Sephora revamps website, mobile apps to integrate in-store and online experiences

Sephora launched a personalized, targeted website, mobile site and in-store experience and integrated Pinterest fully into their e-commerce platform on April 9, said Bridget Dolan, VP of interactive media at the company.

Sephora worked with Branding Brand to develop its mobile app, Dolan said, while the website revamp was handled in-house.This is the largest overhaul of the site since its launch in 1999, she said.

Sephora’s reengineered web platform will allow customers to search for highly specific product criteria, Dolan said, with the goal being to bridge the in-store and online shopping experiences.

“A lot of the information we gathered was from how we would ask for that information in a store,” Dolan said of the new, targeted online search, adding that customers can search across 25 different criteria including age group, SPF, skin type and more. “We have all the expertise of Sephora’s staff built into a web interface, and that’s extremely powerful.”

In the new system, online searches and purchases will saved into a customer’s profile if he or she is one of the 18 million members of Sephora’s loyalty program, Beauty Insider. It’s an opt-in service, Dolan said, because Sephora recognizes that not all consumers want to be tracked. Currently, 20 Sephora stores will have several iPads on hand, from which store associates will be able to pull customer data to help them with purchases, she said, as part of a test group.

“We really see mobile as bridging the in-store experience because customers walk into the store with their phones in their hands,” she said. “There’s a lot of rich information you have access to on the web. Why not leverage that in stores?”

The data collected through online searches and purchases will allow Sephora to target customers through email campaigns, too, Dolan said. “Some of the emails that we send could have up to 50 different versions and they are targeting your skin type or what you’ve bought recently,” she said. “We think it makes it more enjoyable to open your email when it’s really relevant to you.”

“We needed to really have a robust website experience that would transcend shopping on the web and bring it to mobile so that you have exactly what you’re looking for wherever you are,” she said.

The company also fully integreated Pinterest into its website, meaning that all products have a “pin-it” button for easy use. Pinterest is now the second-highest social media driver to, Dolan said, after Facebook

“The future of shopping is all around digital,” Dolan said. “We know a lot of retailers are shaking in their boots. We see it as a huge opportunity.”

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