Sephora launches personalized mobile makeup tool

Sephora has been a trailblazer when it comes to creating interactive and personalized retail experiences, both online and in-store, and now its most recent Pocket Contour Class mobile initiative, announced as one of several new digital experiences, has the potential to keep the brand on shoppers' minds well after they've made an eye shadow purchase.

The new mobile app provides step-by-step instructions on makeup application, especially contouring. Users simply upload a selfie to recieve customized instructions tailored specifically to each user. Thanks to a partnership with Map My Beauty, the selfie-driven technology means Pocket Contour Class automatically analyzes users' facial features for a makeup tutorial suited to each unique facial structure. The service is available both on the Sephora to Go app and on its mobile site.

The program is part of a three-month partnership with Map My Beauty that also includes in-store displays focused on contouring. The partnership will run from March 5 through June. The Pocket Contour tool starts by showing users examples of contouring on different facial shapes before prompting them to upload a photo with their hair pulled back and little makeup, and even going so far as to request a favorite makeup brand to source from. After that, the tool walks users through a five-step process to get their best look. And, of course, Sephora suggests specific brands of cosmetic products along the way.

The hope is that the service will appeal especially to millennials, who want more personalized experiences as mobile interfaces become a daily routine.

Sephora has never been afraid to try new things when it comes to improving the makeup-buying experience. The retailer launched its own social network, Beauty Board, early last year to give its shoppers a place to keep track of the cosmetics and looks they like. The retailer also debuted 3D mirrors last summer that let consumers "try on" a look before making a purchase.

Pocket Contour takes the brand a step further than its past efforts by stepping beyond the purchasing process and making Sephora part of its customers' everyday routine. It removes the necessity of going home to watch YouTube tutorials and enables the customer with a convenient, portable platform that offers instant gratification while giving the store a chance to give automated purchasing suggestions.

The retailer also debuted a new innovation lab in San Francisco, where it hopes to cultivate similar forward-thinking ideas and train its next digital leaders.

"Innovation has always been in our DNA," said Calvin McDonald, president and CEO of Sephora Americas, in a statement. "We disrupted beauty by being the first to offer clients access to premium beauty out from behind the department store makeup counters, and we want to keep that spirit and bold tenacity alive. The new lab will tap the collective creativity of our 14,000 employees nationwide, grow the next generation of leaders and elevate Sephora's digital future."

In the same line of thinking that spawned Pocket Contour, the retailer announced its intention to begin employing beacons in-store to better target deals and alerts to shoppers. The company also announced its first augmented reality experience to debut in April, featuring extra content such as informative interviews and videos when app users hold their phone over images of founders' faces in windows and display cases. Further still, the retailer debuted the Sephora Flash program, which provides two-day shipping on all products for a $10 yearly subscription.

For more:
-See this Women's Wear Daily story
-See this Sephora press release

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