PYMNTS MonitorEdge May 2024

Shop Talk: Face Haus COO Says In-Store AI Boosts Service

Shop Talk: Face Haus COO Says in-Store AI Boosts Service

As artificial intelligence makes its way into more parts of retail, Face Haus, which is making a business on its personalized expertise, is using the technology to enhance that in-person service.

Namrata Gupta, the facial bar’s chief operating officer, discussed in an interview with PYMNTS how the chain’s partnership with Perfect Corp. to offer AI skin analysis, is meant to complement the personal expertise the chain’s estheticians offer. The service is intended to enable consumers to get more out of their one-hour visit.

“We wanted to provide, within this 60-minute time frame, especially for the newest customers, … something more that they could take with them,” Gupta said. “Obviously, what was most critical was the rapport between the esthetician and our new guest, but then also, what could they take away post-treatment.”

Gupta noted that the offering, which the company is calling SKIN IQ, uses the AI solution provider’s technology to show consumers what the esthetician sees under the magnifying lamp and offers insights into how best to treat their skin conditions.

The combination of face-to-face (as it were) service and digital efficiency, Gupta noted, is “a balancing act for sure,” and the chain is making a point of training its estheticians to not just perfunctorily show consumers their AI reports but rather to walk the customer through what they are seeing.

“That’s how we have folded in the tech element with the high-touch element of an esthetician,” she explained.

Many shoppers are interested in receiving tech-enabled recommendations about their appearance from in-store devices. PYMNTS Intelligence’s “How We Will Pay Report: How Connected Devices Enable Multitasking Among Digital-First Consumers” drew from a survey of more than 4,600 U.S. consumers to understand how they are using connected devices in various parts of their lives. The results showed, for instance, that 34% of connected device owners would be interested in receiving product suggestions from smart mirrors in dressing rooms.

Gupta said she sees AI playing a larger role in the beauty space going forward.

“You’re seeing it play out with makeup selection, color selection … and robotics — getting a manicure by a robot at an airport,” Gupta said, referencing robo-nailcare company Clockwork’s in-airport locations. “It’s a pretty interesting experience, I would say. All of this is launching. It’s out there now.”

Overall, technology has a place in consumers’ self-care routines. The latest PYMNTS Intelligence study, this year’s edition of the “How the World Does Digital” report, examines the digital behavior of 67,000 consumers across 11 countries accounting for approximately half of the world’s gross domestic product. The report revealed that around the world, the average consumer engages in 34.9 digital activities related to wellness per month. That figure skyrockets to 51.1 for millennials and 57.8 for Generation Z.

“What I’m curious about is what are the tools out there that we could use as estheticians to really, you know, get one step further?” Gupta said. “…It’s got to have a high-touch and a high-tech component to it in the future. It just can’t be one or the other.”

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