Dr. Barbara Sturm is putting its DTC e-commerce business front-and-center, as it grows from a cult beauty favorite into a mainstream enterprise.

The 13-year-old Dr. Barbara Sturm company began working on its new website six months ago, and it officially launched in August. The domain name was previously MolecularCosmetics.com, but is now DrSturm.com. Although the website relaunch and improvements were planned before the onset of Covid-19, the pandemic has pressured many brands to reinvest both attention and money to improving e-commerce capabilities and other digital touchpoints. Since mid-March, Dr. Barbara Sturm’s DTC e-commerce has grown approximately 400%, said Sturm, but she but declined to break out DTC vs. retail figures. The brand is also sold through retailers like Violet Grey, Net-a-Porter and Sephora, among others. In addition, it has its own store in New York City and a clinic in Dusseldorf, Germany. The brand earned $15 million in sales in 2018, and sales have grown 300% year-over-year since 2016, according to previous Glossy reporting.

Sturm said, for the relaunch, the brand focused predominantly on beefing up the site’s education and customer service. On the front end, the new website offers a live chat functionality for customers to receive skin-care consultations 24/7. There is also a menu bar listing specific routines, allowing customers to immediately understand what products work for 10 skin-care types, such as sensitive skin and darker skin tones. Each routine features a specific set of products with a step-by-step application guide. There was also a series of design, user experience and merchandising changes to make the customer experience as “pleasant and engaging as possible,” Sturm said. For example, there are now clear and easy-to-navigate categories, as well as detailed product pages with video content. The website focuses heavily on videos overall, including free digital masterclass and a skin school series for teenagers under its Discover menu tab.

“My goal is to provide education and make knowledge and facts about science, skin care and wellness accessible to all. Masterclasses and Skin Schools have allowed me to do that on a weekly basis and engage during lively dialogues with my global customers,” she said. “Especially during the lockdown, these digital gatherings provide a virtual community and an important educational platform about self-care.”

With this type of rapid sales growth, it makes sense the brand is trying to scale its other operations. According to August data from IBM’s U.S. Retail Index, the pandemic has accelerated the shift away from physical stores to digital shopping by approximately five years. Sucharita Kodali, Forrester analyst, said traditional retail is shrinking, and marketplaces are risky because of the prevalence of gray market goods, which can be especially dangerous where skin-care products are involved.

“All brands have left is their owned storefronts,” she said. “It’s important to control the gray market, to have discipline and consistency around pricing, to have a free shipping policy of some sort, and to have great post-transaction support and money-back guarantees for new digitally native companies that people haven’t tried before.”

On the backend, the DrSturm.com website systems and architecture were developed to enhance and tailor messaging to customers, as well as be mobile optimized. Accord to Sturm, traffic from mobile and tablet devices increased by 22% on the new website, compared to the desktop and mobile split on the original website.

The new website also introduced a menu bar section called, “The Candy Shop” which offers all of the Dr. Barbara Sturm products in travel sizes. Full-size products range from $55-$800. Since the new website launched, the Candy Shop is the second-most-popular landing page destination after the homepage, in terms of site traffic.

The Candy Shop is a great way for a new customer to [affordably and] efficiently explore the brand, or for existing customers to try my new inventions. The Candy Shop name perfectly reflects the sweet, mini-sized products – which you can easily pick and mix,” said Sturm.