Need a beauty fix? Tired of bad customer service and hurried inconclusive advice? Help is at hand! YLC guest writer Sarah Burke-Villén from Write in Danderyd met with Annica Forsgren, a skin therapist and co-founder of Skincity, to find out more about this fast-growing online boutique that is breaking a couple of long-standing archetypes in Swedish business.
If you haven’t heard of Skincity by now, it’s about time you did. From a consumer’s perspective it almost seems like this online professional skin care boutique has effortlessly risen to the top of the market. Behind the scenes is an entirely different and inspirational story.
“Our mission is to spread the knowledge about how to take care of your skin in the very best way…and that is my mission in life. I love this, this is the most fun and interesting thing I can imagine doing and satisfying when you succeed with that”, Annica Forsgren told YLC.
Annica Forsgren launched Skincity together with fellow founder and life partner Mikael Kjellman in 2011, starting with a budget of 3.5 million SEK and 10 brands, from the guest bedroom of their home. With Kjellman’s expertise in e-commerce and business and Forsgren’s experience as a skin therapist and in marketing, PR and design – they make a powerful duo. Today, after 2 moves, they are now located in a 1,000 square metre space with 15 employees and a 60 Mkr budget.
How did they get there in such a short amount of time? You might be expecting me to say perseverance but it takes more than that to climb your way to the top.
Before Skincity opened its doors, Forsgren wrote a blog about skin and skin care, hudspecialisten.se, which was a huge inspiration for the creation of Skincity. The business started with a concept that was completely unique to Sweden, a professional online skin care salon with the personal service you would receive from a skin therapist in a physical salon.
Skincity has taken online customer service to a new level. Between an extensive online skin test, a personal response to the test with in 48 hours, a very thorough skin guide that you can read through on your own, and telephone hours to consult with a skin therapist, they offer the whole package. They wrap all their products in beautiful packaging, include gifts and surprises, have special offers and make it near impossible for the customer to not be able to reach them. If they have not been able to keep their promise and respond to a customer within the 48 hours promised, they do whatever they can to make up for that.
For Forsgren the key thing is to share her knowledge for how one should care for one’s skin and Skincity’s ultimate goal is to strive to give their customers the best customer service alongside the ultimate luxurious shopping experience with expert knowledge from the comfort of the customer’s own home.
“The whole thing of everyone being so nice, personal and professional is one very important key to our success…in addition, we try to surprise our customers all the time—it should be fun to shop here!’
Historically, the success of an online boutique has depended on the customer being able to shop with as few clicks as possible to make it fast and easy. This is where Skincity has toppled the standard and changed the way the online industry thinks, not just in skin care but also in other areas, such as fashion and even eyeglasses.
Their online skin test enables them to get the correct picture of your skin, not the preconceptions that you as the consumer may have in your head or think you see when you look in the mirror.
However, it will take you a good 10 minutes to answer the 20 or so questions they ask. The extensive test has met criticism and when developed they were told that they had no idea what they were doing. An online test, it was said, should involve a maximum of 5 questions and then be answered with an automated reply. However, this idea really butted heads with Forsgren’s fierce attention to detail and customer service. She wants her customers to come away with the products best matched to their skin type.
However, Forsgren was adamant that they were going to proceed with the test her way and now finds that customers love it. Customers want to share more details and they do. Now her test is used as a model for other industries, like fashion (where you can match your clothes with your nail polish and hair color) or when buying glasses (to pick frames and lenses). Forsgren reveals that this test is also very good for business as the average checkout price for the customers who have taken the skin test is typically much higher than for those who don’t. It seems to be a win-win situation for both Skincity and their customers. The more successful Skincity is, the more satisfied, pampered and happy their customers are.
In addition to Forsgren’s blog, Hudspecialisten.se, Skincity is on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and they send out a newsletter twice a week with tips and recommendations.
According to Forsgren, Skincity’s primary focus lies in Sweden and they see room to grow and develop in this market. At Skincity they feel that it is really important to reach the expat community of Sweden and they took a huge step by buying their skincity.com site (having launched with the Swedish site skincity.se) and translating the entire site to English.
Their next step will be to translate their bi-weekly newsletter and have Forsgren’s blog translated into English. But they are still a relatively new company and things must be allowed to take time. As with everything Forsgren does, she wants it done properly and with quality. She wants to give the English-speaking customer Skincity’s very best. Watch this space!
Write in Danderyd