IRCE: How Sephora Uses Mobile to Deliver Experiential Retail

I’ve spent hours of shuffling down through the aisles of Sephora, until my girlfriend has asked me my opinion of every color of every lipstick and nail polish. Today, it’s me chasing her around the store, “Are you using the app? You should ask to use the Color IQ Technology. Have you gotten scanned? Let’s get you scanned!”

Sephora (and Saks) impress me with their focus on empowering sales associates with technology. Millions of people work on retail sales floors, and the advantages of customer data and digital tools are finally becoming a part of their arsenal. Mary Beth Laughton is the SVP of Digital at Sephora. It’s apparent that Laughton and the team at Sephora believe in making mobile an in-store companion for their customers. It goes way beyond an intuitive catalogue experience or a store map. Not only can a customer scan products for ratings and reviews and look up past purchases, but, once she’s left one of their stores, the sales associate can focus on personalized communication. If she gets her skin tone scanned using their color IQ technology, Sephora associates are able to curate and send her a selection of products that perfectly match her skin tone.

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Sephora efficiently sums up their mobile strategy in three words, “teach, inspire, and play.”

To Teach, associates use a digital makeover guide to help select multiple looks without pulling out a single brush. They can even adjust the intensity digitally depending on the customer’s sense of style. The guide allows the associate to scan and save every product she’ll use in a makeover and send a personalized email with pictures, tips, and product list.

To Inspire, Sephora leverages its vibrant online beauty community. They allow clients to upload and share looks and tag products they used. Implementing ratings and reviews in 2010 was highly successful and led to the creation of “the beauty board” in 2014. Today, they have millions of examples of user-generated content.

To play, Sephora developed a virtual artist, and the results are stunning. Augmented reality allows people to virtually try on products. Customers have tried on millions of virtual lip shades and lashes. Not only is it highly engaging, but a well designed UX makes it super easy to translate customer joy to conversion; in one click, users can add an entire look to their cart.

Sephora offered a few key takeaways on how to leverage mobile to deliver experimental retail across every touchpoint.

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