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Sephora exec: Mobile orders up 167pc year-over-year

NEW YORK – A Sephora executive at Mobile Marketer’s Mobile FirstLook: Strategy 2013 conference said that its customers are increasingly turning to mobile to shop, browse and purchase products and the retailer is continuing to make the medium a top priority this year to further enhance shopping experiences.

During the “Sephora: How the World’s Largest Retailer of Fragrances and Beauty Products Views the Future of Mobile Retail” keynote session, the executive addressed Sephora’s focus on mobile this year. Last year, the luxury goods conglomerate invested heavily in the mobile space to reach consumers no matter what device they are using.

“Our shoppers are absolutely mobile shoppers,” said Johnna Marcus, director of mobile and digital store marketing at Sephora. “It’s where they go when they want to research products.

“We are on mobile because that’s where our customers are at,” she said. “It’s absolutely critical.”

High engagement
According to Ms. Marcus, Sephora is seeing two clear trends.

The first is email rates. More than 50 percent of the company’s email opens come from smartphones and tablets.

Secondly, a third of’s traffic comes from mobile and tablet devices.

It is important for marketers to not think of apps, mobile and tablets as separate things. Marketers should think of the customer experience and what supports that experience.

For Sephora, there are two typical customer experiences, which include researching a product and being inspired to shop.

Research, for example, is huge for the company because it is highly beneficial and a motivator for customers.

Consumers always have their mobile devices by their side. Therefore, it is a natural choice for them to rely on it for research before they make a purchase.

“Customers don’t view mobile, tablets, Web and stores separately,” Ms. Marcus said. “They are ways for consumers to shop when and where they want.

“There’s a couple of things that are critical when you try and sell beauty products through mobile,” she said. “Ratings and reviews are a big piece of that, as is good photography and the ability to cross-channel.”

Year ahead
2012 was a big year for Sephora.

In December, Sephora customers were shopping – and converting – on the go. Mobile orders increased 167 percent last year and mobile traffic was up 75 percent.

Furthermore, eGift Cards played a big role for the company over the holidays. Mobile gift cards are becoming a growing trend..

Through the initiative, consumers are able to buy and send gift cards virtually, as well as add them to their Passbook.

Sephora also included push messaging in its holiday strategy to alert consumers about holiday shopping events and product launches.

The alerts were beneficial because it helped the company keep users up-to-date on the latest, sales, deals and events.

Sephora also launched its Endless Aisle effort in-store, which featured 11 gifts for hassle-free holiday shopping.

Through the campaign, consumers were encouraged to scan a QR code using their Sephora to Go iPhone app and purchase the product. Sephora shipped the item directly to the recipient right after.

In addition, the retailer also invested heavily in mobile wallets and was one of the first companies to integrate its presence in Apple’s iOS 6 launch.

Through Passbook, Sephora customers can import both their Beauty Insider card and Sephora gift card.

Passbook displays current Beauty Insider points and is part of the company’s ongoing strategy to make earning and redeeming seamless.

Currently, there have been more than 1.1 million app downloads since Passbook launch.

Moreover, more than 400,000 Beauty Insider passes were created in the first 90 days.

Sephora also saw significant increase in Beauty Insiders signing up via its mobile app.

According to Ms. Marcus, mobile payments are still in the very early days. Ultimately, consumers must realize a benefit from any technology, then they will adopt and define who the front runners will be.

“You have to think of mobile as the ultimate personal shopper,” Ms. Marcus said. “Regardless of what retailers do, your customers have smartphones and they are using them in-store.

“Smartphones will become more important in the customer decision process,” she said.

Sephora is making mobile the ultimate personal shopper by addressing 3 common challenges, which include “Can’t find what’s new in-store,”

“Store employees don’t know me” and “What to research while I shop.”

Sephora’s priority for 2013 is to continue to evolve its mobile capabilities to enhance its client experiences in areas such as Passbook, mobile gifts and apps.

“Mobile is a really powerful tool.” Ms. Marcus said.

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York