Sephora Debuts New Digitally Infused Store Format

Sephora's new NYC flagship is its biggest store yet.

Sephora makes a big bet on technology to provide the kind of disruptive retail experience that will drive sustained growth.

Inside the beauty oasis that is Sephora in Midtown Manhattan, there has been a lot of tapping going on lately. Not so much the kind of tapping one does with blush brushes or mascara wands, but tapping on high definition screens.

That’s because when Sephora opened its largest store in North America in New York City this year, the beauty retailer christened a new format designed to appeal to today’s beauty shopper. At the new, larger version of Sephora — 12,000 square feet on 34th Street — the retailer installed dozens of sleek new iPads for shoppers to use. It put in a high-tech makeover station that complements Sephora’s mobile apps. And the retailer added a skin care studio with digital technology that measures moisture on skin.

The new store concept — called Beauty TIP, which stands for Teach, Inspire, Play — is designed to leverage technology to create an in-store beauty playground for shoppers that is un-matched by any other retailer.

“We are completely redesigning our store experience to reimagine it for our client today and into the future,” said Calvin McDonald, president and CEO of Sephora Americas. “By fusing hands-on service and technology, we’re creating a new experience that will teach and inspire, while allowing clients to play with beauty. And this is just the beginning. Even as we introduce this concept to new stores and renovations, we are continually making enhancements that will consistently make the Sephora beauty experience more fun and fulfilling for our clients than anything they will experience anywhere else.”

This culture of innovation is a big reason why Sephora, which has 2,300 stores (and more than 600 stores in the U.S., including JCPenney outlets), is the No. 1 specialty beauty retailer in the world, according to Euromonitor International, which tracks beauty sales. Today, Sephora says it is focused on leveraging digital technologies toward a singular focus: to create an outstanding shopping experience for its customers, whether in-store or online.

“We have a lot of exciting ideas about how we want to create experiential retail,” Calvin McDonald said. “We have over 20 million clients, or as we call them, beauty insiders. We focus on building an emotional relationship with clients, instead of discounts or promotions. This emotional relationship is what will drive loyalty long-term.”

Click here to read the full story from our sister publication Retail Leader and learn more about the next-gen tech Sephora is stocking its stores with to blur the distinction between digital and physical retailing.

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