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Direct-sales company DōTerra was created in 2008 to bring aromatherapy and essential oil-based beauty to a mass audience. The category is trending upwards, and DōTerra exceeded $1.5 billion in sales last year, according to the company. However, it has struggled to offer a user experience meeting the expectations of its growing consumer base.

Todd Thompson, DōTerra’s chief information officer, and his global technology team of 200 people have focused their efforts over the past year on consumer-facing technology to complement the company’s 3 million sales representatives, including a forthcoming chat platform in September and a relaunched website in 2018.

Glossy spoke with Thompson about how technology and editorial content play into customer experience, how DōTerra is rethinking how it’s reaching the customer online and what role mobile shopping plays today.

Where are you prioritizing your technology efforts?
Scalability was the focus of my first few years here as CIO, and we were on our heels and working hard to replace our major [technology back-end] systems, like our enterprise resource planning to handle more [sales]. DōTerra is five-times larger now than when I arrived. The number of orders we take per day used to be in the tens of thousands, and now it’s in the hundreds of thousands, and we support 7 million customers a day. For the last year, we have shifted our focus to be more customer-facing [by turning] our focus to the question of what the customer really wants from us and how we can engage with them better: How do we improve the way we take orders? How do we improve the way people sign up to be a customer or a seller? How do we make the [shopping] experience cleaner and smoother? The user experience becomes a strategic driver of revenue, and engagement with the customer sets us apart from other companies.

How are you are trying to improve the customer experience?
We have a number of initiatives going on, like streamlined, one-click ordering, and we have initiatives to uplift the customer experience, like offering transactions [between sellers and customers] via WeChat in China. We also enable our sellers to create shopping carts that are fully populated and send links to customers through Pinterest and other social media platforms. They can say, for example, “If you’re having sleep issues, here are the three or four products you should use.” We see that kind of social selling taking off, and we think there is a lot more we can do there.

What has the role of mobile played in the business over time?
When I arrived in 2014, we had no mobile presence. Our mobile site was also not mobile-responsive. We have invested in creating a mobile-responsive shopping and enrollment site for sellers, and we are building a native mobile app for iOS and Android, which will launch in the U.S. in 2020. We know there are benefits of a native mobile app. We developed an app in 2015, but it was replaced by a mobile responsive site in 2017 in the U.S., and the majority of our customers are using our mobile site; in parts of the world, it’s [around] 80%.

How are selling the idea of aromatherapy to a mass audience?
Content plays a big role in that. Since 2017, we’ve done more video and storytelling, so the customer can understand what the quality of our products and why that matters. Essential oils are becoming more mainstream, but now competition means that there are companies with different qualities, and a huge [percentage] of oils are adulterated.

Technology becomes a crucial vehicle for communicating to a mass consumer, who is less directly connected to us. What we are finding is that sellers are using social media and more online platforms to drive people to DōTerra. That can be great because it does reflect the mainstream quality of the category, but we do need to educate them on who we are.