Female led e-commerce companies

2019-03-08, by: Alessandra Burroughs
feature-top

Women founded/led businesses that are rocking e-commerce

( Adapted from original post published by olipoly studio on 2017/03/08. )

Online shopping has grown exponencially over the last decade, powered by mobile shopping with women as a driving force accounting for 66.5% of purchases made from a mobile device, according to Business Insider.

Data from another research from Gilt Groupe published by Forbes found that women represent 70% of overall customer base and drive 74% of total revenue.

The barriers for starting an online shop are much lower today than one decade ago and more people are entering the e-commerce market as means of starting their own business or reaching new audiences for their brick and mortar.

With the advantage of being part of the majority of buyer audience, more women are entering the e-commerce business scene.

In homage to Women's International Day, here are a few well-known successful companies that are owned and founded by a woman or been ran by a female CEO over the years.

If you own an e-commerce store or are thinking of starting one take advice from those women on how they brought their companies to success for inspiration and read the tips about what they're doing right on their e-commerce websites so you can take your online shop to the next level.

The Body Shop

Founder: Annita Rodick

Remember Rudy, the full-bodied Barbie? That was one of the the many memorable campaigns of The Body Shop on the media.

If you thought profits don’t mix with activism The Body Shop success history, with 3,000 stores in 66 countries and employing over 22,000 people, has proven otherwise.

Founded in 1976, when Annita Roddick opened the first physical store Brighton, The Body Shop stands out for being one of the first cosmetic companies to care for the environment, be against animal testing, use natural ingredients on their formulas and practice fair trade with developing countries.

Their branding and advertising campaigns were pioneer in standing for those values, staying on vanguard of non-conventional appeal on the beauty industry market, even when compared with later brands that folowed this trend.

The Body Shop adapted to the rise of online shopping and it store has many elements to translate their great customer experience to online shopping.

Female Led  Ecommerce Companies - Annita Roddick, The Body Shop Founder Source: Wikipedia

Anita Lucia Roddick (23 October 1942 – 10 September 2007) was a human rights activist, environmental campaigner and founder of The Body Shop. Her activism and campaigning for environmental and social issues, included involvement with Greenpeace and The Big Issue.

With over 77 million customers throughout the world, the The Body Shop was voted second most trusted brand in the United Kingdom, and 28th top brand in the world.

On 17 March 2006, cosmetics giant L’Oréal purchased The Body Shop for £652 million.

Whatever you do, be different — that was the advice my mother gave me, and I can’t think of better advice for an entrepreneur. If you’re different, you will stand out.

The Body Shop E-commerce Website

Female Led Ecommerce Companies - The Body Shop Responsive Website Source: The Body Shop website

With a responsive website, The Body Shop provides a good online experience across different devices to its customers.

  •  The navigation menu is always visible on top when scrolling down and expanding to a mega menu with subcategories and product images for easier identification while passing hovering on each top category.

  •  The homepage displays a good sample of product inventory with main three categories and section highlighting new product releases.

  •  The search on the right corner expands to make typing easier and accomodate longer searched terms. An autocomplete function is also a must have for search boxes on responsive online shops, displaying relevant options even before the user finishes to type.

    This is particularly useful on mobile, where customers will be typing on a small keyboard and sometimes on the move. Studies have shown that good search user experience make users 3 to 4x more likely to purchase, having a huge impact on your store sales revenue.

  •  The Body Shop website’s category pages offer both visual and text cues to visitors on where they have landed on the website; a header image including product photo and text detail the kind of products found on the page.

  •  The product sorting shows product range and pages are kept relevant with new products and seasonal offers.

  •  The site also makes good use of a clickable breadcrumb at the top of each page to help with navigation.

  •  Some individual product pages have plenty of product images in high quality resolution, including details and different angles. Larger product images can increase sales by 9%.

  •  Add to cart buttons are well positioned right above the fold and on good size and providing good contrast with background color. A sticky button appear as you scroll the page, always visible to the user.

  •  The Body Shop offers free delivery for purchases over $20 and this information is displayed on the top of each and repeated in product description.

  •  Detailed product descriptions are known to perform well and the product pages display additional product information on scroll, such as ingredients, how-to-use-it instructions and detailed delivery and return policies.

