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The Body Shop boss talks Australian channel strategy

In its 40th year, British beauty brand, The Body Shop, has set itself an ambitious target – to be the world’s most ethical and sustainable global business.

Titled ‘Enrich Not Exploit’, the commitment includes 14 measurable targets to be delivered by 2020, including ensuring 100 per cent of its ingredients are traceable and sustainably sourced, reducing the environmental footprint of its stores every time they are refurbished or redesigned and helping 40,000 economically vulnerable people access work around the world.

The commitment will be communicated to consumers through The Body Shop’s three channels – online, instore staff, and through its direct selling channel, which consists of 4000 independent consultants.

Cathy Seaholme, GM of The Body Shop Australia, told Internet Retailing, The Body Shop’s combination of channels is unique to the market.

“We think they work incredibly well together,” she said. “In a country this big you have to have an e-com presence so you can get to regional locations, but our party plan channel does that as well.”  

She said e-commerce can provide convenience, while the store environment is more consultative.

“I think the key thing for us as a business has always been about the connection with the customer, and that is brought to life most instore or at a party,” Seaholme said.

“E-com is only a very small part of our business. It is growing, but fundamentally we are a bricks and mortar store that makes sure we give customers a choice in how they want to shop with us.

“We would love to see e-com grow to be around 10 per cent of total sales, which we think is achievable. But the challenge for us is our direct selling channel is a massive part of our business as well. Unfortunately it is a very well kept secret, which it shouldn’t be, but it is. So that probably will influence a little bit what the size of the e-com channel could be as a percentage.”  

The Body Shop currently has 89 stores in Australia and a further three are scheduled to open this year. However, Seaholme does not expect the standalone store network will support more than 100 shops as the business strikes a balance between rents and labour costs.

The Body Shop employs around 90 people in head office and warehouse operations and has 700 store staff, which surges to 1200 over Christmas.

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