Sephora CEO tells Canadian retails: digital is the way forward

Sephora CEO tells Canadian retails: digital is the way forward

Sephora President and CEO of the Americas Calvin McDonald has used his keynote speech at Retail Council of Canada’s Store retail conference this week to warn Canadian retailers that they must embrace the digital boom, or risk falling short in the competitive beauty market.


“What we’re seeing in the US is traditional retail under siege in a fight for survival. Do we have the same sense of urgency in Canada as in the US?” he said during his speech.

Indeed, according to McDonald Canadian e-commerce is falling short of its neighbour North America by approximately five years ‘from a sales penetration standpoint,’ while the country’s major retailers are falling behind ‘cutting-edge’ retailers such as Amazon by around 10 years.

McDonald said that currently many Canadian consumers are purchasing from foreign online retailers as Canadian sites can’t offer what they’re looking for. And, warning that the market is only set to get tougher, he states that digital is the way forward, and not just your average mobile store.

“It’s about truly rethinking the client relationship and how digital is providing an opportunity for you to redefine that relationship,” he said. Speaking about social, online and mobile he continued, “You have to do all three. You can’t do one in isolation anymore. The expectation of the client is full engagement with your brand. We’re building an emotional relationship versus a transactional relationship.”

And with Sephora still being at the cutting edge of digital technology – for example shoppers can try on over 5,000 lipstick shades using its Virtual Artist app – it seems the company is willing to put its money where its mouth is.