Beauty retailer Sephora is rolling out beacons, iPhone-based augmented reality and an Amazon Prime-style shipping service as part of a "digital experience" makeover of its U.S. stores, according to Forbes.
The new omnichannel retail features are tied to the opening of Sephora's new Innovation Lab in San Francisco, which will develop new strategies and technologies for in-store and mobile shopping. The development lab hopes to draw on the "collective creativity" of Sephora's 14,000 U.S. employees to enhance the chain's digital future, Sephora Americas CEO Calvin McDonald said in a prepared statement.
Sephora has 360 standalone North American stores, 420 Sephora shops in J.C. Penney stores, and 1,780 locations in 29 countries worldwide. It's not clear whether all of the new digital features will make it to all those retail locations.
But in U.S. stores, beacons will be rolled out nationwide after testing in some San Francisco stores, delivering personalized alerts to customers who have signed up for the program. Messages will include birthday alerts, loyalty program updates and notifications about new in-store beauty training events.
The chain is also launching Sephora Flash, an Amazon Prime-like service that offers customers free two-day shipping on all products for members of Sephora's Rouge Beauty Insider loyalty program who spend more than $1,000 with Sephora in a year, or an annual fee of $10 for non-members.
The digital rollout also includes two smartphone-based features. Pocket Contour, developed with Map My Beauty, is a mobile-browser-based system that analyzes a customer's photo and then gives personalized step-by-step guidance for face contouring, a fast-growing beauty trend, including product recommendations.
And a new feature for the Sephora-to-Go iPhone app, which will launch in April, will let customers point a phone's camera at the images of nine female founders of cosmetic brands featured by Sephora, located in store windows and display cases, to show founder interviews, product videos, YouTube playlists and product pages on Sephora.com. Roughly 70 percent of Sephora's customers also carry iPhones, and the retailer rolled out Apple Pay in November both online and in store.