Last week, we attended the Decoded Fashion & Beauty Summit in New York, where fashion and beauty retail leaders gathered to explore the death of retail (as we know it), demystify data, and discuss the connected consumer.
One of the keynotes we enjoyed most was Sephora’s VP of Digital Product Lucinda Newcomb’s presentation on the connected consumer. Lucinda kicked off her talk by sharing Sephora’s mantra—”client experience is queen.” This mantra informs everything the beauty giant does across each customer touchpoint.
Since its launch, Sephora has strived to be everywhere its customers are, and was an early adopter of e-commerce. What really sets the company apart, however, is the special way in which they’ve brought digital channels into their stores in order to enhance customer experience. Customers move fluidly between channels and demand a seamless transition between touchpoints. Sephora aims to teach, inspire, and play across every channel.
When developing new digital offerings, Sephora thinks about the ways in which digital and the beauty space have evolved over the past few years. Digital no longer means web only—digital experiences take place across channels. Digital has also shifted from a purely transactional interaction to an emotional experience, as evidenced by the great content beauty retailers like Sephora, Birchbox, and Violet Grey are now creating.
Here are three of the ways Sephora is creating a connected customer experience across digital channels:
1. Sephora Virtual Artist
The Sephora Virtual Artist is the company’s product try-on app. One of Sephora customers’ favorite things about its stores is the ability to touch and play with the products, something which originally differentiated Sephora from department stores where high-end beauty products had traditionally been purchased. Prestige products were no longer hidden behind an intimidating glass counter. With its Virtual Artist app, Sephora found a way for its customers to try on lipsticks, eyeshadows, and lashes digitally. The company not only re-created its in-store experience, but made it possible to try on hundreds of products quickly (without tearing your skin off).
The Virtual Artist met each of Sephora’s goals: it solved a client need, created a business opportunity, and brought an element of fun!
2. Digital Makeover Guide
Another product Sephora has introduced is the Digital Makeover Guide. Sephora’s customers loved the opportunity to get makeovers from Sephora team members in-store, but once they left the store, it was easy to lose a piece of paper the makeup artist had prepared for them listing the products used. Sephora found a way to solve this challenge by introducing the Digital Makeover Guide, a tool that exists in the Sephora app. When a customer comes in for a makeover, the Sephora team member scans all the products used, and enters information about how she used them. The customer can then go back in the app at any time and find the products she tried. The Guide also includes before and after photos of the customer, as well as product tutorials.
3. The Beauty Insider Community
A third way in which Sephora is embracing the connected consumer is through their Beauty Insider Community. The Community also lives within the Sephora app, eliminating customers’ need to sign in across multiple apps for content, purchases, and try ons—something they’d learned their customers wanted while running focus groups. The Beauty Insider Community is a peer to peer community where customers can connect with other Sephora customers to share information about their particular beauty needs and favorite product solutions. Customers can join different groups (e.g. curly hair, lipstick lovers) to chat about their favorite beauty categories. Through the live community chat, customers can ask a question and get nearly instant feedback from a community member.
At the end of her presentation, Lucinda noted something that we wholeheartedly believe at Custora— optimizing for transactions is a race to the bottom. To survive in this era of retail, companies must understand their customers needs and create an emotional connection with each and every one.