Sephora’s world leading digital platform


As an increasing number of consumer-facing brands begin to think about how all of their digital touch-points work together to provide a consistent experience, best practice examples are being focused on by marketers. Some of those examples are stand-outs. American beauty brand Sephora is a great example of a cosmetics retailer that doesn’t use technology to overtly focus on the transaction, but to develop how customers interact with their brand. By using technology to focus on customer needs and making their lives easier, they have gained a powerful following that has resulted in sales, fierce loyalty and passionate advocates.

Using data to improve customer relationships

Sephora took a leadership position early on and quickly moved beyond the hype of social media. It is now a brand that uses insights gained from customer engagement to invest in intelligent personalised interactions. For example, Sephora uses Facebook primarily for customer service, and invests more in Pinterest as a marketing platform focussed on inspiration and communication. In other words, they have a specific and clear strategy for each social media platform.

The marketing team at Sephora noticed that Pinterest users were saving their favourite beauty products and inspiration onto boards, organically driving new referrals to their site. To improve discovery and reach, Sephora implemented initiatives such as direct pinning from product pages, direct pinning from targeted emails, and competition campaigns. Their first direct-pin email campaign attracted over 14,000 repins and a 60% growth in Pinterest traffic referrals.

Analytics data from their 200,000 followers is now used to determine the content that their customers want. This, coupled with their focus on sharing beauty expertise has resulted in nurturing an audience that spends 15 times more money on on average than their Facebook fans.

Mobile First

Since becoming mobile optimised and releasing an app in 2012, mobile orders increased by 167%. This now accounts for a third of all traffic.

The Sephora app has been downloaded more than 2 million times and is focused on simple, personalised shopping online, as well as enhancing the in-store experience with features such as barcode scanning to unlock ratings and reviews, and being able to quickly look up personal purchase history. They have taken the best of the website experience and embedded it into a mobile augmented reality experience.

The whole customer journey

Though clearly excelling online, this doesn’t come at the expense of store traffic. Sephora uses the entire customer experience, online and offline, to drive loyalty. Their “Beauty Insider” loyalty program has attracted 10.6 million customers and centres around not just useful digital services, but experiences that customers can enjoy in stores such as beauty classes and shopping events.

The retail industry has been disrupted by digital technology, but Sephora proves that a solid customer experience strategy can open new revenue opportunities without cannibalising the bricks-and-mortar business. They have focused on designing great experiences and providing value to their customers at every opportunity.

But if there is one lesson to be learnt from this brand it is to plan well, be patient and invest wisely. Spend the time building a relationship with your market and the rewards will be significant.

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