“Stores are a powerful way to bring experiences to life for people,” says Sephora EVP of Omni Retail Mary Beth Laughton. But since the beginning of her career during the dot-com boom in the ’90s, Laughton knew digital media was going to influence consumer behavior. In her seven years at Sephora, she has been working to integrate everyone into one “omnitude” mindset — with the common goal of customer centricity aligned across departments, regardless of the shopping channel they serve.
Armed with the “omnitude” mindset — “the idea that we’ll do whatever we can to delight our consumer wherever she is shopping with us,” Laughton says — Sephora uses a mix of technology and personalization to enhance the shopping experience. For example, a customer can get their skin scanned to find the perfect foundation matched for their skin color. Makeover sessions done in stores are electronically captured in a digital makeover guide, where store associates can scan each product used for later reference and one-click purchase.
Stores are integral to the success of the strategy: Three-fourths of customers interact with Sephora for the first time in a store. Product returns from ecommerce transactions also bring in traffic, creating new opportunities for beauty advisors to interact with customers. Laughton’s team began measuring the return-to-exchange ratio at stores and realized “people are longing for personal connection,” Laughton says. “When they come into one of our stores, that's when they can interact with our beauty advisors. They can get this really personal, amazing advice.”