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Mary Kay uncaps sales via beauty consultant-geared virtual assistant app

Cosmetics brand Mary Kay is rolling out a mobile application geared specifically toward its direct sellers, enabling the independent beauty consultants to manage their inventory, create sales tickets and order new products while on the go.

Mary Kay’s myCustomers+ app acts as a virtual assistant for its beauty consultants, who can leverage the mobile tool to access digital inventory and enhance face-to-face transactions with buyers. The beauty brand, which maintains one of the largest direct-selling communities of color cosmetics and skin care products in the world, is currently expanding its suite of digital platforms by attempting to transform consultants’ smartphones into always accessible mobile offices.

“At the sales level, Mary Kay relies more on people than technology – it’s an inherently personal business, and the sales rep is the most powerful tool Mary Kay can put into the field,” said James McNally, senior manager of business development at Prolific Interactive. “At the same time, an app that provides utilities like inventory management, and allows reps to build richer customer profiles, is without question a step in the right direction.

“If apps can do more sales than reps and do them better – and allow better data aggregation at the corporate level – then direct selling companies unquestionably should pursue them.”

Personalized customer service
Mary Kay is attempting to simplify its direct sellers’ experiences by enabling them to operate their businesses entirely from their mobile devices. The Mary Kay myCustomers+ app, which is available for iOS and Android smartphones, allows beauty consultants to create sales tickets, service customers while on the go and manage current inventory.

App users may manage, create, filter and save orders directly from their mobile devices, and create a sales ticket for an interested customer in a faster amount of time.

If an individual has a question about a specific product or wants to order an item in a particular color, the beauty consultant can scan the product package with the myCustomers+ app to receive more information, instead of having to manually type in the item’s name or number.

To update their inventory, direct sellers may scan the Mary Kay shipping label. Additionally, consultants can set up app notifications to alert them when the quantity of a particular product is low, or when a valued customer has a birthday or anniversary coming up.

This enables the consultant to congratulate the customer, and potentially suggest several new products to commemorate the occasion.

Customer profiles are more easily located within the app as well, letting users search for a person by first or last name, profile date, order date or tags.

Brushing up on customer communication
Mary Kay’s beauty consultants will be able to sell more confidently by leveraging the app to communicate regularly with customers and foster long-lasting relationships. App users can text, email, call or write a note to a customer to check in and see how she likes a new product.

Furthermore, direct sellers can send group messages or emails to customers who will not be able to see the multiple recipient list, enabling them to believe they received a personal communication from the consultant.

Placing a strong emphasis on mobile-enabled customer communication is a strategy that has been tapped by a slew of other leading beauty marketers in recent weeks.

British pharmacy and beauty chain Boots is further integrating mobility into physical stores by leveraging IBM’s MobileFirst platform for its iOS app, enabling associates to browse inventory, give product recommendations based on online analytics and look up ratings and reviews (see story).

Meanwhile, Sephora is doubling down on augmented reality and artificial intelligence sales tactics by enabling shoppers to virtually try on false lashes, watch tutorials using their own image and engage via a chatbot to trial and purchase lip color (see story).

Ultimately, Mary Kay is well-poised to see a small jump in revenue – as well as valuable data – following the app rollout.

“Sales reps and powerful marketing psychology are what really drive Mary Kay sales, but apps represent an opportunity for Mary Kay to empower its sales force,” Mr. McNally said. “It is not going to fundamentally transform the business, but I would expect it to help salespeople be more effective.

“Regardless of what the short-term impact on revenue is, it will definitely be worthwhile for Mary Kay to dive into the data to see how reps are operating and get a sense for how technology can continue to help the brand sell.”