How is technology transforming Beauty retail?
Technology emerging as the savior for Beauty retail
As per figures released by Euromonitor International, Beauty retail or Beauty is one of the most promising sectors for the future growth of the retail segment & is valued at USD 9 billion in the Middle East alone.
Our generation is really blessed in terms of technology that we have at our disposal, especially computing devices in the form of smartphones.
My inspiration to write this article comes from a recently concluded webinar wherein I was on a panel discussion with industry leaders and I spoke on the topic of finding a competitive advantage amid cluttered & oversaturated beauty sector.
Making technology initiative – the core of the Beauty retail business.
With the emergence of Pandemic, covid19, the entire world of business has changed.
we are no longer in the world wherein we all had a good time, meeting our customers physically (physical interaction) and getting to know their preferences and behaviors.
The world is now embracing covid19 and adapting itself to live along with it.
The road to recovery is now slow and challenging.
Here comes our biggest friend i.e. Mobile and Web.
Both have the power to transform our current business model and the way we interact with our customers currently.
My article is my attempt to highlight initiatives of such beauty brands in adopting technology as an integral part of their overall strategy and how to find a niche for new aspiring entrants into the cluttered world of beauty.
As consumers embrace technology in their everyday lives, notably through the increasing use of smartphones, the boundaries between the virtual and real-world become increasingly blurred.
Who is driving this digital growth transformation for the brands?
- Consumer’s preferences have gone under transformation during lock-downs which has resulted in giving rise to contact-less transactions using eCommerce.
- Although discretionary spending has reduced post covid19, the market has witnessed a consumer behavioral shift towards safe, sustainable, and reliable products.
- Purchase behavior is shifting from Specialty stores to specialized eCommerce platforms.
Technology playing its role
Demand for high-tech treatments at home has given rise to a range of electronic devices whose claims range from improving the efficacy of skincare products to replicating anti-aging treatments in salons.
Skincare diagnostic tools, from DNA testing to skin analysis, YouTube videos, and diagnostic applications, are all adding to consumers’ experience, both in-store and online, thus affecting purchase decisions.
Diagnostic tools have had a technology make-over and now come in the form of online questionnaires, apps, or in-store devices.
From Sephora’s skincare IQ to Harrods’ Ioma machine, consumers’ desire for customizing their skincare is stronger than in any other category.
Digital apps like OKU (an at-home device and app that analyses skin condition),
L’Oréal’s Make-Up Genius and Klara (an app that sends pictures of consumers’ skin to dermatologists) aim to offer professional skincare analysis in the comfort of consumers’ homes.
Technology in beauty cosmetics playing an integral role in payment processing
Sephora’s latest cooperation with Apple to combine Apple Pay with the Sephora app and create a Sephora Wallet.
Learn how lipstick is being used as an economic indicator, click here.
Customer engagement and Omnichannel experience
One such retailer that transformed its customer engagement and Omnichannel experience is Ulta Beauty, America’s largest beauty specialty store.
Its Connected Beauty vision has allowed Ulta to seamlessly manage real-time inventory across 20,000 products and 800 stores as well as serve customers with in-depth, personalized recommendations, crowd sourced reviews and how-to-videos.
The brand’s Beauty tip workshops actually encourage shoppers to play with products before making any purchases.
Ulta Beauty has taken their loyalty program to a different level by launching a social media platform specifically designed for loyalty members to talk to each other about products and have beauty-focused discussions.
Another brand that is spearheading technology-driven beauty engagement is SEPHORA.
In principle, Sephora’s success comes in part from the retailer’s reputation for always having the newest and best brands.
Both Sephora and Ulta have “really managed to crack what experience in beauty is.” “Experience & technology” is the core of their strategy.
Check out Sephora’s virtual artist cheek try on an app.
New Emerging trend in the Beauty Retail – Organic cosmetics or vegan beauty.
The global vegan cosmetics market size is projected to reach USD 20.8 billion by 2025. (global estimate).
It is growing at a rate of 7% currently (pre-covid).
Increasing concerns regarding health & safety, consumer awareness about the use of animal-tested products, and rising importance is given to environmentally viable products that are likely to stir up the demand for vegan cosmetics.
Beauty Retail – Brands investing in scientific research
Brands like Beauty without Cruelty, MU London organics, and Bare Blossom are investing heavily in research activities.
- Using ingredients that are plant-based.
- Using more fruit based ingredients instead of synthetic dyes.
The sustainability component in packaging like Use of glass containers and recycled paper, no plastic containers etc.
Steps that a beauty retail entrepreneurs or an aspiring retailer need to take to enter the market
-Using smart branding and carefully designed packaging, innovative brands are able to differentiate themselves from their competition;
– Focus the product USP on Vegan & organic ingredients in sync with governmental regulations and industry certifications.
-Using Stories To Stand Out And Get Ahead In The Beauty Industry
-Create your own audience, doesn’t matter how niche that audience is.
-Adapt the Omnichannel approach – sell online as well as a tie-up with some good distributor or retailer for on-ground presence.
-Focus on sampling using technology
That’s what Sampler is intended to fix.
They connect you digitally to the consumers who want to sample your product.
Later, you can follow up with that consumer and turn them into customers and evangelists for your brand.
-Keep pivoting your business by looking at various emerging niches in the segment.
Brand Sweat, provide beauty products to women who enjoy being active and don’t want their look to be compromised
We are moving towards a reality where consumers can easily get anything, anytime, anywhere.
Retailers that do not take the essential first step to differentiate themselves through innovative customer engagement risk becoming irrelevant – forever.
Watch the video which summarizes the role of Artificial Intelligence in beauty retail
About the author:
Ritesh Mohan is a passionate retail professional with over 22 years in the retail sector, handling some of the biggest brands in beauty, fashion, and fragrances retail & FMCG sector. He has been instrumental in the growth of some of the regional brands as well in the Middle East region. He specializes in Retail management, Product development, Brand management, Retail Operations, Sales Management, Business Management & Empowering business owners with his wisdom & experience of around two decades in the industry.
photo credit : Pexels – ali pazani.