The merchant, which sells its namesake facial cleansing massager meejee, had to adapt to a lot in 2020. Digital Commerce 360 chatted with meejee's co-founder Ben Segarra about its sustainability practices, how it designs its site and keeps shoppers coming back.

Ben Segarra launched his skin care company meejee at the beginning of 2020. Despite the U.S. going into lockdown a few months later due to the coronavirus pandemic, Segarra wasn’t discouraged by the timing.

“We anticipated consumer spending would take a dip and believed it would be made up with increased online spending, which it was,” he says. “Once stores closed, we saw a huge increase in sales. It stirred the economy toward this online way of shopping.”

Although Segarra declined to reveal specific sales figures about how the retailer has grown, he says the merchant’s conversion rate is about 3% and the average order value is about $72. According to data from web measurement firm Similar Web, meejee’s traffic climbed 709.8% in July 2020 from March 2020. And the retailer has seen significant gains in year-over-year traffic this year in its second year of business—up 2,156.5% in May 2021 compared with May 2020.

Meejee.co sells its namesake product, the meejee, which is a silicone facial cleansing massager that uses sonic pulses and soft silicone bristles with the goal of purifying pores, revitalizing skin and reducing signs of aging. It also sells facial globes, which are cooling and heating facial massagers. The retailer sells primarily direct to consumers, but it has wholesale accounts with Urban Outfitters Inc. (No. 33 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000) and other specialty stores. It plans to sell its products with more retailers in the future.

Segarra started the company with his co-founder Brooke Tassoul. The two never met in real life—and still haven’t—but a mutual business associate introduced them (virtually). “It’s awesome to have a fully virtual company. It can be a challenge to never being in the same room,” he says. “But it’s great to have no headquarters, office overhead or expenses.”

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As the pandemic wore on shortly after meejee launched, the retailer had to think about how best to appeal to consumers doing all or most of their spending online. “It’s all visual,” Segarra says. “Making beautiful, vivid, intuitive visuals is something we take very seriously.”

The retailer chose to make the imagery and visuals on the site as close to a real-life shopping experience as possible, he says. It uses 3D animation to show all the different angles of the products. While it’s not interactive, meejee plans to explore adding more interactive 3D and augmented reality features in the future. “Visualizing the product in your home is not something you can do in a physical store. Shoppers will be able to see how it looks on their bathroom counter,” he adds.

The only reason meejee has not added these features yet is due to file size and load speed constraints, he says. “We have to be careful with what we add to the site,” he says.

Segarra says, in some ways, shopping online is better than in stores. Meejee uses video to show people using its products and shares video reviews of the products. “You can’t experience that if you just see our product in stores,” he says.

meejee’s sustainability model

What sets meejee apart from other skin care merchants, Segarra says, is the retailer’s emphasis on sustainability. “The beauty space is so forward-thinking in sustainability, but with beauty tools, I don’t see that,” he says.

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Thus, meejee wanted to fill that gap in the beauty tool market because these issues are important to consumers too.

15% of consumers chose to order items from retailers that offered social/environmental benefits, according to a June 2021 survey of 1,032 online shoppers by Digital Commerce 360 and Bizrate Insights. Plus, 11% selected a longer shipping option to support sustainable practices. The survey also found that 14% of online shoppers plan to order from more retailers that offer social and environmental benefits and 20% are concerned about the environment and don’t mind paying a little more for shipping to support retailers that care about the environment.

A few months after launching its site, meejee joined forces with PlasticBank—an organization focused on recycling plastic—to help produce its product. The organization helped meejee remove 4.4 pounds of plastic from entering the oceans for every meejee purchased, which translates to 100 plastic bottles for every meejee. The skin care tool is now BPA-free, cruelty-free, ethically sourced and vegan.

The retailer hopes to be carbon positive by 2022 since it is already plastic positive, which means its products ensure the recovery of an equivalent amount of plastic as was used in producing the product. It also uses recycled products in all of its product packaging and mailing, Segarra says.

Supply chain challenges for the skin care merchant

Despite its growth, meejee’s challenge has been inventory management. For example, its best-selling color—black—has sold out four times since the retailer’s launch. Even in June 2021, the retailer has a banner on all pages of its site that reads: “Due to high demand, certain colors may be placed on backorder. Order today to avoid the wait!”

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A main source of converting traffic to mejee.co is through digital ads, which creates challenges with inventory, Segarra says.

“There is a ramping up period with ads. Sales are low in the beginning and then it skyrockets once more people see the ads,” he says. “We should have already had those goods in production a few weeks ago, and now we’re going to be out of stock.”

As the retailer grows, it can better anticipate customer needs and purchase larger inventory batches in advance to prevent out-of-stock and back-ordered items. That is something the retailer is still smoothing out, Segarra says.

meejee’s evolving audience

When meejee launched, the retailer thought its core audience would be women. Its digital advertisements initially featured only women and its customer base reflected that. But then it tested an ad with a male using the meejee product and its audience split to about half male and half female, Segarra says. Now, meejee’s targeted demographic is both males and females, ages 18-35.

“We also discovered our demographic doesn’t respond to old-style ads that seem fake,” he says, such as pushing products on shoppers with stock photos.

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An example of a customer sharing her success with the meejee skin care tool on meejee’s Instagram page.

To connect to its customers through advertisements, meejee chose to take a more genuine approach by posting on Instagram real customers sharing their experiences with the skin care tool. It also posts memes, inspirational quotes, words of encouragement and details about its sustainable practices to “give people a reason to keep coming back,” Segarra says.

And to encourage shoppers to return to its site, meejee plans to launch some new products in development this year, such as a skin care line (with an accompanying interactive quiz) and a mini version of the meejee tool for travel.

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