The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it chaos as it swept across the globe. Businesses came to halt and companies were faced with forced closures. However, companies already well versed in the e-commerce sphere, had a different story to tell. The leading beauty and self-care brand, Feel22, is one such company.
BDD spoke with Maurice Mattar (MM), CEO of Feel22, about his experience on navigating through COVID-19, notable consumer trends and how the business adapted to the crisis.
BDD: How has COVID-19 impacted Feel22's business?
MM: Since the start of the crisis, we have been seeing traffic and sales levels that we usually see during Black Friday sales. It's a very exciting time to be in e-commerce but also challenging. Our operations team has to manage huge volumes of orders, while keeping up with the safety measures.
BDD: Have you seen any consumer trends since the lockdown started?
MM: We're seen important changes such as higher average basket sizes and an increase in credit card usage. Both these factors result from customers wanting to minimize contact with the delivery provider. These are deemed two key metrics for the success of e-commerce stores.
BDD: How have you adapted your e-commerce model during these times?
MM: People tend to forget that e-commerce doesn't happen in the cloud and that the back-office operations are huge. We've had to take all sanitary precautions to ensure the safety of our staff in the warehouse, as well as the safety of our customers.
We have also had to adapt our catalogue to suit the current demand. Since people are staying in, we have seen a drop in two leading categories: Makeup & Fragrances. On the other hand, products from categories that can be used at home, saw a spike in sales such as personal care, nail care, hair care and electrical tools. Some of the products in these categories were also recently added. With most beauty salons and hairdressers closed, our customers became their own hairdressers and are taking more personal care of themselves.
BDD: What are the challenges you are facing?
MM: Cross-border logistics and some imports were affected due to less frequent flights. We are focusing on domestic e-commerce for the moment.
BDD: What opportunities do you see in the health and beauty segment?
MM: Customers are taking their health more seriously with an increase in demand for immunity products. I expect an increase in DIY at home solutions, whether for beauty products or even filming equipment. Of course, we're going to see video tutorials from customers, at an even higher rate than before.
BDD: Are there any notable moves taken by Feel22 as a response to the crisis?
MM: Alongside adapting our catalogue, we added sanitization products, such as hand sanitizer - which quickly became a top seller. We also now offer payment by debit card on delivery, with customers requesting contactless deliveries.
As with all businesses operating in Lebanon and globally, adapting to the changing market trends is integral for survival and growth. E-commerce stores have been the fastest to adapt to the implications of the COVID-19 crisis, and Feel22 serves as a prime example of how promptly responding to market needs can boost business activity.