UK retail: 8 ways to make the most out of a £102bn opportunity
LUSH is a handmade cosmetics company, known for creating beautiful body creams, lotions, and bath bombs and also utilizing technology that cuts out the need for packaging (90% of their packaging is recycled, with work underway to banish that final 10%). Technology is also finding its way to the front and center of their approach to business. Payments are one such example, and now, with Adyen, they’re developing their own point-of-sale system.
We were keen to learn more about their approach to tech, sustainability, and of course payments, so we sat down for a chat with their Ethics Coordinator, Alice Dorrington, and Digital Director, Mike West to find out more.
With current forecasts predicting that 91% of plastic isn’t recycled businesses are finally beginning to accept the role they can play in preventing environmental catastrophe. They need to think bold and think big, while keeping their customers happy in an increasingly competitive environment. For LUSH, this has been one of the pillars of their business since the very beginning. And by putting people at the center of their approach to tech, they aim to make sure that they have a positive impact on the environment while adhering to ethical working practices.
“We try to source all of our ingredients through ethical practices and apply that approach to other areas of the business as well. Most recently, we have started applying that same attitude towards the technology we’re using.”
Their approach is to share their learnings rather than be protective of them. They use open-source software across their business and are open to sharing the manufacturing processes of their products if it means other businesses can improve their processes. Alice offers LUSH Lens’ as a case in point:
“LUSH Lens directly contributes to our ethical policy by aiding tech advancements and reducing packaging. Applications of these types of tech can be used for product recommendations across the board and we’d be open to sharing this with other businesses if it helps to reduce waste. We see possibilities for it to be used with food, as an example.”
Sustainability applies not just to LUSH products but equally to the company's processes. In 2016, they were growing fast and expanding both in the UK and overseas. They needed a payment provider with a global reach and who allowed them to accept more payment methods to support their expansion. Mike had a few conversations with the Adyen team to get the ball rolling:
“When we were looking at the till system, knowing that Adyen also worked on the POS side, we thought it would be a good collaboration to use you for our point of sale payments. The payment methods you offer means that we can give more freedom to customers to pay how they would like to pay. And also we have a unified approach then, and are truly omnichannel between our point of sale payments and online.”
Their application of speed and plans to expand globally was exciting for the Adyen team and we understood that LUSH needed a partner they could really trust. The standards they set for themselves needed to match ours:
"Working with the sales teams and account managers has been great. They've helped us get to market with our LUSH Pay solution much quicker than if we had tried to do it ourselves. We have quite aggressive roadmaps, so we needed to work with a provider that could keep up with the pace and also give us ease of integrating and rolling out."
"We’re not the most trusting, but we do trust Adyen."
Since partnering with us in 2016, LUSH has expanded to build its own till system, ‘LUSH Pay’, and began to implement Adyen POS terminals in all of their UK stores, with plans to expand globally.
“We used to work with lots of different POS systems and the problem that we found was that if we wanted to make any changes to the POS, or if we wanted to get data rapidly then we couldn’t do it.”
Since working together on LUSH pay in late 2017, we’ve seen some great results. In December 2017, LUSH processed 240 thousand transactions. In December 2018, that was 1.8 million, an 800% increase.
Mike also adds how a mobile POS has been a great way to combine the expertise of LUSH’s in-store staff, while cutting queues and helping customers:
“We can go to the customer rather than the customer having to queue and come to the till point. This has been especially good at Christmas, where we can queue bust, but also help our less-abled customers, who sometimes might feel intimidated coming to the till point.”
There’s no common consensus as to what the future of retail will look like. Some suggest that the shopping experience will become more automated and AI-led, LUSH believe that great customer service from a human being will remain vital to their business and they question technology for technology’s sake. Alice adds:
“The retail landscape is changing very quickly at the moment.[...] We’re almost at a stage where we don’t necessarily have time to work out what the future of retail is. We just have to start to take a rapid prototype approach to the way we are thinking about retail. So we’ve already started to innovate in what we think could be in-store experiences of the future.”
Examples of this include their Naked Stores in Milan, Manchester, and Berlin, which only sell products without packaging. Or their Shinjuku flagship, that limits water wastage, and uses video to demonstrate the bath bomb experience, rather than via a real-life demonstration.
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