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Benefit is a cosmetics brand with localized websites in dozens of countries. As they’ve grown, so has the challenge of managing content on all of them. Benefit's team chose Optimizely (Episerver) to centralize the management of their sites within one application. They selected Guidance, an Optimizely Partner Agency, to manage the replatforming and help them freshen up their visuals.
In 1976, two sisters from Indiana founded a makeup and brow waxing shop in San Francisco. Today, Benefit Cosmetics has locations in 59 countries across five continents. Their business is predicated on helping women look good but their success is built on making women feel good. As Benefit likes to say: “Laughter is the best cosmetic.” That upbeat attitude shines through everywhere you'll find them, from the makeup counters of department stores to their diverse global web presence.
In many ecommerce replatforming projects, the company that's looking to migrate from one platform to another will rely on an agency to evaluate the options and make a recommendation that best suits the company's business needs.
In the case of Benefit, however, that process was reversed. Internally, they had already evaluated their options and decided that Optimizely (Episerver) was the way to go. The next step was to determine which agency would get them there. Guidance was one of the agencies Optimizely (Episerver) recommended to Benefit, on the strength of our capabilities with the Optimizely (Episerver) platform and our successful history with beauty and fashion brands.
But it wasn't just Guidance's technical track record that won Benefit over. Unlike other agencies, Guidance began by looking at the project from a customer engagement standpoint. That resonated with Benefit, because they see themselves not just as a cosmetics company, but as a lifestyle brand. The thrust of all of their marketing is to create engagement and turn it into action, as a large part of their business involves driving potential customers to brick-and-mortar locations where Benefit’s products and services are sold.
Fulfilling a customer journey like that requires the technology perspective as well as the creative and UX/UI perspective, collaborating to create a robust solution. So it was only natural, after Benefit selected Guidance for the project, that the two companies would engage in a true partnership from start to finish, where Guidance designers worked as an extension of Benefit's design team, and where Benefit's in-house developers integrated with the Guidance development team.
Benefit has a fun and unique brand, and an aesthetic to match. The replatforming to Optimizely (Episerver) also opened up the possibility of revisiting and refreshing the site designs, which Benefit began in-house. They created designs that the Guidance team revised and polished to make them developer-ready. As the work progressed, Guidance collaborated with the Benefit team to build best-practice workflows, a master library of components, and a style system that would streamline their design process for the future.
“This is not the finish line. This is the start tosomething bigger.”
It's one thing to go from a developer-ready design to an actual developed site. But when there will be 42 variations of the same site, each with their own localized content and featured products, with different languages on many of them, and actual ecommerce functionality on only a few of them, the development solution needs to be just as creative in its own way as the design that it's going to replicate. And it has to make things as easy as possible for content managers, too.
Guidance developers created content blocks that, although complicated on the back end, eliminated the need to perform any coding in order to deploy changes to the live site. Content editors need only to choose which blocks to display in which locations, populate content, and manage languages. These complex and flexible content blocks simplify content management and display, increasing the Benefit team's efficiency whenever they decide to change the look and feel of the site.
One of the reasons Benefit chose Optimizely (Episerver) as their new platform is Optimizely's (Episerver) powerful capability around content management, and how that would enhance the experience of Benefit's customers. It would also, as it turned out, enhance the experience of Benefit's content editors and creators as well.
Content management was a particularly difficult aspect of their business on their previous platform. They were unable to make localized changes to sites in an efficient way. Optimizely (Episerver) solved one piece of that puzzle, thanks to workflows within the platform that enabled increased autonomy for their regional commerce and content teams.
From a technology standpoint, one of the ways this comes to fruition in the new sites is the Brow Try-On feature. It's a third-party integration which lets customers preview different looks with uploaded photos, or with augmented reality (AR) using their device's camera. Shaping and shading products chosen via Brow Try-On can be purchased at brick-and-mortar locations in most cases, or directly online via shopping cart integrations for the 4 sites that do perform ecommerce business.
Another of the perks of consolidating control of the Benefit product catalog within one instance of Optimizely (Episerver) is the ability to easily make changes to a product across as many websites and languages as necessary, in one fell swoop. Instead of making updates to a product on a site-by-site basis like they did on their previous platform, the Benefit team can log into one centralized location, make changes to the product they want to change, select the affected languages, and they’re done.
With so many localized websites, the question of language translation becomes a very relevant business challenge. With the replatforming to Optimizely (Episerver), Guidance deployed a third-party plugin from Smartling to handle automated translations for Benefit's content and product pages.
Guidance then developed customized functions to support Benefit’s complex language needs, including options for fallback languages, accommodation for right to left (RTL) languages such as Arabic, and a codex to support non-content driven text and labels.
Guidance replatformed 42 websites within one instance of Optimizely (Episerver) for Benefit, deploying a content block solution that simplifies their content management and allows for easy product updates across multiple languages.
The project supported Benefit's goals to increase customer engagement and enhance their reputation as the #1 brow brand worldwide.
Benefit retained Guidance for a replatforming project that included the migration of dozens of localized websites across 5 continents. Content management of those sites had been a particular challenge for Benefit, and the solution needed to account for multi-language content presentations.
While partnering with Benefit's in-house design and development teams, Guidance created custom blocks within Optimizely (Episerver) that are complex, but also allow content admins to create the front-end without coding, choosing which blocks to display, and managing all their languages within one centralized interface.
With additional plugins and integrations, and updated URL structuring, Benefit now has a more efficient and engaging system in place for showcasing their products.
Gold Winner - Best User Interface
Silver Winner - General - Beauty and Cosmetics
Silver Winner - Best Virtual or Remote Experience