ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Commerce Daily in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out our topic page for the latest mobile commerce news.

Sephora borrows from Tinder’s playbook with swipeable mobile shopping tools

Sephora is bookending its recent sales-driving initiatives with two new mobile-first platforms, which enable consumers to use a fill-in-the-blank model to discover their ideal beauty product and leverage a Tinder-like interface to purchase items featured in favorite looks.

The retailer is tapping into the popularity of dating application Tinder – which enables users to swipe through individuals’ profiles to pass or complete a match – to showcase its Sephora Collection products in a more millennial-friendly light and simplify the shopping experience. Sephora is also introducing the Beauty Uncomplicator platform to allow customers to whittle down their preferences in a bid to find the product best-suited for their needs.

“The idea came from our research – that our clients love to shop for beauty, and that it can also be very daunting,” said Deborah Yeh, senior vice president of marketing and brand at Sephora. “Sephora Collection has the advantage of being one of the largest prestige brands available in the market, and therefore we knew we could build something that helps address the joy of shopping, while removing the anxiety that stems from the ‘perfect product’ search.

“With that, we named the overarching brand campaign Beauty, Uncomplicated and used that as our starting line to create differentiated experiences for her to help her choose, like the ‘Swipe It. Shop It’ experience on”

Uncapping new mobile services
Sephora is continuing its ecommerce sales blitz with the launch of two new mobile shopping platforms, the Beauty Uncomplicator and Swipe It. Shop It. Both are available on as well as the brand’s iPhone app.

The cosmetics retailer is ramping up excitement for its Sephora Collection line by effectively showcasing the hundreds of available options and combinations that beauty fans can purchase.

Consumers who have not yet downloaded Sephora’s iOS app can visit the brand’s site and search for the Sephora Collection section. Once they click on it, they will be brought to the private-label line’s homepage, where they will stumble upon the Beauty Uncomplicator.

The new tool invites visitors to fill in the blanks to find the ideal beauty product. First, users must choose the type of item they are searching for, such as a lip liner, liquid foundation or eye brush.

Completing that action will prompt the mobile-first platform to adjust the next two sets of fill-in-the-blanks, which ask for more details.

For example, a customer searching for new liquid foundation will be able to indicate whether she would prefer natural or medium coverage levels and select her primary requirement for the foundation, such as the ability to blend as she builds it or having the product stay on through happy hour.

Once all three fill-in-the-blanks have been completed, individuals can opt to see their results, which will display the top two Sephora Collection items satisfying their requirements. Beauty fans can then browse the products and purchase them directly from Sephora’s site or mobile app.

Taking on Tinder
Sephora is also leveraging Tinder’s popular interface with its Swipe It. Shop It. tool. The platform refreshes a featured image of a beauty look every few seconds and encourages consumers to swipe right if they like the look, or swipe left to pass on it.

Sephora will display looks showing off the latest beauty trends, such as metallic eyeshadow, false eye lashes, creamy lip stains and retractable waterproof eyeliner. Consumers can interact with the platform by swiping left or right for as long as they like. At any point, players can tap the “See Your Looks” button below to view all of their congregated favorite looks and purchase the featured products.

Individuals may also swipe right on desired looks to view video tutorials and application tips that can be saved for future reference.

The Swipe It. Shop It. platform brings a gamification element to the experience of shopping on Sephora’s mobile site or app, a notion that will likely entice its millennial fans and promote longer browsing sessions.

“Leveraging Tinder’s popular ‘swipe it’ feature is a fun, interactive way for consumers to shop for the [Sephora] products that appeal to them – right from their phones,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at Boston Retail Partners.

“Sephora’s three-step questionnaire, the Beauty Uncomplicator, helps people find the right makeup and tools, which is a creative gamification strategy to boost engagement. According to BRP’s surveys, gamification is becoming a common strategy to engage customers, as 85 percent of retailers indicate that they plan to use gamification within five years.”

Sephora is also planning to establish a presence on the Tinder app itself by becoming the premier beauty marketer to leverage the dating platform’s new polling feature in an upcoming campaign. Tinder users will be able to swipe right on beauty statements shown within Tinder to discover their ideal product match.

For instance, an individual may encounter an ad bearing the phrase, “I want a formula that’s smoother than a pickup line.” She can then swipe left or right to disagree or agree with the statement.

Another ad unit prompts a Tinder user to take a poll to unlock a deluxe sample offer.

“The Tinder polling experience allows [the user] to answer beauty statements to find a product match, all from her own Tinder feed,” Sephora’s Ms. Yeh said. “The creative used is the new brand experience that is diversified across all of the brand expression points, including in-store, online and on mobile.”

The introduction of these new mobile-first services come on the heels of a fruitful few months for the cosmetics retailer, which has been heavily innovating within mobile commerce.

Sephora recently doubled 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).

The beauty giant is also continuing its efforts to tap into new ways of monetizing millennial-friendly mobile platforms, enabling its Snapchat followers to purchase products featured in live stories by taking a screenshot and downloading the ShopStyle app (see story).

However, its Tinder-like shopping experience will likely entice scores of customers to interact with the site and app for longer periods of time and complete more checkouts after receiving their personalized product suggestions.

“Tinder is a hot app for dating and social meet-ups and represents an untapped opportunity for millennial-friendly retailers looking for a new forum for advertising,” Boston Retail Partners’ Mr. Naumann said. “Sephora seems like a perfect company to advertise on the Tinder dating app, as young women are interesting in looking their best as they get ready for their next date or social event.

“Beauty products and dating are a natural fit.”