Spanx

Founder: Sara Blakely

Spanx is a notable presence on this list because not only because of its being female owned and founded by Sara Blakely, but also for having a succession of female CEOs since 2002, when Laurie Ann Goldman created a business model for Spanx based on lessons she learned during the 10 year she had worked as an executive at Coca-Cola: think big, start small, and scale fast.

After Goldman resigned in 2014, the choice fell on Jan Singer, which already had a successful career of leading roles on companies like Nike and Reebok.

The company was create by Sara entrepreneurial spirit and $5000 of her own savings when, after cutting out the foot ends of a regular pantyhose to wear it with open toe sandals, she saw a market need and decided to fulfill it, founding what later became an international shapewear brand, with many of its retail stores spread across US selling a range comfortable garments that minimize body flaws including bras, shapers, hosiery, swinwear, activewear and menswear.

Besides its own stores Spanx is also distributed in many America’s retails and boutiques and high-end retailers in over 60 countries around he world, while it benefited from the convenience of online shopping to expand into the brand it is today.

More than 40% of all Spanx employees are working moms.

Female Led Ecommerce Companies - Sara Blakely, Spanx Founder Source: Spanx Media Kit

From frustrated consumer to internationally successful entrepreneur, Sara Treleaven Blakely was named world’s youngest self-made female billionaire by Forbes Magazine in 2012 and shares her story to inspire other people to follow their dreams.

Businesswoman and inventor of the footless pantyhose, Sara founded Spanx after having her idea rejected by most of America’s hosiery mills.

In 2006, she launched the Sara Blakely Foundation, helping women with education and entrepreneurial training.

Ideas, even million-dollar ones, are most vulnerable in their infancy; don’t share them with too many people. However, don’t hide your plan from people who can help you move it forward.

Spanx E-commerce Website

Female Led Ecommerce Companies - Spanx Responsive Website Source: Spanx website

Spanx website also provides a good overall responsive experience for mobile, tablet and desktop.

  •  The navigation menu keeps always visible and fixed top when scrolling down. It expands to a mega menu with subcategories and product images for easier identification while passing hovering on each main category, but not on the fixed menu when scrolling.

  •  The toggle menu icon positioned at top left makes it a bit difficult to reach from a mobile device.

  •  The homepage displays a good sample of product inventory, showcasing all categories of garments sold by Spanx.

  •  The search, positioned next the toggle icon also makes a bit difficult to reach it on mobile, but it does include autocomplete function that displays results with image thumbnails of the products before the user finishes typing, which is extremely useful.

  •  The category pages offer both visual (on desktop) and text cues to visitors on where they have landed on the website; a header image including product photo and relevant filter options for the pages results.

  •  The site also makes good use of a clickable breadcrumb at the top of each page to help with navigation.

  •  Individual product pages have product images for different color options in high quality resolution, including different angles.

  •  Bellow the fold, a slider with suggested products presents other options to the shopper, potentially increasing the average value per order and keeping visitors more time browsing the website.

  •  Add to cart buttons are well positioned right above the fold and on good size and providing good contrast with background color.

  •  The product pages display useful detailed product description organized by clickable tabs, such as size, materials and shaping graduation information.

Avon

CEO (from April, 2012 until February,2018): Sheri McCoy

Avon is a direct sales company in beauty, household, and personal care with a history of empowering women worldwide. From a time there weren’t much other options for work, selling their products door-to-door has been the means many women could make an income.

Sheri McCoy was Avon‘s CEO until February this year, when she was was “terminated without cause” from Avon due to its global sales falling for five straight years and North American revenues falling 18% in 2014 — she was still CEO when the first version of this posts was published and remains employed as an adviser during the transition period through March 31.

Avon Products, Inc — regardless of its recent struggles — had annual sales of $5.7 billion worldwide in 2016. With 6.4 million representatives, it’s the fifth-largest beauty company and the second largest direct selling enterprise of the world.

In 2016, Avon completed the separation of its United States, Canada and Puerto Rico business as New Avon LLC, which also uses the name “Avon”. As part of a three-year plan, the global Avon Products headquarters moved to London, UK.

