Target uses AR to enhance beauty

Beauty Products Stock Photo
Target launches AR in its beauty department. (Jackf/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Target has introduced a new platform to help consumers navigate and test beauty products. According to "A Bullseye View," Target's corporate blog, the new initiatives blend physical and digital to create a unique experience for the shopper. 

Called the Target Beauty Studio, the augmented reality experience, built in partnership with Perfect Corp.'s YouCam Makeup, uses real-time facial mapping technology to try on lipstick shades or other products. 

“Retailers need to be innovative, and incorporating AR in a meaningful way accomplishes this," Mai Kang, VP of research operations at Fuel Cycle, told FierceRetail. "Target has potentially found a way to break the barrier of consumer hesitation of buying things online without trying on a product—adding AR components to 'put on' the makeup takes away the need of going to the store, providing a try-and-buy experience all on your phone. In addition to this stress free and convenient experience, you get additional product information, suggestions on related products, etc."

Joshua March, CEO of Conversocial, agrees that innovating experiences are imperative to keeping a customer base and that AR is a great place for Target to start. 

“With more and more choices, especially online, retailers need to figure out how to help customers navigate that choice; storytelling efforts involving AR is a really great way of doing this," March said. 

The service is being launched in 10 stores via digital screen in Target's beauty department. The retailer will roll out the offering to more stores later this year. 

Kang notes that convenient and thoughtful shopping experiences like this endeavor help to build a loyal customer base. Plus, it draws more consumers to the Target App as well.

"This is going to help merge and align the digital and physical space so that they are one homogenized experience," she said. "Operationally, it can reduce amount of returns, optimizes warehouse space, which is a win, win for both the customer and the retailer.”

Target simultaneously launched beauty advice services available via mobile or desktop. On the cosmetics or skincare pages, a consumer can use the chat icon to talk with a Beauty Concierge in real time. Or a Concierge can be reached via text on a mobile phone. 

"With the goal of increasing the overall customer experience, enabling consumers to have real-time interaction with Target experts over web and mobile is also a huge step in the right direction—again, it's all about navigating through a complex number of choices; if ease of use and meaningful engagement are laced into the consumer experience—they will keep coming back," March said. 

While March acknowledges this step, he notes that Target should look into more modern messaging technologies instead of traditional SMS and webchat. 

"If they [Target] used Messenger, they could have a seamless experience across both web and mobile, and would be able to include interactive elements and product information in the conversation much easier than over traditional SMS and chat," he said. "As the company looks to streamline these efforts, investing in the Messenger Customer Chat plugin is viable next step. Messenger Chat would replace traditional live chat on the Target website and enable those real-time conversations to seamlessly shift to asynchronous conversations in the Messenger app, a really incredible experience for consumers."