How Sephora managed to never say no to customers again – Business Case > Retail

Nice phygital strategy. This is the reflection that cosmetics brand Sephora has brought back. For several years, it has doubled digital services in its stores, to Creating a seamless customer experienceexplains Elisabeth Zahmer, Director of Marketing in France, “A similar level of consumer experience and satisfaction between the physical store and the online store, with the consistent goal of not creating friction.” Sephora wants to be somewhere else Introduction to understanding the customer journey and personalizing the relationship. Hence the use of digital technologies and methods in its stores, as of 2012. On this date, the brand is testing and publishing in its network, “My Sephora”An application activated with the customer’s loyalty card or name and installed on the tablets of beauty consultants. The latter have access to key CRM information about their customers – their purchasing history and consumption habits, in particular – which they rely on to send their product recommendations, offers or advice.

In the strategy of reconciling the physical and digital experience, the more classic, now (almost) generalized “click and receive” service has also been followed. The in-store direct checkout system for online orders in stores has been deployed for two years, in a “best of the range” fashion, as Elizabeth Zimmer defines it. “We are giving customers the ability to deliver to the store closest to their home, within two hours.” The job was quickly rolled out across the entire network.

Never say no to customers again

But Sephora’s new phygital secret weapon, which was launched a few months ago, is called Sephora Plus. From connected stations installed in stores, the customer, with the support of a sales advisor, can access the entire Sephora offer. “Sephora’s very rich product offering was not reflected in each of our stores, particularly due to the size of the space”, puts the French marketing manager for the cosmetologist in context. Thus, in the absence of products in the displays – due to store capacity, but also due to a possible shortage of stock – orders placed by customers on digital screens are delivered free of charge to their homes, or to an address of their choice, within 48 hours. “This tool completely changes the shopping experience for our customers, as well as for our beauty consultants.says Elizabeth Zahmer. Because the service, which is perfectly integrated with the in-store offer, is a way to never say no to our customers again”. The feature, the pinnacle of the brand’s omnichannel channel, was rolled out at the end of 2017 at all Sephora points of sale in France, including its “connected” stores, inspired by the high-tech innovations of its New York pioneer.

grouped under the name “The New Sephora Experience”, these new generation stores, enriched with digital gadgets and more secret brands, number about ten – including Nantes Atlantis and Val d’Europe (Marne-la-Vallee), two experimental stores, but also Strasbourg, Montpellier and Paris Saint-Lazare. This number is expected to double by the end of 2018. “These new points of sale demonstrate the most complete and integrated customer experience, even if many services are now found across the entire network of stores.”notes Elizabeth Zahmer.

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The store is connected to…community

At the heart of the connected stores is the “Beauty Hub” and its suite of customer services around virtual beauty looks tests. Thus, a digital “Look Book” provides customers with the ability to find makeup inspiration and develop a customized beauty program, while the “Virtual Artist” allows them to test several styles of makeup and products on their iPad or a connected mirror, and choose the shades best suited to their appearance. Developed with Pantone, the “Color Profile” app is dedicated to choosing your shade of foundation, with a recommendation from the many references available within the brand. The space is complemented by the “Beauty Board”, a community platform for liking and tagging used products… and sharing your look on social networks. Appearance images also appear on a display at the point of sale.

And what about tomorrow? Sephora believes in conversationAlways with the aim of providing new experiences to its customers… and communicating with them. Elizabeth Zahmer testifies to this effect: “Google and Facebook both recognize our thirst for innovation and our drive to stay ahead of the curve, which is why Google asked us to be on Google Home and the Google Assistant. With this partnership, we have set goals other than bringing more customer satisfaction with these new tools.”. In the program: book a beauty service, make-up or eyebrow waxing for example, with a simple chat bot “OK Google… I want to talk to Sephora”. But, so is the ability to listen on Google Home to a daily two-minute podcast about the beauty secrets of beauty influencers. But beware, Sephora says no to technology at all costs. “We are always keen to put technology at the service of customer experience and needs,” advocates Sephora’s Marketing Director in France, for which “technology supports the link created between beauty consultants and clients and is, well, involved in customer satisfaction”.

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