Sephora unveils innovation lab, launches new digital initiatives

Sephora officially opened the doors to its Innovation Lab, a team-based facility focused on the future of retail for the beauty brand.

Located in a converted warehouse near San Francisco's Mission Bay, the Innovation Lab serves as a test site for Sephora to build and evaluate digital experiences meant to enhance shopping across all platforms. The Lab includes meeting and brainstorming spaces, as well as a full model of a Sephora retail store, reported Fast Company.

The Innovation Lab team will spend two days a week in the space conducting tests with store associates to ensure that staff knowledge aligns with the digital in-store experience to maximize customer fulfillment.

The launch coincides with the rollout of four new digital initiatives. First, Sephora introduced Pocket Contour, a product that uses a mobile device to teach users the ways of highlighting, shading and other makeup applications according to the user's specific face shape. Customers simply upload a selfie to the app to receive step-by-step contouring instructions and product recommendations fitted to their personal needs.

"This is a 360-degree approach to contouring," Bridget Dolan, VP, Innovation Lab, told Fast Company. "If we're going to tell our clients that contouring is the next trend, we better teach her how to do it. We of course have mini-makeovers in the store where we'll apply contouring makeup, but if you can't do it when you get home, we've disappointed you."

Second, Sephora is launching beacons in all locations after testing them in two San Francisco stores. Customers who enable their mobile device to receive beacon transmissions are sent mobile notifications through the Sephora to Go mobile app, which is linked to a customer's online account to notify them of pod promotions, offer in-store services and display point balances for Sephora's Beaty Insider rewards program.

Third, next month Sephora will launch augmented reality window displays featuring the founders of cosmetic brands carried by the retailer. If customers wave their mobile phone over a founder's face, a video will play telling the story of the founder and their brand.

Finally, Sephora is launching Flash, which is a membership program in which, for $10 a year, customers get free two-day shipping or overnight shipping for $5.95.

Sephora has always been on the forefront of beauty innovation. At the beginning of 2014, the company launched its own social media website called Beauty Board, which allows users to post and tag photos. And last summer the brand unveiled a 3D Augmented Reality Mirror in stores that simulates cosmetics on a user's face in real-time and in 3D.

For more:
-See this Fast Company press release

Related stories:
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Sephora realizes 150 percent growth in mobile
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