I have never been a big makeup person. Don’t get me wrong -- I need it and don’t ever go out without it, but I stick to the basics. I am an athlete, so that complicates the attention I choose to give to makeup. The surplus of options and brands Sephora offers is intimidating. Primer, powder, bronzer, and mascara is the combination and extent of the makeup I consistently purchase but unlike most people, I am a true loyalist. For me, Sephora is the best place to go because I know they will always have the brand I love: Laura Mercier. I am loyal to Sephora and buy all of my products at their stores or online. Here’s where I think they are delivering a great customer experience and opportunities for them to turn passive makeup purchasers into frequent shoppers.

Create a Consistent Experience

While a makeup artist at Sephora helped me find the combination and tone that fit my skin best, she was sure to plug their Beauty Insider loyalty program. I was aware of the program, but not a member myself. I would always go into the store and have my sister help me pick stuff out, and then pay separately once we got to the register. She had a membership and would always come home with more products than me, despite spending the same or less. As most people know, good makeup is expensive, and I wanted to get in on these perks my sister had been coveting, so I finally joined the Beauty Insider Program. As a member of the program, for each dollar you spend in store, online, through their mobile app, etc. you accumulate a point. The points can then be cashed in for special samples of different products.

Know Your Customer and Introduce Them to New Products

Earning points based on dollars spent is a quick reminder of how much money you’re dropping with Sephora. The first time I rounded up enough points to get something from the program, I wanted to make it worth it! I got this mini mascara, but it fit my eyelashes terribly. It made them blotch together and look like I had a total of four eye lashes top and bottom. Definitely not a positive product experience, and I wouldn’t buy it as a full size. Other than going online and writing a product review on the website, there was no forum for me to give Sephora this feedback. I didn’t receive a survey or a follow up about my trial size, which would have been a great way for them to promote a different mascara or learn that I wouldn’t purchase that in the future. And if they knew that, they would also know there would be no need to send me any promotions or advertising around that product. Based off of what I have purchased, the videos I have watched, and the photos I have liked, they should have a clear sense of the products and content I like and what type of buyer I am.

Nail Social

While scrolling through the Sephora Twitter page, I found a link to their 90-minute classes that teach the “no-makeup, makeup” look. No one wants to look like they have loads of makeup on, so this is something that would certainly catch the eyes of former, current or potential customers. I personally would never sit through a 90-minute video, but I know some people who probably would. I’d much rather be given a list of products to use and in what order.

But what did catch my eye was a Tweet: “First thought when we heard the break up news: pass the tissues,” with a picture attached saying, “Why didn’t we wear waterproof mascara today?” So many people have those experiences where they’re having a tough day and unexpectedly cry or profusely sweat. Reading, “why didn’t I wear waterproof mascara?” immediately triggers memories in people’s heads and takes them back to times they’ve made the same mistake. And it took me all the way back to last weekend when I was caught in a rainstorm walking to a bar. Due to frantically wiping my face as I approached the door, the mascara got on my cheeks, which then got on my hands and eventually ended up on my white jeans. That’s not the first time something like that has happened and probably won’t be the last, and seeing that post reminded me to go buy waterproof mascara.

With the proper technology, Sephora could ingest a steady stream of social and interaction data and analytics to tie back social interactions to a single customer profile, gaining insight into the greater conversation in order to remarket to their best (and worst) customers.

sephoras-customer-experience.jpg

Be Personal

I know people who have all levels of interest in makeup, ranging from obsessed to couldn’t care less. I live with someone who has close to twenty brushes of all different shapes and sizes, 10 different lipsticks, every shade of blush, six different lotions...and the list goes on. With her free time, she scrolls through Instagram to watch 50 second videos on new ways to do her makeup. She is actually the only reason I have any amount of knowledge on this topic. Then, there are people in the middle category, which is where I fall. I have the basics, one of everything, and do my makeup the same every time I apply it. Which finally brings me to some of the girls on my hockey team who don’t own a single piece of makeup. Although they don’t own makeup yet, they might want to in the future if and when they have different lifestyles.

If the girls in this last group were to visit the Sephora website, they would be completely lost. Going onto the website blindly is similar to visiting the Sephora store for the first time. You have no idea what is going on. For someone who doesn’t know or care much about makeup, you feel instantly overwhelmed and want to just walk right back out of the store.

If Sephora could recognize a first time visitor to their site and provide an introduction to the basics of makeup, they’d be able to ease someone in by pointing her towards the necessities. Or if they knew someone was a frequent shopper, they could provide a recommendation of the latest and greatest products, up-selling someone who is an experienced makeup user. Exposing customers to customized content throughout their shopping process would create a more seamless, personalized experience, rather than treating everyone the same.

Sephora is not alone. Most retailers have several different systems where customers can interact -- an eCommerce site, a mobile app, a storefront -- resulting in a fragmented view of customers behaviors, preferences and interests. In order to meet and exceed customer expectations, retailers need to know holistically what each customer is about financially, product-wise, behaviorally, and more.

New Call-to-action