Merchant Innovation

Sephora Channels Beauty Offerings To Delivery

FTC Settles With Sunday Riley Over Fake Sephora Reviews

The online and brick-and-mortar beauty retailer will try its hand at bringing its offerings to consumers’ doorsteps with a new subscription-based service.

The online and brick-and-mortar beauty retailer will try its hand at bringing its offerings to consumers’ doorsteps with a new subscription-based service.

The company’s new beauty box subscription, called “Play! By Sephora,” will be rolled out in select marketing later this year, Racked reported late last week.

The service will cost $10 per month and will provide customers with Sephora samples, "Play! Pass" coupons for in-store activations and extras such as Spotify playlists. Each box will also come with a “Play! Book,” designed to give subscribers' application tips and access codes for mobile shopping and additional content.

According to Harper’s Bazaar, the Play! By Sephora service will be available in Boston, Columbus and Cincinnati this September, with plans to expand into other markets next year.

The retailer’s latest move will put it in direct competition with subscription-service beauty box mainstays like Ipsy and Birchbox.

But while Sephora is busy getting its beauty delivery service off the ground, Birchbox is aiming to capitalize on the trend of numerous online firms moving into physical locations.

“The flurry of online retailers entering the physical world signifies yet another paradigm shift in beauty retailing,” Karen Doskow, consumer products practice director at consulting firm Kline, said in a statement last month announcing the company's "Beauty Retailing USA: Channel Analysis and Opportunities" report.

“While everyone else has been flocking online, online pure plays are becoming physical. Omnichannel retailing strengthens both ways as retailers and marketers strive to offer channel agnostic consumers the convenience of shopping in physical stores and online,” Doskow explained.

Birchbox, which remains a well-known player in online subscription sampling, opened its first physical location in New York City in 2014 and recently announced plans to grow its brick-and-mortar presence by opening two more store locations in 2016.

This planned expansion is actually just the latest in Birchbox’s ventures into offline expansion. The company announced a partnership with Gap earlier this year, which will include the opening of seven Birchbox pop-up shops in flagship Gap retail locations across the country.

The company confirmed its interest in the physical channel is rooted in the fact that offline customers typically show three times the lifetime value.

Birchbox is just one of several eCommerce stores experimenting with offline customer engagement in different ways, such as the launch of jewelry eRetailer Blue Nile’s “webroom” storefront and Amazon's Treasure Truck, which can be found roaming Seattle neighborhoods offering one-day deals.

While there is no argument over the growth of eCommerce, it seems brick-and-mortar offerings may still be able to hold their own in the retail space.

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