Macy's revamps in-store beauty to challenge Sephora
Macy's shoppers are beginning to see new beauty displays in stores fostering product discovery in what the retailer says is a "more open environment." Brand-agnostic "Beauty Advisor Picks" are being displayed both from Macy's beauty experts and other customers.
The changes complement the department store's The Edit effort in stores and online, according to a company press release, and select stores will also feature YouCam Makeup magic mirror kiosks, which will allow customers to try on over 250 makeup items virtually.
This week the retailer is hosting hiring events in cities including Chicago, Minneapolis, the New England area, Philadelphia, New York, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Miami, Seattle and Los Angeles, in order to fill 1,000 full-time and part-time beauty advisor jobs in stores nationwide, Macy's told Retail Dive in an email.
Beauty sales are increasingly dominated by specialty retailers like Ulta and Sephora, along with online upstarts like Birchbox, and that has decimated one of the last remaining non-apparel store sections at department stores.
Sephora years ago sparked the disruption of the old-school beauty counter in Europe, sweeping away the controlled, compartmentalized experience with a more democratic display of high-end cosmetics, self-service trials and expert, brand-agnostic staff, before bringing it to the U.S. Mass merchants like Target, which has revamped its merchandising and added its own human and virtual beauty advisors, are now also stoking the competition.
And now Macy's is finally fighting back. The department store has already established a foothold with its stand-alone Bluemercury stores, one of its best-performing segments. The retailer is also offering a Macy's Beauty Box for $15 a month, including five deluxe beauty samples, plus a bonus sample and $5 coupon to use in-store or on Macys.com.
More recently the retailer is turning its attention to flagship stores, in a major departure from the days when brand-employed experts kept its beauty offerings siloed. Instead, Macy's new beauty advisors have the ability to advise across all brands and categories, the company said. The retailer is calling its new training platform, "Beauty Playground," which the company says ensures that its beauty advisors "are always informed on the latest product and brand recommendations, tips, and influencer insights."
"This format makes comparing and discovering new products easier and allows customers to shop any way they prefer, whether they need help from a Macy's beauty advisor, just want to browse, or prefer to test and shop on their own," the company said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive.
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