Sapna Parikh is a dynamic fireball and the executive director of digital and e-commerce for the Clarins Group. The Clarins Group is a global premier French luxury skincare, cosmetics and fragrance company that manufactures and sells its products through leading stores across the globe. It is still a privately held family business that was started by Jacques Curtin-Clarins in 1954. The company has grown rapidly since its founding.
Sapna at the TransPerfect Retail Forum, where she made a superb presentation about her current assignment. Her background is impressive. She founded the company StyleBell and subsequently revamped Avon’s digital experience. Then, about one and a half years ago, she joined Clarins Group as head of digital experience for their North America Region, which includes the United States, Mexico and Canada. That is quite an assignment, since each of these countries has its own customs and habits, and the Clarins message has to resonate with potential customers in each country.
Digital marketing came into its own about 2005 when some savvy e-commerce people leveraged SEO. It enabled some companies to place their Google message ahead of other companies and gain a competitive edge. It was the beginning of a digital future for retail. Of course, today everyone is wiser about using SEO and AI. SEO optimizes localized marketing efforts, boosts brand visibility, and deepens customer engagement. It can be used in every country by local agents who have been trained and coached by the home office. The ability to localize marketing is very useful since 72% of all internet users do not speak English. For instance, 90% of European shoppers browse in their own language, 85% of consumers are distrustful and will not buy in a foreign language, and 56% say the language is more important than price.
I asked Sapna about the future. Where will be we in 2025? Despite her reluctance to predict the future, she did share a few thoughts. She feels that stores will always be important to service customers. It is the digital experience that will add business in the industry. She believes that expansion of digital and e-commerce depends on the support of the chief executive since it requires additional expenditures by a company. Sapna sees more local marketing on e-commerce and considers that a very positive thing.
Sapna also feels that although it is difficult for luxury brands to see themselves on Amazon, the fact is that Amazon has a massive database of highly influential customers. Sapna has used Amazon since 2005, since data about their customers is vital and useful. All brands should be thoughtful and carefully analyze the opportunities. Walmart is a more difficult partnership to commit to as it has a historical reputation for being the king of mass-produced items at a low price, and that may not be in line with a brand’s image. Sapna continued by saying that in this fast-moving, uber competitive market, the industry leaders should always be scanning the market for new opportunities.
Digital commerce produces a lot of data that can be useful to marketers. The challenge is to use the information wisely and, with international privacy laws, judiciously. By knowing your customer in each country, retailers can cater to each customer and give them a much more personalized experience. That personalized engagement is what will shape the future of retail.