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Estella Benz, Skin Match Technology: “what users lack when buying cosmetics online are transparency and relevance”

A common misconception about software solutions is that they are just simple apps. But actually, even the simplest-looking tools have complicated architecture, that is not seen by the users.

A simple example would be shopping in a beauty brand online store. It might not look impressive, yet, thousands of components and preferences are being seamlessly scanned by AI algorithms so that relevant suggestions could be made.

Today, the Cybernews team contacted Estella Benz, CEO of Skin Match Technology – a software provider, that cares deeply about the quality, transparency, and relevance of the product – to gain more knowledge about the challenges that come while maintaining eCommerce, how recent events changed online shopping and what could be expected in the future.

Tell us more about the story behind Skin Match Technology. What has your journey been like?

I started ruecinq.com in 2013 as an online shop for luxury cosmetics that provides personalized recommendations based on your unique profile and our product database. We launched an MVP and soon got approached by Retailers to use the same technology. I then decided to use the technology in a B2B approach and co-founded today's company Skin Match Technology Switzerland AG with Robert Baumgartner, my previous developer for ruecinq.com.

By collecting and combining detailed product, ingredient, and consumer data we invested in our own big data network. As a named 3rd Party Software provider, we offer affordable tools for any company size that deliver transparency in product content, personalized service, and ingredients. We empower beauty brands and retailers to truly understand their customers and help deliver an incredible user experience by decoding ingredients and products for them.

Until today we have participated at the Beauty Tech Atelier of L'Oréal in Paris at Station F and are excited to have companies like CAIA, Import Parfumerie, Douglas, IT Cosmetics, and others as our clients.

Can you tell us more about what you do? How is AI incorporated into your solutions?

We are providing software solutions for Beauty Brands and Retail in a B2B2C approach, leveraging digital touch-points online and in-store. Through customization, we are highlighting each brand’s individual strengths while still providing the transparency consumers are looking for.

By decoding thousands of ingredients, collecting in-depth product data, and combining it with consumer needs our proprietary algorithm and AI enables brands to personalize product consultation and seamlessly deliver the requested transparency and make recommendations relevant to consumers.

What would you consider to be the main challenges surrounding the eCommerce landscape these days?

What users lack when buying cosmetics online are transparency and relevance. They get product recommendations without understanding why this product was recommended and are left having to read reviews and product descriptions before making a purchasing decision. By using our customizable product finders we are able to not only recommend an entire personalized routine in the skin, hair, body care, or makeup that works, but also consult each user in their language. By delivering them detailed and personalized reasons for each recommendation they can make a confident purchasing decision based on what is important to them.

Additionally, we can use the profile data to enrich each product detail page by delivering a personalized list of reason-whys for each product while they are browsing more products. It results in up to 30% higher Conversion Rates, 10% more products in each basket, and 30% higher spending on each checkout. We have decoded 39'000 ingredients that allow us to take into account personal preferences, allergies, and sensitivities as well as each skin type in combination with up to 22 different skin care needs, age, gender, pollution, and temperature of the user’s location. Our algorithm was developed with experts in Allergology, Ingredients, and Dermatology to navigate the complexity of consumers’ individuality.

The same data can be used to implement and enrich INCI lists on the product detail page with mouse-over explanations for each ingredient on their source, utility, effect, and usage. Personalized CRM recommendations and EAN-Scanners via any mobile device in-store.

72% of consumers want to know more about the ingredients in products and 57% say they will not buy cosmetics because there is no consultation. (eMarketer). Together we can fill this gap and let consumers experience Estée Lauder products in a personal way with the needed transparency and relevance.

Did the recent global events present any new challenges in your industry? Have you implemented any new features as a result?

The pandemic definitely had an impact on us. During this time Beauty Brands and Retailers realized that Products no longer can be touched in the physical space. And even though we are “back to normal” consumer behavior has changed and online shopping for beauty has increased.

So during that time, we developed a Foundation Shade Finder which allows cross-matching between brands and products to find the most accurate fit. Currently, Brands like IT Cosmetics, DayBird, or GA-DE are using our Shade Finder and others like CAIA and some well-known Retailers are to launch soon.

What other business processes do you hope to see automated or enhanced by AI technology in the near future?

I see a strong need in Trend and Data Analytics, where AI could help in predictions and anomaly detection of consumer behavior.

Why do you think certain companies hesitate to adopt new and innovative solutions?

Pre-Pandemic yes absolutely, many also did not yet see the need to invest in digital. Today the times are different and we see a lot of progress happening.

Talking about new online store owners, what tips would you give to those looking to grow their business?

Keep the website layout simple and call-to-action clear.

How do you think the beauty industry is going to evolve in the next few years?

First off we believe the future success in the beauty industry lies in providing full transparency to consumers. Gone are the days when people slathered just any skincare or makeup product onto their skin without any awareness of the ingredients it contained or how the product was processed. That’s because today’s customer is generally more health and environmentally conscious which spills over into their beauty regimens. Transparency and Clean Beauty are the new authenticities in beauty.

Secondly, we strongly believe in a data-driven future and plan to be one of the key players. So stay tuned.

And finally, what’s next for Skin Match Technology?

We are currently working a lot on streamlining internal processes and building up our team for the next stage of growth. We saw a lot of improvements that can be made so we are able to handle a bigger pipeline – as demand is growing. So, very exciting times ahead.

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