Beauty retailer Sephora epitomizes a customer-centric brand by combining smart tech and digital savvy to create one of the best customer experiences in today's marketplace. So it's no surprise that the LVMH Moet Hennessy-owned brand is further challenging itself (and competitors) by launching its own social media site, Beauty Board.
Blending concepts seen on Pinterest and Tumblr—both of which Sephora has mastered—Beauty Board will enable e-commerce purchases from Sephora's website through tagged product photos.
"The concept is that pictures are everywhere, and we know that beauty lovers love to see ideas for looks and products to buy," commented Julie Bornstein, CMO and chief digital officer of Sephora Americas. "Beauty Board is taking a lot of what consumers at large are doing and making it more practical—a place for consumers to browse for inspiration and discover products to buy at sephora.com."
Sephora's online communities—Beauty Talk, The Glossy, Sephora TV and its Sephora To Go mobile app—are all integrated into Beauty Board, which streamlines user log-ins to all of the brand’s social media and shopping options with a single username and password in one highly visual, engaging digital experience. “Social shopping has evolved over the last few years, and we think this is a definite next step toward linking social media and retailing,” Bornstein told Women's Wear Daily.
Sephora has been a visionary beauty retail concept since its founding in France by Dominique Mandonnaud in 1970, the first “unique, open-sell environment” offering “an ever-increasing amount of classic and emerging brands across a broad range of product categories including skincare, color, fragrance, body, smilecare, and haircare, in addition to Sephora’s own private label.”
The brand was also one of the first retailers to trial product vending machines and benefits from a retail partnership with JCPenney stores in the US.
Sephora integrated with Pinterest and Instagram in 2012, also launching an updated mobile site and a program to bring iPads to the store's sales counters and give sales associates iPod touch POS systems.
“We were one of the first brands to roll out a mobile point-of-sale system, which has helped us expedite lines,” said Johnna Marcus, Sephora’s director of mobile and digital store marketing, according to Digiday. But the biggest challenge “is maintaining loyalty. People are empowered with all the information out there. So the challenge is about how to make sure you’re not being commoditized. That’s the reason why our promise is so different. It’s not just about our products. It’s also about education and serving as a resource to customers.”
Sephora leverages the entire customer eco-system to drive loyalty, with its Beauty Insider program attracting millions of customers online and to its physical stores.
Sephora is also branching out into entertainment marketing with this month's launch of its Divergent themed makeup collection in a partnership with Lions Gate Entertainment for the first of three potential movies based on the bestselling book trilogy, a move that is similar to CoverGirl’s partnership with The Hunger Games.