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#Shoptalk18: How Sephora blurs the lines between in store and online

Sephora’s EVP of omni-retail, Mary Beth Laughton, described how the retailer has had to up its game in recent years when it comes to digital engagement with its tech savvy beauty customers.

“We know each of our customers – or clients as we call them – are really unique and have a personal perspective of what beauty means for them,” she told delegates at the Shoptalk 2018 conference in Las Vegas this week. “Beauty is theirs to define and ours to celebrate at Sephora. And we help our clients find a product that’s best for her.”

As well as traditional CRM marketing efforts including personalised messaging, abandoned basket emails and replenishment reminders, Sephora has also invested in other digital mobile initiatives which aim to further engage the customer.

Laughton explained how the beauty retailer wanted to create exciting journeys for its clients, while capturing data at each touchpoint to better personalise in the future.

“Experience is king,” she said. “56% prefer to spend money on experiences rather than material items.”


Sephora’s mobile innovations

Sephora Virtual Artist: An augmented reality solution which allows customers to virtually try on beauty products.  

Beauty Insider Community: A forum which allows consumers to talk to each other, to share tips and recommendations. Customers can also request to speak to store associates for advice via a live chat, while in-store meet ups for customers within different beauty segments are organised by the retailer.

Store Companion: Using geo-fence technology, the Sephora app can alert customers to a nearby store. Targeted messaging is used to drive footfall to the store, such as informing a customer a product on her online wish list is available in the nearby store.

Digital Guides: Sephora is currently rolling out a service where customers who come into a store for a makeover can be sent a digital list of all the products she has tried on with tutorial information and purchase capabilities. If a customer is given additional samples to try at home, these are clearly labelled on the app so a customer can purchase a full-size product if she wishes.


But the above innovations aren’t used independently of each other: Loughton described how a client who uses the AR solution to try on a lipstick may use the app to book an in-store consultation. Afterwards a digital list will be sent to her as a reminder of the products she has tried on, and this customer may share her experience on the Beauty Insider community.

Sephora’s innovative use of mobile is driving footfall to stores, while engaging with consumers on their smartphones digitally. Using the geo-fencing technology as an example, Loughton said over 50% of targeted messages drive footfall to a nearby store.