. Today already, the Professional e-shop has been rolled-out to more than 20 markets in Europe and North America with more regions to follow.