Folica.com is an online beauty retailer that is achieving success through the implementation of a unique business model that includes ecommerce, branded product development and online community. The site has evolved from a relatively small e-retail catalogue to a rather large site with a wide range of product classifications and categories. Customer reviews have played a crucial role in growing the business in the face of such beauty behemoths as Avon, Sephora and Mary Kay. Staff of Folica.com requested this site review.
Obtaining online customers involves two key steps. First, you need to attract the right prospects to your site, then you need to convert these prospects into loyal and happy customers. Let’s see how Folica.com does.
Qualified prospects must first find your website, and once at your site, it must be easy for them to locate the products they are seeking.
We conducted a range of relevant searches in Google. The site ranked very well for common product-related phrases such as “hair straightener” and was often ranked number one, beating Amazon. The site did not rank quite so well for need-based search terms such as “hair straightening.”
The on-site search was easy to locate and produced above-average results for customers. The search box could benefit from some extra design treatment though, such as increased size, color and contrast, just to make it a little more prominent. In addition, a number of minor enhancements could make search perform better for customers, such as making sure the search phrase is maintained in the search box.
Design and Aesthetics
Website visitors usually take just two to three seconds to decide whether to stay or leave. If the first impression is poor, you can lose customers for life. Overall, Folica.com provides a very positive first impression with a high-quality feel, excellent use of imagery and a nice open design with good use of white space. The main criticism of the design is that the home page does not feel like a home page. It looks more like a category page with a random list of top-rated products. Prospects entering the site at the home page will be looking for specific products, solutions to their beauty needs or maybe even gift ideas. The home page could be providing improved pathways to relevant content and products.
We also felt that there could be much improvement with landing page experiences at Folica.com, as they generally lack persuasion. For example, even though Folica.com does great in Google search results, the landing pages have no clear pathways for guiding customers to next steps. There are no immediate information on price savings through Folica.com or any primary calls to action.
Ease of Use
Overall, we found Folica.com easy to use and ranked above average. The site provides useful product suggestions and clear product descriptions. The site loaded quickly, and the checkout process was good.
There were a few issues, though. For example, when shipping to a country outside the U.S., the customer is forced to select a U.S. state. The ‘Bill To (If Different)’ form caused confusion as the customer is forced to fill it in, even if he or she wants to bill and ship to the same address. Also, the customer is forced to provide personal details before being shown the complete and final transaction cost. This is poor practice and could be a big turn-off for prospective customers.
The user-generated content and testimonials at Folica.com are highly persuasive and a key aspect its success.
However, to convert well a site needs to encourage movement towards conversion goals and also needs to respond well to customer questions at the point of need. Folica.com provides a variety of guides to help persuade customers on choosing the right product, but there is little consistency, and they feel somewhat separated from the rest of the site. There are also some great resources for “need” scenarios (such as “straighten hair”), but they are not easily found and uncomprehensive. We think Folica.com could leave prospective customers feeling more overwhelmed than satisfied.
A useful persuasive tool is to encourage immediacy through things like scarcity and limited time offers. Folica.com has some products that feature a “limited timer offer” notice, but details and transparency of the offer are not clear and therefore not very effective.
On-site promotion can be an effective method to increase sales and order values. However, done poorly it can be a real turn-off. Folica.com makes reasonably good use of promotional opportunities, especially on the home page and category pages. The seasonal and category-related promotions are persuasive and high quality.
The “Best of Folica” emblem is an effective promotional tool, although we felt it was a little over-done in places, as there were often three or more competing “Best” products in the same category.
Folica.com could be doing better with up-selling and cross-selling. We found no evidence of up-selling, and the cross-selling was not very effective, as the related products were not clearly related to the product being viewed other than being in the same category.
Safety and Trust
Consumers need to feel safe and otherwise trust the company they are engaging with before they will buy. As such, how an online store handles transaction security and credibility is very important.
We rated this site highly for security and trust. There is good transparency with the ability to contact a customer representative and a strong more-than-10 year history (since 1997). The site has a good “About Us” page and provides good options for customers to get in touch with the company and to place feedback. The site is very strong on the credibility of testimonials, and these work well to establish trust in the company and its products. The site provides text-based testimonials, before and after photos and even video testimonials that appear sincere and genuine. Some transparency on how the testimonials are selected would be helpful.
Folica.com provides sections with each product where customers can enter customer reviews, tips and advice and general questions and answers for a product. This really helps establish credibility and trust for prospective customers.
We also found that Folica.com provides a good sense of transactional safety. There are various messages and images promoting the security and safety of transactions, and these all appear genuine and trustworthy.
Folica.com is clearly a successful and highly credible e-retailer and scores highly. However, the site is missing some marketing and conversion opportunities. Addressing these could make Folica.com even more successful.
Conversion Report Card
Design and Aesthetics B-
Ease of Use C+
Safety and Trust B+
OVERALL GPA B-
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