Sephora has captivated the hearts of millions of beauty shoppers worldwide, and has recently been expanding its retail stores at a fast rate. But what impresses Sephora’s competitors is how it managed to survive the retail apocalypse?
The closing of countless retail stores all across the U.S started way back in 2010, and to tell the truth, it has only worsened following the global pandemic crisis. Around 10,000 retail stores closed in 2019 alone. Factors that led thousands of stores to close in the last couple of years were:
- The cost of rent skyrocketing.
- The expansion of malls.
- The delayed effects of the Great Recession.
- The significant change in how Americans started to spend their money after the pandemic hit.
Founded in 1970 by Dominique Mandonnaud, Sephora was the first to come up with the try-before-you-buy concept. The idea turned out to be so successful, most beauty retailers today have implemented it in their business.
Nowadays, while the retail sector is struggling to survive, Sephora is listed as one of the few businesses that are flourishing by the day. But, what’s the secret behind the company’s ongoing success?
One thing Sephora was quick to act upon was keeping up with the advancement of technology. The company launched its first website back in 1998 and was one of the very first to do so. It didn’t take long for Sephora to revamp its website, which offered high-quality visuals, better product descriptions, and a vague customer support mechanism to try and help clients with any troubles they had with their purchased products.
Entering the digital world so early gave Sephora the advantage to quickly adapt to both web and mobile platforms. Experimenting with what met their customers’ needs at the early stages of the digital era led their websites to be unmatched by their competitors. Sephora Virtual Artist is one of the websites features the company has to solve the solution of costumes to try on makeup at the comfort of their own homes. Sephora remains as successful as it is today because it focused a lot of its energy on making a digital transition and made it an executive priority.
Sephora team leader Julie Bornstein revealed that during his days working with the company, he always kept one thing in mind:
“If you’re going to be a successful retailer — or business in general — digital must be enmeshed at the highest level.”
In late 2020, Sephora took another big step in its digital retail transformation by creating an Omni-retail department. The company did this by uniting its in-store and digital retail teams together. Sephora realized that customers are focused on entertainment and experiencing the products they purchase. As a result, they aren’t strictly focused on switching back and forth between brick-and-mortar retail stores and online stores.
According to Glossy, this change allowed Sephora to improve their company both in-store and online. One of these improvements, for example, is after customers finish their in-store makeover, Sephora assistants download the beauty products for the client to have them saved on their phone. This is done to protect the client’s time and effort to order the products online or buy them in retail stores in the future. As a result, Sephora is way ahead of its game when it comes to customer satisfaction.
In 2015, the company launched the Sephora Innovation Lab to discover technologies that can help increase customer satisfaction through physical retail stores, mobile app, and across the web. The lab has a team of its own and is currently focusing on discovering technologies that help educate customers about makeup, application techniques, and their products. A clever strategy that the company uses when launching its technology is perfect timing.
There have been several cases when Sephora refused to launch certain technologies just because they realized that the customers were not ready to adapt to them yet. An example is when Sephora refused to launch product scanning until late 2017 even though they set up the technology way back in 2010. The reason why they did this is that scanning products weren’t a thing a decade ago. Plus, Wi-Fi usage was still vague, and most homes and businesses didn’t use it.
In a world where people are so different, and the number of industries is so vast, knowing who your potential clients are is the only way to succeed in business. With the new digital era, precisely knowing who your audience is will not only save you money on marketing and advertising but will also make your business boom. For example, Sephora boosted its target audience by partnering up with other big tech companies such as SocialCode to launch a campaign with Facebook’s Collection ads.
The partnership helped Sephora gather data on customers’ previous purchases, geographic regions, age, gender, personal interests, and cosmetic preferences. After the campaign, Sephora added different languages and currencies to their mobile app and store.
At the very core of Sephora’s experience, technology and product, the company goes beyond simply just satisfying customers by launching high-quality products. Instead, they focus more on giving their customers a different experience and giving them good memories that will keep them hooked and coming back for more.
By maintaining laser customer focus and keeping up with modern times, they will always stay ahead of their competitors and continue holding the №1 title for the most successful cosmetic retail in the world.