McCabes is an independent, family-owned pharmacy provider based in Ireland, operating 28 pharmacies and employing around 350 staff. It was founded in 1981 by Roy and Margaret McCabe as a single pharmacy in Malahide near Dublin, and has grown since then to become one of Ireland’s most loved providers of prescription medicines and health and beauty products. The business is still run by the McCabe family, who remain fully dedicated to offering an exceptional service to the communities they serve.

The challenge

McCabes prides itself on providing a comprehensive, consultative approach to its customers in-store, which is central to the company’s philosophy. This encompasses all aspects of its service offering, including aiding customers in navigating the complex process of buying skincare products.

With increasing numbers of customers moving to online shopping, McCabes had spent around 18 months implementing a digital-first strategy, overhauling its e-commerce capabilities so that it could better replicate the in-store experience. This began with stabilising and improving the company website, which included considerations such as SEO, cataloguing products correctly, and adding appropriate categorisation to assist customers when browsing.


However, there was still more that McCabes wanted to do to personalise the online skincare experience.

Sean Gleeson, E-Commerce Manager at McCabes, said: “When our customers shop in-store, we want them to very much feel part of the McCabes family, which means we’re passionate about providing a personalised service. This is the ideal approach when selling skincare products, where customers often need a helping hand.

“However, the nature of e-commerce means it’s much more difficult to recreate this experience online. Skincare in particular is an area where the browsing and buying journey can be highly complex due to the diversity of products on offer, so we needed a way to make this much more straightforward for customers.

The solution

To bring this extra element of personalisation, McCabes enlisted the help of Conversity, leading to the adoption of an intelligent guided selling (IGS) solution for La Roche-Posay skincare products, known as the Skincare Advisor.

In building the tool, Conversity worked to gain an understanding of the shopper mindsets of McCabes’ skincare customers. Some are looking for beauty products that specifically target the face. Others are browsing for specialised sun protection to suit a variety of needs and skin types. Many are also interested in high-quality skincare products for their children.

Once these mindsets had been established, Conversity worked on enriching the data that McCabes had on its customers, applying dynamic search, recommendation and segmentation logic to the IGS tool.

Gleeson added: “The Skincare Advisor is the exact kind of technology we needed to bridge the gap between in-store and online personalisation. Properly replicating the McCabes store experience required us to better understand our customers’ online behaviour, which meant having a system in place that draws meaningful, actionable insight from all of our customer data.”

The results

Since implementation, the tool has been hugely successful in driving purchases of La Roche-Posay products. Some of the highlights that can be attributed to the presence of the IGS tool include:

La Roche-Posay skincare sales saw increases of 2,157% in May 2020 compared to May 2019 

Online turnover increased by 176% when comparing all of 2019 vs Jan to May 2020 

Between 18th March and 30th March, there was a 157% increase in products added to baskets compared to the period of 1st January to 17th February, demonstrating the tool’s usefulness during the Covid-19 lockdown 

Between 1st January and 30th March, 35% of customers using the Intelligent Guided Selling tool clicked the ‘Add to basket’ button after viewing products 

The average session duration on McCabes’ ecommerce platform has more than doubled from 1 minute 16 seconds, to 2 minutes 46 seconds 

Average order value has increased by 27% 

McCabes has an average rating of 4.9 stars on Trustpilot

Gleeson said: “Having Conversity’s IGS tool in place has been incredibly powerful in helping us maintain those all-important connections with our customers. With the Skincare Advisor, we feel we’ve empowered our customers to browse, select and purchase products with the utmost confidence, while still retaining the human element of the experience that is so important to our business.

“We have also noticed a significant halo effect from having the Skincare Advisor in place, with skincare customers showing increased engagement with other areas of our e-commerce offering.

“We are now planning to extend IGS to other skincare brands that we offer, as well as other core areas of our business, including allergy and vitamin products. We believe this will be key in helping us build a truly world-class e-commerce experience in the long term.”

By Jim O Brien/CEO

CEO and expert in transport and Mobile tech. A fan 20 years, mobile consultant, Nokia Mobile expert, Former Nokia/Microsoft VIP,Multiple forum tech supporter with worldwide top ranking,Working in the background on mobile technology, Weekly radio show, Featured on the RTE consumer show, Cavan TV and on TRT WORLD. Award winning Technology reviewer and blogger. Security and logisitcs Professional.

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