#Shoptalk19: Macy’s to roll out in-store fragrance finder

Macy’s has unveiled a set of in-store interactive perfume displays which allows customers to choose a perfume based on a scent rather than the brand, which is how shoppers tend to shop for fragrances online.

After identifying that customers like to shop for perfume by brand in store, but by searching for scent notes – such as citrus or floral – online, Macy’s wanted to provide shoppers with an innovative way to discover fragrances in this way in store.

The US department store retailer is working with Perch Interactive to roll out hundreds of displays to around fifty Macy’s beauty departments from May 2019. Each store will feature up to seven screens in what the Perch CEO, Trevor Sumner, told Essential Retail would be grouped together back-to-back in an “island of exploration”. One principal unit would introduce customers to the experience, who then go on to try out fragrances from different units themed around a particular scent.

Each individual display will feature five perfumes placed in front of an interactive screen which will detect when a customer picks up a bottle and then surface further information about that particular perfume. Sumner described how interacting with the bottles could initiate ratings, reviews, videos and digital advertising campaigns which are normally only available to online shoppers.

Revealing the new technology roll-out at the Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas, Nata Dvir, EVP, general business manager for beauty at Macy’s, said the retailer invests in technologies to make the customer journey easier.

“We’re excited to learn through Perch, how often the customer picks up a bottle, does she end up purchasing and where is she in the decision before she makes that sale?”

Sumner added: “Despite a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon and discounting the entire department store segment, there is a culture of innovation at Macy’s, with its acquisition of Story, what they’re doing with Beta and its mobile app penetration.

“It’s committed to trying out technology and it goes after these things because they recognise the importance of innovation and this technology helps Macy’s really understand the customer and that’s the advantage of having both bricks & mortar and eCommerce.”

One of the units which will sit as a group in Macy's beauty department to guide customers through different scents
One of the units which will sit as a group in Macy's beauty department to guide customers through different scents

Dvir also shared with Shoptalk delegates other beauty innovations from Macy’s, including an augmented reality (AR) interface on its mobile app. Created by Modiface the solution enables customers to virtually try on makeup. The retailer also announced that it will extend AR technology to fashion in the coming year.

Referring to ROI from technology investments, Dvir said: “You definitely want to make sure the conversion is there, but it’s also about the experience – it’s hard to track conversion when a customer is [in store] trying on endless lipsticks and buying one, but it’s hard to buy lipsticks online when there’s berry and cherry… how do you take the different colours and bring it to life online?”

Macy’s also decided to shake up the in-store experience in its NYC flagship beauty department on Harold Square, where it changes the store design every three months to keep the experience fresh and interesting. Currently, the retailer has a Sweet Shop theme featuring mini and travel products, as well as selfie stands and a claw grabber arcade game where customers can try to win samples.

But it isn’t just the customer experience Macy’s is prioritising, the retailer has also created a new online platform called Beauty Playground, which allows its 13,000 beauty advisers to use iPad devices to enhance their beauty knowledge through a content hub featuring news on products, trends and events. The video and editorial content is created by micro-influencers which happen to be Macy’s employees who are considered beauty experts internally and create content for the site. After investing in the Beauty Playground, Macy’s has seen an increase in retention of its in-store beauty advisors.

Meanwhile, in fashion, Macy’s has 1,000 “micro influencers” which are employees who use their own social platforms to share clothing trends.