The future of beauty retail

The UK’s beauty industry is currently thriving, with sales of cosmetics reaching an estimated £2.1 billion in 2018. Beauty is big business, and as it’s more guided by trends than other consumer goods sectors, the industry needs a makeover if it’s going to keep up with consumer expectations.

A report from Google showed that 66 per cent of cosmetic purchases made by consumers are directly influenced by YouTube. As a result of this, if they have encountered a negative review of a product, they are less likely to purchase from that brand. This means that brands need to work harder to offer new, innovative experiences to potential customers.

Modern shoppers value convenience, which is why augmented reality systems are an attractive proposition for time-poor consumers. Last year, luxury cosmetics brand Charlotte Tilbury introduced its Magic Mirror, the world’s first full-view interactive touchscreen mirror, which allows customers to virtually try on different makeup looks. While traditional makeovers can take up to an hour, a virtual mirror users real-time tracking to allow users to try on multiple styles in just a matter of seconds.

Makeup brands such as Sephora and Rimmel have also launched apps that offer similar technology, allowing users to use their smartphones to virtually try on products from the comfort of their own homes. Although AR beauty platforms may be dismissed as being ‘gimmicky’, they have already proven that they are efficient decision-making tools that provide strong selling opportunities for brands. They offer a solution to reduce in-store waiting times for time-conscious consumers, create opportunities to cross-sell and improve the overall shopping experience.

Brands are also beginning to offer a more personalised experience for their customers. After opening Lush Spa at its flagship Regent Street branch in London, Lush offered tailored packages for consumers who booked in for a treatment, allowing them to choose meditative visuals, playlists and essential oils to make it bespoke. Personalisation benefits retailers as it drives impulse purchases, increases revenue and – perhaps most importantly – boosts brand loyalty. The beauty market is crowded and competitive, so a tailored approach will set brands apart from the competition.

Integrating online and offline experiences is also a great way for brands to improve the in-store experience. Several cosmetics brands have introduced apps that allow users to use their smartphone camera to scan products and find out more information about a product, including ingredients and reviews. It allows customers to make more informed decisions and allows brands to cross-sell other products, by offering either alternatives or corresponding products.

Digital-savvy millennials are the fastest-growing group of consumers and are always looking for the next big thing in both technology and beauty, which is why beauty retail and technology goes hand-in-hand. It’s crucial for retailers to keep up the pace with consumer expectations, so if you’re looking to grow and improve the shopping experience for your customers, find out how we can help.

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