The beauty industry is one where personalization and experimentation can come together and flourish. This is why it comes as no surprise that beauty retailing in the US is evolving, as consumers are turning towards mobile technology while shopping for their favourite products. New research reveals that 45 percent of beauty consumers prefer to consult their smartphone for product information while in-store rather than asking for assistance from a sales associate.
So, why the desire to go digital?
For starters, customers are already on their phones. Before even walking in the door, customers are using their smartphones for every kind of micro-conversion. These micro-moments are important for retailers to acknowledge, as they can influence decisions at any point during the purchasing process.
If the consumer gaze is now locked onto handheld devices while in-store, what is being done to capitalize on it?
For starters, Sephora’s ‘Virtual Artist’ mobile app allows customers to virtually try on thousands of their lipstick colours to see which one is right for them. The app also has an in-store mode, which allows the customer to scan a product to read its online reviews and ratings. Given this handheld technology, one might wonder whether sales associates are in as much of a demand as they used to be.
Consumers are also gravitating towards their smartphones to cut costs. Research shows that 58 percent of beauty consumers are interested in mobile apps that provide product offers to redeem in-store. Sephora’s Virtual Artist app can actually perform this function as well. Members of Sephora’s Beauty Insider program are able to view the number of points they’ve earned and check for any pending rewards. This allows consumers to track spending and reap the rewards. This ability to track purchases may also allow for more efficient spending. This is practical considering that 63 percent of consumers are purchasing with the intent of replenishing or replacing products they currently use.
The push for going mobile in-store is also supported by companies who are introducing charging stations and free WiFi.
Luxury retailer, Neiman Marcus is the first of its kind to provide accessible charging stations and WiFi to its customers. Neiman has also decided to expand their partnership with their current provider, ChargeItSpot, which allows customers to securely charge their phone while they shop. This summer, the company is expected to have installed ChargeItSpot kiosks in 30 of its 42 stores. This is an advantageous move for the retailer as it might increase shoppers’ time in-store and possibly attract those who otherwise would not have walked in. If customers are enticed to use their mobile devices, then it seems fair that retailers provide a space suitable for both offline and online activity.
As the beauty market’s consumers are becoming more dependent on virtual assistance, the more of an impact personalization can have on in-store purchase decisions. Beauty retailers should assume that their customers are connected at all times and should look to leverage behavioural research to optimize the in-store experience, which will ultimately drive sales. It’s a win win.