Sephora: more beacons will be rolled out but need time to evolve

Sephora: more beacons will be rolled out but need time to evolve

Beauty retailer Sephora has said that while beacons provide opportunities for more personalized in-store experiences, more time is needed in order to devise the best engagement strategy to make the most out of the android technology.

Venkat Gopalan, Senior Director of Architecture and Development at Sephora, spoke during the Sephora Success Story: Optimizing Mobile & Instore Digital Shopping at the Mobile Shopping Summit 2015. After trialling beacons in around 15 to 20 stores, there are plans for the LVMH-owned company to roll out more in the future.

However, initial findings were that there was more work to be done to make them more successful. According to Gopalan, “We want to make shopping extremely personalized and beacons are magical. We are able to target them when in the store with welcome messaging, reminders about their mini-makeover session. There are still a few learning lessons that need to happen. This is an evolving space that needs a little bit more time. As Android comes to the market, it will evolve.”

The benefits of beacons come in all shapes and sizes. For example, if a shopper is browsing in a particular department, Sephora could send a message about offers related to that department. Likewise if consumers are reaching a threshold on their reward scheme, the company could trigger a message explaining how to earn a reward.

However, as mentioned, there are hurdles to overcome. Firstly, consumers have to have their Bluetooth enabled on their phone in order for messages to be received, likewise they have to have the Sephora app downloaded onto their phone. Other problems include the speed of shoppers; if consumers are walking fast it’s get a message to them.

Goplan said, “People walk fast. If they walk so fast from one department to another, it is pretty tough to message them. Most of them also carry their phones in their purse.”

Beacons are by no means the first bit of mobile media the tech-savvy company has launched, with the company being a leader in mobile retail. Other key areas of focus for Sephora are loyalty, wallets, social media and payments. Indeed, a key focus for 2015 was tying together all the digital elements in order to provide an omnichannel experience for shoppers. There is said to be an increased push from the company for omnichannel and mobile payments in the future.

“For the last couple of years, we have taken more of a mobile first approach,” said Gopalan. “When Apple Pay came out, we rolled it out on our app and in all of the stores. When Passbook, which is now Apple Wallet, launched, we were there. It is pretty interesting – we have a loyalty card in that wallet. A key initiative as mobile payments picks up, we will be looking more at wallets.”