With the recent launch of its headless technology, clean, clinical skin care brand TULA is already reaping the benefits of higher conversion rates and increased sales thanks to improved page loads and an enhanced user experience on its site. Savannah Sachs, CEO of TULA, talked to CEW Beauty News about the advantages of headless commerce, the brand’s data-driven approach, and how it is maximizing the cost of customer acquisition.

TULA defines itself as both a left-brain and right-brain brand, both data-driven and focused on building emotional connections with consumers. However, with the launch of its new headless technology at the end of September, the clean clinical probiotic brand has been spending much time in the left-brain camp, innovating its website architecture, maximizing data collection, and absorbing the finer points of various metrics.

The term ‘headless technology’ refers to the decoupling of the frontend interface of a website from the backend infrastructure. With headless, brands are responsible for building their own frontend (or ‘head’). TULA made the decision to ‘go headless’ earlier this year and develop the technology in-house.

“Traditionally in e-commerce, you work with a partner like Shopify Plus, and they create the end-to-end e-commerce experience. We decided to stay on Shopify Plus for the backend, sort of the guts, the pipes, and mechanics side of e-commerce in terms of payments and order fulfillment, and build our own custom front-end. The front-end is what the customer sees, what you’re interacting with. Rather than relying on Shopify Plus for that front-end experience, the way we have in the past, we wanted to innovate and build that custom in-house with our digital and tech teams,” said Savannah Sachs, CEO of TULA.

Headless technology is already paying dividends for the clean clinical, skin care brand.

“Speed is incredibly important, and is one of the biggest reasons we have gone headless,” said Savannah. “By decoupling from Shopify Plus and building our own custom front-end, we can really optimize speed and the customer experience. How quickly your website loads, and how fast your customer can navigate through it, is a huge determinant of performance.”

“Often folks are focused on optimizing their marketing spend, which we do as well. We optimize our digital spend daily, hourly. However, one of the most important, and forgotten, levers to drive performance is improving site conversion and performance. You pay to get traffic to your site, then you need to make the most of it by capturing that customer, making sure that they are not bouncing, and that they are converting. The ROI [from headless technology] is really astronomical in terms of the site performance.”

Indeed, thanks to headless technology, TULA has increased the page load speed for first load by 50 percent, and by five-fold for the second page and beyond. “Site speed is one of the most important things that drives performance, i.e. conversion and sales. We saw a 27 percent improvement in bounce rates,” she said.

TULA is acutely aware of the need to be mobile-friendly as 85 percent of traffic on Tula.com is mobile. Page load speeds are critical, for example, for the customer who may be shopping for skin care products while waiting in line for their café latte, explained Savannah.

Headless technology has also significantly improved TULA’s SEO ranking, in addition to streamlining the user experience and user interface, and reducing the number of clicks on TULA’s skin quiz by about 50 percent. This makes it easier and faster for the customer to navigate the site, making the process more intuitive to click through, and leading to better completion rates.

Headless technology has also enabled TULA to optimize its skin quiz. “With headless, we were able to make sure that our skin quiz is faster and more personalized. We revamped the skin quiz alongside the headless launch, and improved the level of personalization in the results, adding in a lot more data-mapping at the back end, and making sure that the products recommended are really personalized to the individual,” said Savannah.

TULA receives over 500,000 data points from its skin quiz every month. “We really want to make sure that we are taking advantage of all this data that we have with this direct relationship we have with the customer, not only the technical side of the business, but also on the product development side,” she said. To that end, the brand will be further refining its skin quiz in 2022.

TULA has also invested heavily in its A/B testing capability, having hired a full-time team member with expertise in conversion rate optimization. The brand runs between three to seven A/B tests on its site at any given moment. Traffic is divided, and shown two different versions of the site, with the brand gauging what does better in terms of conversion and metrics throughout the funnel. The brand has tested where to place reviews on the product page (either at the top or below the fold/scroll), what products it should recommend when visitors reach the site, and it has even tested language. For example, whether to call kits routine kits, routine bundles or value sets. “We A/B test all these things in terms of the site experience, and how we are marketing TULA and our products. Over time, we can optimize little improvements that add up to big, meaningful performance changes,” said Savannah.

TULA has a team of 124 employees; 35 people (and counting) work on the D2C side of the business, which includes the brand’s in-house tech team, and encompasses engineers, digital product and UX/UI experts who partner closely with TULA’s in-house data team. “D2C is not only our top channel at around 50 percent of our revenue this year, but also a core capability in how we think about the magic that is the rapid growth we’ve been able to drive at TULA,” she said.

TULA is poised to recruit customers into prestige skin care, and expand their investment in their self-care routine, especially millennials (who currently comprise 60 percent of the brand’s customer base). “We are uniquely positioned within entry prestige. It’s this idea of recruiting up from mass and masstige and deepening our customer’s engagement with skin care. A quarter of our customers are trying new products for the first time. Maybe they don’t have an eye product in their routine, or they don’t use a toner or have a serum. TULA offers clean and clinically effective solutions for every step of your routine. We have the clinical credibility and science-backing of a doctor-founded brand, and the modern appeal of a clean brand,” said Savannah.

What’s in store for the future? “We feel like we are just getting started. In the US, we just have 18 percent brand awareness. It is incredible to have a really exciting, scaled brand in business, and yet only just be getting started, and scratching the surface of how much we can grow.”