Sephora has opened Beauty TIP (Teach, Inspire, Play) Workshop concept stores on 5th Avenue and 34th Street in Manhattan, the latter now the cosmetics chain's largest store in North America.
The Beauty TIP stores feature a centralized Beauty Workshop workstation, a table where clients come together to learn via group beauty classes with Sephora's educated facilitators; to leverage tutorials and Sephora Virtual Artist technology on integrated in-store iPads; or to gather inspiration from The Beauty Board, a shoppable gallery of user-generated content on a large digital screen. Each station is equipped with its own products, iPad, USB port and Wi-Fi, so customers can play, browse and share looks on the digital screen and online, right from their seat.
Each of the new stores also has endcap displays featuring Tap and Try, the Sephora Innovation Lab's newest technology advance, which lets customers pick up any lip or lash product on the endcap and immediately try it on with the help of Sephora Virtual Artist technology and RFID scanning.
Sephora is becoming a pretty extensive case study for how to introduce new technology online, on mobile and in stores, and how to integrate it across formats. It has been very aggressive with chatbots and its interactive Virtual Artist augmented reality application, which it continues to expand with new capabilities.
The Beauty TIP Workshops stores, of which there are now at least seven locations — the two Manhattan stores, San Francisco's Powell Street, Boston's Prudential Center, Chicago's Michigan Avenue, Santa Clara's Valley Fair and Toronto's Yorkdale — bring Sephora's experience with digital technology and social media thinking to brick and mortar. All of these locations have digital signage throughout, as well as brighter lighting, a larger cash wrap, additional mobile POS stations, easier-to-shop fixtures, enhanced gifting stations and more impactful brand imagery, Sephora said.
At more than 11,300 square feet, the 34th Street store could be the most significant as a showcase for new concepts: Not just Sephora's largest North American store, it also has its largest selection of products — more than 13,300 — outside of its website. It also features more than 26 seats for in-store learning at the Beauty Workshop and other Beauty TIP store stations, including the Beauty Studio and Skincare Studio.
One of the interesting things about the Beauty TIP stores is that the whole concept was first introduced about a year and a half ago, which shows that Sephora was thinking right from the start about the big picture of how digital technology and new strategies for engaging customers could affect all of its operations. In the mobile and online worlds, this way of thinking could make Sephora lead retailers into a new era, but in the brick-and-mortar world, it's a survival tactic. If the key to saving brick-and-mortar retail is to provide customers with a completely new and engaging experience, then Sephora's on the right track.