Sherilyn S. McCoy, the former CEO of Avon Products been named Avon‘s CEO in 2012, after 30 years of employment with Johnson & Johnson, where she’s been Vice Chairman and member of the Office, responsible for the pharmaceutical and consumer business divisions of the company.

Appointed as the Vice Chairman in January 2011, she was named by Fortune Magazine at the time as the 10th woman on their “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” list, which has included her since 2008.

In August 2012, she was pointed as the 39th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine.

The vision is to restore Avon to an iconic beauty brand and to our leadership position in global direct selling, as well as continuing to ensure that we live up to our mission of empowering women.

Avon E-commerce Website

Female Led Ecommerce Companies - Avon Website Source: Avon website

Avon website went through a redesign since the first publication of this post two years ago.

  •  The navigation menu is always visible on top when scrolling down and expanding to a mega menu with subcategories and images banners highlighting offers.

  •  The homepage display promotions, best sellers and new collections.

  •  The search has autocomplete function displaying relevant options with product thumbnail imagesbefore the user finishes to type.

  •  Avon website’s category pages offer text cues to visitors on where they have landed on the website and highlights special offers on that category of products.

  •  The product sorting shows product range and a basic filter with price, rating and alphabetical options.

  •  The site makes good use of a clickable breadcrumb at the top of each page to help with navigation.

  •  Some individual product pages have plenty of product images and include video.

  •  Add to cart buttons are well positioned right above the fold and on good size and providing good contrast with background color.

  •  The product pages display additional product information on scroll, such as ingredients, how-to-use-it instructionsm customer reviews and other product suggestions.

EasyJet

CEO (from March, 2010 until January,2018): Carolyn McCall

Although more women are taking lead roles in large companies it’s easier to find them in niches where the majority of consumers are female.

EasyJet Airline Company Limited, the British low cost flight company stand outs in aiation industry for having Carolyn McCall in the role of company’s CEO since 2010 – until Januray this year, when Carolyn left the air company.

The company operates domestic and international scheduled flights on over 820 routes in more than 30 countries and has continously expanded since its creation in 1995, through a mix of acquisitions and base openings that met consumer demand for low-cost air travel.

Female Led Ecommerce Companies - Carolyn McCall, easyJet CEO Source: Wikipedia

Carolyn Julia McCall was announced Chief Executive of easyJet on 24 March 2010 and remained on the company for almost 8 years, when she left the airline to be Chief Executive of ITV.

During her successful years at easyJet carolyn was known for her “pragmatic approach to Human Resources rather than politically correct niceties”.

Prior to joining the airline she was also CEO of Guardian Newspapers Ltd and GMG.

She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours for services to the aviation industry.

On January, McCall left easyJet to become the first female Chief Executive of ITV.

It’s not easy out there. The benign weather conditions have helped us, but two thirds of our first-half performance was due to improvements we’ve made – better customer service and on-time performance, website changes, launching our offering for business travellers.

EasyJet Website with Online Booking and Payment Features

Female Led Ecommerce Companies - easyJet Responsive Website Source: EasyJet website

With a responsive website, easyJet provides a good responsive experience through mobile, tablet and desktop.

  •  The navigation menu is fixed and always visible on top when scrolling down.

  •  The homepage displays special offers, discounts, packages and most popular destinations.

  •  The toggle menu icon on top left is bit difficult to reach for mobile users.

  •  A search box above the fold let users choose from flights, hotels, cars and holidays tab options and is conveniently open on flights, the most searched option.

  •  The changing slide header background can be a bit distracting for the user to trying fill the flight details in the searchbox and also slows down the site a bit. The website experience would improve without it, since that is the most important task a visitor would perform in a flight company’s website.

  •  Links to check in, sign in and help options are easy to find on right top menu.

Do you run an online store?

Tell us about the challenges you face on your business and the strategies you use to help your customers discover about your products.

 

feature-top
Alessandra Burroughs, web designer and developer

With over 10 years of experience in Web Design, Development and Project Management, work featured on .NET magazine and an Apple Creativity Prize in WebDesign, Alessandra helps business owners and entrepreneurs promote their company's brand, achieve goals and reach their customers or audience online, being the go-to person for website maintenance, updates, optimization and webmaster tasks in general.

read more

Questions about getting started? Drop us a line!

Get In Touch to find out more