She showed me how Sephora is using augmented reality on signage and other items in the stores. You aim your phone at the sign, and the sign has virtual items that pop off of it.
In another demo, I saw how you can virtually try on lipstick. You aim your phone at your face and then click on various products and shades.
Fantastic stuff, but our conversations went a lot further. Sephora has developed a color match system that keeps track of not only your purchases, but your color preferences, so that you can easily match other products in the future.
This community includes both employees in stores as well as everyday customers, who discuss Sephora products. On an associated site called “Beauty Board,” they show off their latest makeup and discuss how they did it. http://gallery.sephora.com/
Sephora uses those communities to discover new trends, like contouring, and then quickly develop new products based on those trends and get them into stores. Bridget showed me one such product aimed at the contouring trend they discovered several years ago, and said they’re selling tons of those kits.
They also use beacons to let customers automatically bring up their shopping lists when they enter the stores, among other features. But, they also said they were proceeding very carefully with such features because they don’t want to freak out customers or make them feel uneasy with tracking technologies.
Like other innovators who are using beacons, such as the Coachella music festival, this team focuses on delivering utility to customers and making sure they aren’t freaked out.
One last thing that got my attention — they aren’t pushing augmented reality as hard as other apps on the market are.
This is because they want to make sure the quality of the experience matches Sephora’s brand promise. Colors must match exactly to what the products actually deliver.
Sephora is hugely important to the future of retailing and you regularly see their work demoed on stage at Apple and other keynotes. They’re worth paying attention to, and I was so happy I got the chance to do a live video with this incredible team.