Daily Dose of iQ: Sephora’s In-Store Social and Mobile Makeover

High-end cosmetics retailer Sephora is using integrated technology to ramp up its in-store experience.

Sephora today rolled out what it’s calling a social and mobile makeover,’ ” wrote TechCrunchs Colleen Taylor (April 8).

The updates include a newly overhauled website with ultra specific search functionality, spruced up mobile web and iOS app, and a commitment to install iPads in more than 100 of its physical stores this year. The company has also developed an official integration with Pinterest, having added Pin It’ buttons to all of its brand and product pages.”

The Good:

  • Sephora is embracing current social media trends and giving users the ability to link their in-store shopping to their social networks -- using specific integration with Pinterest and Facebook (via iOS).
  • The number-one reason customers buy a product is because they tried. The number-two reason? Friends’ recommendations. Having reviews available in-store, especially if they are from your friends, is a huge selling feature.
  • Sephora is not afraid of negative ratings. The fact that there is no barrier means customers say what they think. The company feels that by empowering its consumers to speak up, it can also collect genuine and actionable feedback. By making itself accountable, Sephora keeps its finger on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s not in cosmetics.
  • This is a great way to integrate loyalty card holders and give customers additional value: e.g. What was that sample you tried last time? What did you buy last time?

The Bad:

  • There is potential that participating customers could feel their reviews are being moderated.
  • Content from what I could see (in the TechCrunch video) seemed a bit lacking. There are reviews, but the addition of ads and more information from manufacturers could help usage. The solutions need to be more enticing to use.

Take-home message for retailers: 

The world is changing and social shopping and mobile checkout are in their infancy. Retailers have to change or become obsolete. Connecting” with your customers via technology is important and retailers that do this well will have a decided competitive advantage. Sephora is taking a lead here.