Based in Berlin, VAAY is a personal online store specialising in medicinal hemp and CBD products.
VAAY’s celebrity-backing and innovative branding have cemented their status as one of Germany’s ‘coolest’ CBD brands. But founder Finn Age Hänsel is keen to stress that their primary focus remains consumer health and wellbeing. Its products are developed for maximum quality and efficacy, with a commitment to science and sustainability.
Rich caught up with their Head of Tech, Kevin, to find out about the challenges of operating within a heavily regulated industry, and why the right software solutions have been vital to business growth.
As Kevin explains, the VAAY team have faced a lot of obstacles right from the start. The restrictions imposed on this type of business meant more time, effort and research was required than for a regular eCommerce start up. Even finding a bank provider able to offer its services and integrate with Shopify Plus was difficult.
But the biggest challenge came with marketing its wellness range. Germany has very strict rules around the online advertising of CBD and hemp products, posing quite a barrier in an emerging market where consumer education is key.
Prior to lockdown, the brand made use of pop up stores. This allowed them to explain the effects and benefits of each product and connect with their audience, resulting in an impressive uptake:
The conversion rates of the pop up stores was around 90-100%.
Kevin, Head of Tech
But of course, pop up stores are currently a no go during COVID-19 lockdowns, and even when they are allowed, they limit the audience VAAY are able to reach. That’s where the value of reviews comes in for this brand.
Unable to promote products themselves, VAAY understood how important the customer voice would be, and that collecting reviews was imperative. In sharing their experiences, consumers are able to educate each other on the quality and effectiveness of VAAY’s product range.
These reviews also help VAAY optimise its service, responding to feedback and focusing on products that meet customer needs. But as Kevin explains, in the beginning this was somewhat of a Catch-22:
We somehow needed to start selling to get reviews, but without reviews it’s difficult to sell.
It was from this dilemma that VAAY’s tech stack started to grow. They opted to offer free products as a way of rewarding customers for their time in leaving feedback, and by integrating LoyaltyLion with REVIEWS.io, they’re able to automatically assign points to members of their loyalty programme that have left reviews.
We recently partnered up with LoyaltyLion for their eCommerce trends live AMA’s, and the team were really pleased to hear that brands like VAAY are thinking beyond simple loyalty discounts.As their Head of Marketing explains, more and more businesses are starting to see the value in the customer voice, and how it can be used for cost effective acquisition:
Brands choose to work with platforms such as REVIEWS.io and LoyaltyLion because they understand the power of using user generated content to drive conversion. They see how they can use the two tools together to make the collection of that content easier and less time consuming, whilst also making that advocacy far more rewarding for customers.
Fiona Stevens, Head of Marketing
VAAY’s tech stack doesn’t end here. They incorporate everything by using Klaviyo, as they quickly realised the need to provide a personalised customer experience through unique automated communication.
To round off the interview, Rich was keen to understand what prompted VAAY to switch from Yotpo to REVIEWS.io.
For Kevin, it all came down to customer service. While the platform itself raised no issues, he found the support lacking at times. It’s great to know that he finds the REVIEWS.io team to be much more hands on, dealing with any problems efficiently and effectively, and that our customer service ensures he gets the help he needs, whenever he needs it.
The switch also streamlined their processes. Having previously used both Yotpo and Ekomi, they found all the features and functionality they needed in one single solution.
It was definitely the right decision as even our US agency partners are happy with all the integrations and support, which is great.
Brands like VAAY face some very unique challenges, but it just goes to show how the right tech stack and level of support can help eCommerce stores thrive. For more info on incorporating REVIEWS.io into your current tech stack, view our integrations page or chat to our support team.