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Your Beauty BFF: The Adore Beauty Story | #126

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Your Beauty BFF: The Adore Beauty Story
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Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.

Growth CEO and Non Executive Board Director, proven experience scaling highly successful online marketplaces, ecommerce platforms and an online education start up. Over twenty five years professional experience, with demonstrated expertise in business operations, strategy, leadership and business transformation across a number of industries.
Currently CEO of Adore Beauty, Australia's #1 online beauty retailer. Previously Managing Director - Americas at SEEK, a leader in digital employment marketplaces. In this role Tennealle led the emerging Americas portfolio, working closely with local CEOs to drive strategy and the evolution of SEEK’s business model. Prior to this Tennealle held a number of strategy focused positions at SEEK including the start up and scale of Online Education Services, a public-private partnership between SEEK and Swinburne University which was awarded the 2015 BRW Fast 100 winner.
Previously Tennealle was a consultant with global tier-one management consulting firm, A.T. Kearney focusing on strategic and operational CEO-agenda issues. In this role she led a number of business transformation projects across a range of industries.

Tennealle shares how it all comes back to customer-focus and reveals secrets to being everyone’s best beauty BFF!

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Tennealle O’Shannessy, CEO of Adore Beauty. From starting out in Kate Morris’ garage with a $12,000 loan from her boyfriend’s parents to listing on the ASX in 2021 at a valuation of over $650m – it has been a wild ride so far. Adore Beauty now partner with over 150 cosmetics brands and stock 10,000-plus beauty care products. Today, they sell over $180m of product every year to over 800 thousand active customers.  But as you hear from Tennealle today, they aren’t resting on their laurels and still consider themselves under dogs. In a wide ranging chat we cover everything from how Adore uses content to drive repeat purchases, why headless commerce is so important to their future plans and how they are leading the way in female leadership. And of course, I couldn’t let the chat go by without mentioning Tim Tams.  Tennealle has been with Adore since August 2020 as CEO and has previously held a number of leadership positions at Seek – most recently Managing Director of Americas. As you’ll hear today, she is relentlessly focused on the customer and it shows in everything Adore is doing.

It starts and ends with the customer.

Tennealle O’Shannessy

Questions answered in this episode include
  • What is Adore Beauty’s approach to content?
  • What are the main differences you see between engagement on the Adore Beauty app vs the website? 
  • What can you tell us about the upcoming launch of Adore Beauty’s  private label?

Modest customer-centricity

“I think that we’re much more focused on the customer and so what we would say is that we very much still consider ourselves almost the underdog. Because if you go back to our origin story this is a classic story of a business set up in Kate’s garage 21 years ago. And it was one that was self-funded for its first, almost 15 years and so the way that they were able to be successful was to focus very deeply on delighting the customer at every stage.

And that’s something that’s really ingrained into all that we do today. I think as you look at our strategy and where we’re focused moving forward, you will see that underpinning of customer-centricity. That’s how we approach doing business.”

Women at the top

“Kate Morris and James Height, our two co-founders, are both incredibly passionate about diversity and gender equality and have made it a priority in the business. One of the things we’re most proud of in terms of the IPO was, that at its time, it was the largest business that had been listed with a woman founder and a woman CEO. And that extends right through the ranks. We’ve got a majority women team, a majority women board, a majority of women in executive team, and 82% of our managers identify as women. 

And so I think it starts with making it a priority in the business and having that being very clearly spoken about by the key leaders and that’s something that the leaders here at Adore have been passionate about for many, many years.”

Holistic marketing approach

“I think building a sustainable marketing platform that supports your scaling and growth is one of the key challenges for all e-commerce players and I think that any e-commerce brand that was anchored on growing simply through paid digital will cap out the growth at some point in time. 

We’ve thought about marketing holistically for several years now and what we’re really looking to do is to invest in and build out our owned marketing channels. It’s things like our various content channels, really building a community. It’s the brand awareness piece to improve the performance of our direct channels. And recently we also launched our mobile app. One of the things that really excites us about that as a tool is it’s essentially another owned marketing channel focused on returning customers. 

I think success for most e-commerce businesses that are genuinely looking to scale is to have a sustainable marketing platform that encompasses both a paid element but also I guess the lower cost owned community type channels.”

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