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Sephora’s Black Friday mobile sales spike 300pc YOY

Sephora has developed several new initiatives and tools in the past year that are developed specifically with smartphone and tablet shoppers in mind. As more retailers increasingly turn to mobile to streamline the shopping experience, Sephora is seeing that mobile can actually be used for conversions.

“I think the larger trend is that shopping from mobile is really not a myth,” said Johnna Marcus, director of mobile and digital store marketing at Sephora, San Francisco.

“People are not just browsing or just starting [on mobile] – they really are buying,” she said.

“I think the trend makes a lot of sense because mobile is really this device and capability that makes your life easier. Where it serves a purpose and where it can help you streamline or get through things, I think you’re going to move to that.”

Mobile is king
According to Sephora, mobile and tablet sales generated one-third of the brand’s digital sales over the Thanksgiving weekend.

In particular, tablet sales jumped 221 percent year-over-year.

Ms. Marcus attributes two factors to Sephora’s mobile Black Friday success: personalization and curation.

First, the retailer’s mobile site and app are set up so that they are personalized and customized for individual shoppers. For example, Sephora’s mobile properties let shoppers access past purchases and view favorites.

Additionally, Sephora launched a new feature in June called My Beauty Bag, which is a collection of past purchases and a wish list (see story).

These types of features are particularly geared towards streamlining the gift buying experience during the holidays.

Sephora also saw a 300 percent increase in sales made via tablets on Thanksgiving Day.

Compared to past years, the new trend for 2013 was that more Sephora shoppers bought via their tablets than smartphones on Thanksgiving Day.

Additionally, mobile had a larger impact on Cyber Monday sales, suggesting that consumers were still buying via their smartphones and tablets while at work.

Sephora’s Cyber Monday sales were up 135 percent this year compared to 2012.

With more retailers emphasizing online shopping this year, mobile had a greater role for many retailers this year.

Since tablets tend to be used more at home, the devices became the first place for consumers to shop from on Thanksgiving.

“Our typical Sephora client is such a busy person anyway – she’s got a lot going on during a typical day, and this time of year and Thanksgiving in particular is even worse, so I think it just comes back to it’s this device that’s really close to her and relevant for being in the home that made so much sense, and I think she decided to get a jump on her shopping,” Ms. Marcus said.

Future holiday trends
Going into the rest of the holiday season, Sephora predicts that there will be a growth in consumers that are using mobile in-store to use features such as a digital loyalty card.

Mr. Marcus estimates that up to 30 percent of Sephora shoppers will use their mobile devices in-store this year.

Additionally, the beauty retailer expects that there will be more online gift card sales than sales of plastic gift cards this year.

Sephora has updated its digital gift cards so that consumers can add a photo or video as well as more than a dozen designs.

“We were expecting a really big Black Friday weekend, and hopefully everyone has a busy holiday coming up,” Ms. Marcus said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York