This online discount and brand-name fragrance company stays at the top of its customers’ minds by continuing to improve their online experience. This online discount and brand-name fragrance company stays at the top of its customers’ minds by continuing to improve their online experience. In the old days, people traveled to the mall to find their favorite fragrance. And although people still visit the fragrance counters of major department stores, they’re making their purchases elsewhere. According to Scentiments.com President Howard Wyner, many of those people are purchasing on his site. 

“We see a lot of companies boasting huge loses and double-digit declines, but for the month of March, we actually had a 17% increase in our sales,” he said. “Customers are savvy enough that they’re going to go to the mall, finding their favorite product, and then searching online to see if they can find it for less.”

Scentiments.com is an evolution of a family owned business that began in South Florida as a brick and mortar store. The first generation of the family created the perfume stores, but the second generation, spearheaded by Wyner, realized the company wasn’t meeting all of the needs of its seasonal customer base. 

“Many people traveled from the Midwest and the Northeast to visit our stores in the mall,” said Wyner. “They started to tell us they wished we would expand because they couldn’t find anyone with prices like ours.”

Scentiments began by sending catalogs in the mail, developing a toll-free number, and eventually managing a significant mail-order business. In 1996, the Internet started to take off, and the family saw yet another opportunity. From the start of Scentiments.com, the focus has been on offering low prices and, more importantly, keeping the same level of customer service and attention to detail as in the company’s retail locations. 

“We’re an Internet business, but we call our customers and check up on them when there are issues,” said Wyner. “We’re not just completely e-commerce.”

Perfectly positioned

As the Internet boomed, Scentiments.com found itself perfectly positioned to service its current and potential customer bases. The conclusion of the site’s first sale brought with it a celebration, but over time, the real surprise came from the amount of business done online versus in the retail locations. 

“Back in the day, we did 95% of our business through our stores and thought the Internet would be a nice hobby,” said Wyner. “It’s now reversed; the Internet is our main business.”

Over the years, as Internet-based companies continued to distance themselves from their customers by removing customer service numbers and replacing them with forms to fill out and submit, Scentiments.com remained true to its original vision of staying close in contact. 

The company’s approach to keeping it personal is simple. E-mail is great for the initial customer contact, but discussing an issue back and forth over e-mail is tedious and removes the emotional connection from the interaction. “When there’s a customer reporting that his or her package is two days late, our employees will call that person and let s/he know we’re tracking it and keeping an eye on the issue,” said Wyner. “That added correspondence could make the difference in a customer’s desire to come back.”

Although 99% of Scentiments.com’s customers hit purchase, a product goes out, and it’s received in five to seven days, it’s that 1% that has the potential to hurt the business. “They’re the ones who voice their issues louder than the others, and we’re cognizant of that,” Wyner continued. “We make sure we do everything possible to keep our customers satisfied.”

Keeping up

As its customers grew more comfortable with Internet shopping, Scentiments.com made it a point to keep up with their changing demands. One way it’s done this is to eliminate the number of clicks it takes to go from add to bag. 

“The number of clicks it takes to get to the product has to be minimal,” said Wyner. “It’s like the old commercial of how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. We use the same premise here.”

A customer looking for Dolce & Gabbana, for example, need only click three times before finding the product and one more to check out. Anything beyond four clicks, said Wyner, and customers get frustrated and move on. “Keeping it easy and minimal is key,” he said.

Almost a year ago, Scentiments.com added a reviews section to its site for customer feedback on products. So far, nearly 100,000 reviews have been left by customers. The company also hired MyBuys to generate recommendations for customers looking for new products that might fit their tastes. By being able to analyze the behavioral aspects of shoppers, which brands they looked at, and how they found the product they want, Scentiments.com can recommend another product that might also fit their needs.

“We’ve also revamped our search bar,” said Wyner. “We make sure there is no way customers can’t find a product unless we simply don’t have it.”

With enhancements such as these, as well as the development of partnerships with outside companies, to improve customer satisfaction when visiting its site, it’s no wonder Scentiments.com was listed as one of the Hot 100 Retail Web sites by Internet Retailer. But Wyner doesn’t take the credit.

“I might get quoted in a magazine, but it’s our staff members and their hard work and dedication to making sure we’re a success that have brought us this far,” he said. “We make sure we’re available for our customers, and we’re always finding ways to make sure we’re top of mind with them as their destination for fragrances.”