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How Sephora Is Advancing Omnichannel At Its New ‘Beauty Workshop’ Store

Simply adding digital 'extras' to outdated brick-and-mortar setups isn't effective, says president and CEO Calvin McDonald.

Beauty products purveyor Sephora is expanding its “Beauty TIP Workshop” concept, opening its first Canadian store in a move that signals the chain’s ongoing commitment to building innovating digital experiences in-store.

Beauty TIP Workshop is essentially both a store and showroom, allowing customers to purchase cosmetics from diverse brands like Bite Beauty to Tom Ford as well as receive custom skincare tips and access digital beauty tutorials.

According to GCI Magazine, the expanded Beauty Studio in the new Toronto store offers complimentary makeovers designed by Sephora + Pantone Color IQ touchscreens, which provide recommendations on foundation, concealer, and more. And on the perfume side, Sephora has reportedly installed touchscreen “Fragrance IQ” to allow shoppers to digitally search and browse fragrances.

With these updates aimed at blending the digital and the physical, it appears that Sephora is trying to follow the advice given to many “traditional” retailers in the mobile age: Revitalize the physical store concept with digital tactics. But Sephora Americas president and CEO Calvin McDonald makes a distinction: This isn’t about “being omnichannel” for the sake of appearing current, nor is it about simply bringing tablets and technology into a retail store that still looks straight out of 1985.

“Our focus with the Beauty Tip Workshop… [is] not about trying to reinvigorate brick-and-mortar strategy that’s not working,” McDonald told GCI Magazine. “That’s not the Sephora way. It really is how we’re imagining the brick-and-mortar to continue to evolve our experience for the client, which is a full ecosystem of dot-com, mobile, and the brick-and-mortar.”

The expansion follows Sephora’s decision to partner with messaging app Kik, as well as last year’s launch of the Sephora Innovation Lab — both moves that foreshadowed the brand’s willingness to experiment with digital integrations while still investing in and expanding its physical footprint.

As Sephora’s Bridget Dolan told GeoMarketing at the time, “[We want] to be able to move fast and optimize our shopping experience for the shifts in consumer behavior — and help define what the future of shopping will look like over the next five and ten years.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of GeoMarketing.com. A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.