User-Generated Content Powers E-Commerce Destination See New Skincare

Does a product picture get you to purchase skincare? Probably not, but seeing others try it could, right? Realizing that, See New Skincare is turning to skincare consumers to supercharge its sales and marketing.

The skincare, wellness, and bath and body care e-tailer is integrating user-generated content (UGC) across its product detail pages during the second and third quarter of this year. CEO and co-founder Austin Trefts believes the integrated short-form videos will boost customer loyalty and conversion on the platform as it brings social proof and commerce close together.

“By incorporating UGC, we’re able to bring relatability and authenticity to the brands and products we curate on See New,” he says. “This gives us a competitive edge that will elevate both our platform and the brands we work with…We’re really showing the use of the product, and we’re finding that that’s really inspiring customer conversion.”

Aimed at gen Z consumers, See New stocks 350 products from 41 emerging brands such as Monks, Earth Harbor Naturals, Furtuna Skin, Henua, Luxe Botanics, Plume, Skin Essence and Nuele. It taps Adit, the retail matchmaking service owned by Beauty Independent parent company Indie Beauty Media Group, for help in sourcing brands like Ameon Skin, Apoterra, Coconu, Palma de Salus and Aremes Fermentis. 

Video content for the site will be produced and integrated by Brand Rich Studios, a UGC, branding and web design firm that Trefts and his See New co-founder and partner Bryn Gabriel run as a separate business. Trefts refers to the style of content it specializes in as curated UGC, a hybrid between editorial-style videos and consumer-made videos that Brand Rich is piloting under a product called IRL. 

Early clients that have utilized IRL, including Anantara Hotels in Thailand, Mazda, W Dallas and Hydrate IV Bar, have experienced a 29% increase in conversion on their e-commerce sites, according to Trefts. He’s hoping to replicate that advancement with its incorporation into See New’s product detail pages. 

See New brand partners interested in licensing IRL video content have to participate in the e-tailer’s Growth Accelerator Program rolling out in March. For a monthly fee of $500, they’ll access a suite of marketing tools such as quarterly influencer campaigns, prioritized placement in paid digital advertising and education on UGC strategy implementation. Brands that choose not to sign up can remain on See New, but won’t be guaranteed placement in its marketing campaigns. 

See New is the latest e-tailer to merge UGC and e-commerce shopping together. Livestreaming apps Flip and Supergreat build troves of product review videos for shoppers to peruse. Brands are mixing in UGC, too. Tower 28, Eadem and PYT Beauty have placed short-form videos on their product detail pages to demonstrate product application and convey how customers are weaving their products into their routines. 

Beauty and wellness e-commerce platform, See New Skincare
Online beauty and wellness retailer See New Skincare will soon start integrating user-generated content onto its platform to boost customer loyalty and conversion.

Since 2020, wellness has been on the upswing at See New as skincare has been on the downswing. Sexual wellness oils and lubricants, ear seeds and facial cupping devices from brands like Coconu and WTHN are gaining traction. In addition, supplements and mushroom tinctures from brands like Ora Organics and Rainbo are flying off the virtual shelves. See New’s average order value is $65, and customers are returning to it to purchase at least three times a year.

In an ingestible category that many beauty retailers have yet to crack effectively, Trefts attributes See New’s success to its social media-driven gen Z customers, who often extensively research the products prior to buying them on its site. “There’s a lot of available information online, and I think it’s easier to convert customers that way,” he says. “They’re not necessarily needing to see, feel or touch the ingestibles to get an idea of their benefits.”

See New started in 2018 as a bimonthly subscription box that introduced consumers to clean and sustainable indie skincare brands. It branched into e-commerce two years later, and lifestyle and wellness brands joined its roster around then as well.

By mid-2022, See New’s subscription business was in trouble as small brands struggled to fulfill orders due to rising costs and supply chain delays. Although it had almost 2,000 subscribers, it decided to sunset the subscription element to stick to a strictly e-commerce model. The e-tailer now draws about 30,000 monthly visitors to its site. Per Trefts, See New’s sales were up 134% last year. Year-to-date this year, its sales are 4X what they were in the same period last year. 

By the end of the first quarter this year, See New will transition to a drop-ship model as the e-tailer shifts its resources away from holding inventory to marketing and UGC. “When we started the subscription, it really was a marketing platform for the brands,” says Trefts. “We really didn’t look at it from the customer’s side at all. So, for us, we’re looking to almost automate the e-tail process as much as possible so that we can really focus on marketing more for brands.” 

Beauty and wellness e-commerce platform, See New Skincare
Launched as bimonthly subscription box in 2018, See New Skincare has shifted away from the subscription business to stick to an e-commerce model. Ingestibles and sexual wellness products are on the upswing at the e-tailer, while skincare is on the downswing.

See New is deepening its personal care selection with deodorants and hand soaps, and venturing into home care with products like laundry detergent. The goal is to enlarge its assortment to 1,000 products from 100 brands. Supplement brand Zuma Nutrition is currently in discussion to enter its repertoire. 

“We have found that post-2020 consumers are really focusing more on what they can do as a whole in their lives to actually make their skin better versus, ‘What serum can I buy?'” says Trefts. “As we look at the future of our business, we see it being more in those nontoxic lifestyle switches that people can make everyday around their home.”

Also in the future, Trefts and Gabriel are enthusiastic about the possibility of forging strategic partnerships with hotels in their home city of Dallas on a range of room essentials from See New brands and pop-ups featuring them. A See New product line could be a possibility, too. 

Trefts says, “We really want See New to be a one-stop-shop for people’s wellness essentials where not only they can trust the products they buy, but they know that they’re going to get something that they’re going to enjoy using.”