How Lush is applying its longstanding ethics to digital practices
In releasing a new online commerce platform and app, Lush prioritises its customers and digital ethics to create a personalised shopping experience.
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- 22 June 2021
- Reading Time
- 4 minute read
Since originating back in 1995 with one shop in Poole, Dorset, cosmetics retailer Lush has had a long-standing dedication to creating fair produce. Only ever using cruelty-free vegetarian ingredients, 85 per cent of which are also vegan, over the past 25 years Lush has focused on ensuring its business is as ethical as possible. Now, with the release of a new online platform, Lush is placing this ethical focus on its digital aspects.
Product-wise, Lush’s dedication to ethics has included the creation of its first palm oil-free soap, as well as offering regular support to direct action animal rights operations such as Sea Shepherd. Most recently, Lush has also supported The Black Curriculum’s #TBH365 campaign – aiming to ensure that Black history is embedded in the national curriculum – releasing the #TBH365 bath bomb, where 100 per cent of proceeds go towards the cause. With such a consistent level of careful thought into how its products are being made, and who they are in turn supporting, it will come as no surprise that the retailer has spent the past year re-evaluating its digital processes with the same frame of mind. As Lush’s digital director Jack Constantine tells It’s Nice That: “If we’re not happy with an ingredient supply chain, we work closely with relevant suppliers to get it right. Why wouldn’t we do the same for our digital practices?”
A catalyst towards reevaluating Lush’s digital processes began due to Covid-19-related restrictions beginning in March of 2020. Within weeks of temporary store closures being put in place, the retailer released a subscription service for customers, as well as new ways to buy products with a personalised touch via a customisation option. “All of these things came through our e-commerce offering during lockdowns, and we have learnt so much during this time,” adds Jack. The ambition then becomes to create a new, superior customer online experience, “much like our five-star customer service in Lush shops” – a reputation the retailer is famous for. Therefore, several new priorities needed to be discussed to create a platform “that is going to power our in-store and online offering”.
Firstly, the new platform is built using open source technologies to allow Lush control over customer privacy, “to ensure they have the best experience, safe in the knowledge that their data is secure,” explains the digital director. Navigation was then the next point of focus, wanting to “create a more intuitive navigation for our unconventional product range and provide a faster shopping experience for those who want to check out quickly.” Across its website and app, other developments also include an enhanced internal search, improved reviews, notifications about new exclusives and a more seamless checkout experience too. The result is a platform that offers a uniquely personal shopping experience, largely due to Lush taking inspiration from popular curation-led apps like Pinterest, Spotify and Apple Music, rather than e-commerce sites.
A hands-on example highlighting these adaptations can be seen via the Lush app, through Lush Lens in particular. Created by the retailer’s in-house tech R&D team, Lush Lens allows customers to quickly browse fresh, handmade cosmetics in a packaging-free and contact-free shopping experience. And, if you’re looking to learn more about a particular product “simply scan the product with the in-app camera and watch a digital demonstration,” recommends Jack.
To develop these changes Lush chose to work with Saleor, an e-commerce platform most aligned with its code of digital ethics. Firstly, Saleor was able to offer a headless commerce site, which offers “the most flexibility when it comes to the customer experience,” explains Jack, but also met Lush’s commitment to investing in the open source community. This dedication to open source, as mentioned by Jack above, sits as one of the main pillars in Lush’s code of digital ethics, alongside reducing, reusing and recycling existing devices as part of a pledge to ethical hardware, and finally ensuring ethical data is accessible, secure and transparent.
Looking to the future, investing care and creative thought into its digital processes will be a longstanding commitment from Lush. Further ambitions include finding ways to connect shops to its site, “to offer customers the most convenient way of purchasing Lush products,” and ensuring its website is inclusive to all is also a priority. For instance, Jack highlights a vision of having just one website to cater “for all languages, locations and currencies,” he says. And so just as Lush’s products often feel personal and genuinely helpful with a hint of joy, Lush’s digital offering will mirror this continually. “The digital landscape is constantly evolving,” adds Jack, “with that, our digital estate needs to remain up to date.”