The online shopping experience should be visually appealing, informative, and easy to navigate.
Make sure there is quality control for packaging so that the customer receives a package that looks luxurious and exciting.
Always be accessible for concerns and feedback, and respond graciously.
As part of my series about the “How To Create A Fantastic Retail Experience That Keeps Bringing Customers Back For More”, I had the pleasure of interviewing GG Benitez, a leading public relations expert at the helm of her own agency. Her dynamic background also includes a highly successful career in pharmaceutical sales and the launch of a notable fashion line. As part of the founding team, she unites her deep expertise in advocating for brands with a personal obsession for healthy self-care to help build Aloisia Beauty from the ground-up. “Taking Aloisia Beauty from concept to an in-demand skin care brand has been one of my most exciting endeavors.”
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
In 2008, I founded GG Benitez & Associates PR, a public relations agency that specializes in publicizing consumer goods and services, particularly in the areas of parenting, beauty, and wellness. Prior to that, I enjoyed a seven-year career and pharmaceutical sales, followed by a four-years growing a line of Mommy-and-Me clothing brand I co-founded which was sold at Nordstrom and Bloomingdales. I gained a lot of sales experience through pharmaceuticals and my fashion brand, but what lead me to public relations was hustling my fashion brand into the press and the celebrity world. I only take on clients that I’m truly passionate about, which definitely contributes to my success as a publicist. About a year and half ago, I was approached with the opportunity to get involved with Aloisia Beauty, a K-Beauty brand authentically produced in a certified lab in South Korea. The brand formulates with only clean, effective ingredients and a layered-step approach to skin care. Once I tried the products, I immediately knew I needed to jump in as a partner.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
The original brand name, Aloisia Marie Beauty, was definitely a mistake. As soon as we launched we quickly learned that it was a mouthful, and no one understood why we had the “Marie” in it. A few months in we decided to drop “Marie,” rebrand, and repackage. It was and expensive undertaking, but we are thrilled with our new name and look, and consumers seem to love the uniqueness of “Aloisia Beauty.”
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I can’t get enough of Shark Tank and the individual sharks. I love watching start-ups pitch themselves and the individual perceptions of each “shark.” It’s interesting to see how entrepreneurs market themselves. One of my current clients, the labeling solutions brand InchBug, was even on an episode and declined an offer from Mr. Wonderful!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think what makes Aloisia Beauty stand out is our commitment to providing consumers with healthy, effective, and affordable skin care, along with transparency in our formulations, and educating the consumer through our blog. Since skin is our largest organ and everything we put on it eventually gets absorbed inside the body, our top priority is making sure every product we formulate helps people address their skin concerns with non-toxic, science-backed ingredients that them look and feel their best. We really want consumers to understand why and how these product work. When we received our first consumer testimonial telling us how our 7-Day Skin Care system transformed her skin, it brought tears to my eyes!
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Learn from mistakes and don’t perseverate over them. I think people get burned out when they dwell on the things they can’t change — it’ exhausting. Instead, I look at all of my experiences, good or bad, as educational and I keep it moving — this is what keeps me feeling motivated!
Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. The so-called “Retail Apocalypse” has been going on for about a decade. The Pandemic only made things much worse for retailers in general. While many retailers are struggling, some retailers, like Lululemon, Kroger, and Costco are quite profitable. Can you share a few lessons that other retailers can learn from the success of profitable retailers?
A seamless online shopping experience, transparency, leveraging social media, and leaning into, instead of resisting, the changes the pandemic has brought with it. Brands like Lululemon have done a great job doing these things.
Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?
Just because something has a lesser price tag, that doesn’t mean they have the same value. Especially with skin care, consumers today do a lot more online research into ingredients and standards. Educating the consumer is what keeps brands ahead of the game. So if a product is less expensive but isn’t formulated with safe, quality ingredients and the consumer is aware of the differences and nuances, chances are they won’t switch just because of cost. Staying top-of-mind through traditional and social media also helps brands maintain relevancy with consumers.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a retail business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Over-extending, trying to take on too much at one time, and branching out too quickly instead of staying in their lane are definitely a few of the top mistakes that can de-rail a start-up. It’s better to stick to one goal, nurture it, and perfect it before growing.
This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business in general and for retail in particular?
Every company should take pride in their customers’ experience. Place yourself in the customer role: what kind of experience do you want during the purchasing process, and also afterward? Problem-solving is the hardest part of customer service — it’s important to have a problem-solving process in place that keeps the experience positive for customers, even if there is a negative situation.
We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
Businesses need to focus on the bottom line, and forget that a little cost spent today to make a customerhappy can translate into much more later. Remember the old adage, “ A happy customer tell one friend, an angry customer tells ten.”
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
We had a customer that ordered several different gift sets for an upcoming event. The items were delivered and one of the gift sets was the wrong item. The customer called to tell us, and we corrected it by sending a new package out, along with a few extras. We also told her keep the item sent in error. She called us again right after the event and thanked us for all the help in correcting the situation so quickly.
A fantastic retail experience isn’t just one specific thing. It can be a composite of many different subtle elements fused together. Can you help us break down and identify the different ingredients that come together to create a “fantastic retail experience”?
A seamless shopping experience, accessible customer service, continued engagement after the purchase has been made, and helping customers to feel good about their purchase all go hand-in-hand to make a fantastic retail experience.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a fantastic retail experience that keeps bringing customers back for more? Please share a story or an example for each.
- The online shopping experience should be visually appealing, informative, and easy to navigate.
- Have a problem-solving process in place.
- Make sure there is quality control for packaging so that the customer receives a package that looks luxurious and exciting.
- Show your customers appreciation through offers and engagement.
- Always be accessible for concerns and feedback, and respond graciously.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Small businesses today paying it forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs would be wonderful.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!