Retailers like Circuit City and Borders ultimately failed because they weren’t fast enough to adopt digital channels and make their in-store experience worthwhile. Sephora has no interest in meeting that fate.
The retailer has embraced all aspects of digital media, from apps to mobile point-of-sale tech. Sephora has rolled out a new technology within some of its stores that allows salespeople to scan someone’s face to find the perfect shade of foundation. Johnna Marcus, Sephora’s director of mobile and digital store marketing, spoke to Digiday about how the company is using digital technology to blur the lines between the in-store and online shopping experience and how being customer-centric is key to Sephora’s digital strategy.
Which e-commerce and retail trends is Sephora placing most emphasis on, and why?
We’re focusing on technology that blurs the lines between online and in-store. Our greatest focus is giving the customer a personal shopping assistant in the store. Customers can scan products to read ratings and reviews and all store associates are equipped with mobile phones to check customers out, so there’s no waiting in line. Another interesting thing we are rolling out to stores soon is called Color IQ. It allows our sales associates to scan someone’s face to find the perfect shade of foundation.
Digital experiences tailored for in-store change the game for salespeople. How do you drive your staff on the shop floor to embrace these changes?
Our employees are all really passionate about beauty, whether it’s skin care, makeup or hair care. We’ve found success when the new technology or process helps them share their passion with customers. All women know the pain of going into a store and trying to pick out the right shade of foundation. Even if you try it on in-store, many times, you come home and see that in a different light, it isn’t your color after all. We’re partnered with Pantone for technology in some of our stores that lets our salespeople scan someone’s face to get the perfect match for her skin and her undertone. Then using an iPad, the store associate pulls up thousands of foundation products that can be filtered by skin type and other variables. That’s the kind of stuff that people really flock to.
What’s the biggest challenge retailers face in digital?
The challenge is maintaining loyalty. People are empowered with all the information out there. So the challenge is about how to make sure you’re not being commoditized. That’s the reason why our promise is so different. It’s not just about our products. It’s also about education and serving as a resource to customers. We offer beauty trends and tips and provide how-to videos as well.
Why do you feel Sephora is ahead of the game in digital?
We’ve always been a digital company. We don’t have a 100-year history in retail and did not face the challenge of having to retrofit an old infrastructure to fit into the digital world. There were no engrained habits or restructures. Our strategy is and always has been about providing the best shopping experience regardless of where the customer is. We were the first beauty website and one of the first retailers with a mobile app. We were very early to the game in using digital to educate clients about products, and I think that’s why we’ve been able to position ourselves as a beauty expert. We were one of the first brands to roll out a mobile point-of-sale system, which has helped us expedite lines. This is a really great technology to have in our beauty studio, because there’s no reason a person who just spent 30 minutes with a sales associate should then be walked to a lin
Quontic Bank’s metaverse outpost demonstrates the importance of brand utility in metaverse activations
Legal concerns notwithstanding, Quontic’s plans for its Decentraland location show that the bank is approaching the metaverse as a functional space for every day use, rather than an escape from reality.
‘Cost conscious consumers, restrictive economy’: Advertising’s tough ride in 2022
The big issue for advertisers from an ad spending impact isn't the war in Europe. It’s the supply chain woes emanating from china, the pandemic and the lockdown
Why a CBD brand is experimenting with OOH advertising to counter e-commerce buzzkills
As the digital marketing landscape continues to be murky for niche brands, CBD brand Sunday Scaries looks to OOH as a workaround.
SponsoredHow marketers and retailers are unlocking the true value of retail media
Ben Kneen, senior director of product management, Xandr It’s a challenging time for retailers in the advertising industry. As they cope with supply chain woes and inflation-related pressures, they seek high-margin revenue streams amid evolving privacy regulations and massive shifts in identity solutions — including IDFA, the deprecation of third-party cookies and more. In light […]
How work-anywhere trend helped Vista attracted senior talent from heavy hitter brands
A remote-first, flexible working operating model has enabled Vista to snag top talent from major brands like Nike, Spotify, Converse and Netflix in the last year.
In-game advertising experts question Microsoft and Sony’s gaming advertising plans
The importance of free-to-play titles is one reason why some in-game advertising experts are skeptical about the tech giants’ ability to succeed in their chosen business.