Most retailers interpret mobile to be an extension of the desktop online/ecommerce experience. Sephora understands that mobile is not just a convenient storefront, but it is a personal assistant.
When looking closely at consumer behavior, people are using their smart phones in many ways. It is common for someone to check and send a work email, make plans with friends, post something to Instagram.
Sephora’s willingness to participate, and enable their customers to engage with them throughout the purchase cycle is driving their growth. The beauty retailer will see growth of 150 percent in mobile this year, significantly outpacing the rest of the industry.
“Maybe her experience with us starts with something fun” says Johnna Marcus, Sephora’s director of mobile and digital store marketing. The customer could be browsing Pinterest or tumblr looking for inspiration, or on the company’s website to pick-up a new technique.
The process of discovery may not lead to an immediate sale, but may lead to a bookmark. Consumers can click on a heart by each product pic to add it to her ‘loves’ list.
“Maybe she’s not ready to throw something in her cart right now. We don’t typically do that, so she takes the products she likes and adds the to her loves list. After dinner she hits up her iPad to consolidate her purchases or shopping list there,” continues Marcus.
The love list, of course, ties in nicely with Sephora’s Beauty Insider loyalty program, accessible and connected cross-channels. Like many loyalty programs, Sephora offers discounts and gifts with purchase to its members, tracks purchases and items the customer has favorite.
Not only a significant data tool for the retailer, but it is also a strong organizational tool for busy customers. “Our clients are juggling a lot of things”, with lists aiding in the research and pre-shop phase that many customers cycle through.
Sephora also offers My Beauty Bag, which is essentially a collection of a customer’s past purchases. Items like the color of foundation purchased and your favorite mascara are stored for quick purchase without having to go through the process of selecting the right shade each time.
Sephora has had over a year of mobile POS in its stores, and learned some key lessons in the process. There needs to be sufficient space to accomplish a mobile check-out well. The interaction (data collection and upsell) between the cashier and customer still needs to happen well, and packaging/bagging product also requires a certain degree of care.
Overall, Marcus indicates its been a great experience in-store, particularly in their Beauty Studio where they host their services like free 15-minute touch-ups, etc.
“She can make a decision about what she wants and what she wants to save for later without having to put her back in line”, Marcus says.
ENABLING THROUGHOUT THE PURCHASE CYCLE
Regardless of where the customer checks out, Sephora is aiding the beauty purchase experience. First by providing content that will inspire and educate the customer, the retailer is facilitating a bit of fun, and some of the research involved in a pre-shop.
Gathering the lists of items the customer wants to try, and her past purchases make the “ready-to-shop” experience organized and efficient. Maybe that customer transacts and complete her purchase online at this point. Or perhaps she heads in-store where she can continue her research, interact with staff, and purchase there.
Sephora is a true customer-centric retailer in this multi-channel approach – one of the few who don’t seem to mind where the customer purchases, and will do everything to give her an excellent beginning to end experience.
Marcus: “We want to be where our clients are. If she wants to come in-store, we want to be there for her and provide really great customer service.
“But, if she doesn’t have time or if that is not what she wants to do, she can get inspired and put together her lists and maybe to transact and complete [online].”
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