468 Retail and Channel Management Blog

Monday, March 13, 2017

The FACESHOP: When too much Change can be a Bad Thing



      There has been an increasing growth in popularity for Korean beauty products in Western markets. With only a few select Korean products available through small local shops, the only other alternative was to shop online with costly shipping fees. So you can imagine the excitement that I felt when The Faceshop arrived! The fact that they are one of the first Korean Beauty chain stores to arrive in Canada provides an advantage for them. However, with just a few years in acquiring Fruits & Passion, problems are already visible in stores.

Atmospherics
      The Faceshop strives to portray a feeling of having high-quality products while being down-to-earth, and emphasizes on the idea of natural beauty. There is usage of bright white lighting that reflects off of the white shelving and fixtures, making the store feel clean and pristine. The playful green accents throughout the store tie in the nature aspect and the always present multi-coloured display of nail polishes pulls you in—a quick peek at something small wouldn’t hurt right? Once you step in there is upbeat, cheerful music playing through the speakers at the back of the store. The shelves are filled with a variety of products, all arranged nicely and an attempt is made to be categorized based on functionality.


      However the excitement seems to wear off due to the lack of consistency in maintaining the upkeep of the store. Flickering lights, chipped fixtures, inaccurate price tags and the constant rearranging of products dims the shopping experience. There were a couple of occasions when I went in and there was a sharp and overwhelming pine cleaner smell that made customers leave after entering in for a couple of minutes. 

      The Faceshop utilizes the transition zone well in the sense that the higher-ended skincare products are placed on the right where people have a natural tendency to turn to. But once again counter-productivity occurs sometimes with the abundance of signage and display tables in awkward locations that disrupts the flow in the store.


Shopper experience
      Faceshop's target segments are focused on 20 to 40 year old women. With not much promotion or brand awareness in Canada, the Faceshop seems to rely heavily on the unplanned shoppers to meet sales in their brick and mortar stores. But even more so they seem to solely rely on their products to help them retain their customers. However, Faceshop has been facing frequent stock-outs—some lasting as long as 8 months at a time—and numerous product lines that seemed to suddenly disappear after making an appearance for one year. It has caused many customers to leave as their promises to be called back when stock is replenished are not met.

      I personally have experienced a 100% interception rate by employees. Although the employees are eager and always available to help, I found they followed-up too frequently and were often pushy with recommendations. This made my shopping experience very stressful, and felt a lack of expertise and interest in meeting my needs.


      Overall, it will be interesting to keep an eye on Faceshop as they need to decide how to move forward from either: focusing on the bottom-line or trying to understand what their customers want out of their shopping experience. Will Faceshop's reliance on its quality of products be enough to retain customers or do shoppers value the shopping experience more?

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