In October 2015, Sephora opened its first connected “Flash” store in Paris. The 1,000-square foot digitally-enhanced beauty shop maintains the same “candy store-like” theme the company is known for, now with a digital layer that powers the entire customer experience.
The first thing shoppers will notice is a tiny robot at the front of the store, which greets shoppers and dispenses an NFC card to serve as their own virtual shopping basket. By placing the card and any desired product onto one of the ‘connected’ in-store screens, shoppers can view additional product info and add the item to their basket. Shoppers then combine their online purchases with any physical products they’ve picked up and pay for the entire basket at the cash register before deciding on shipping options (delivery or collect in-store) for the online purchases.
Powered by Connected Retail, the store is about 1/4th the size of a typical Sephora store, but is balanced by the extensive digital catalog that accompanies a small selection of the brand’s best-selling products. Large touchscreens and digital shelves make the aisles and the opportunity for discovery endless, which is key to shopper’s getting the most out of Sephora’s 14,000 brand inventory.
Alongside the usual Sephora services like the Make Up Bar and the Benefit Brow Bar, the new Flash Bar is equipped with a large selfie mirror, a mobile phone charger and a Mini Beautic—the smart sampler distribution system developed by Sephora Lab.
As digital-first pioneers in beauty retailing, Sephora Flash takes a significant stake in the future of retail. This is a model we foresee being the new normal in all sorts of retail sectors, and it fits our idea of a Connected Store by using the physical store as a channel to facilitate the digital experience at its core.