Sometimes, it can feel like it’s hard imagining a future for the high street, for the quaint practises of going into a shop or department store, calmly choosing a desired product, buying it and moving on. Of course, there is no need for abject desperation, but the high profile closures of a number of well-known retailers certainly seems to give cause for concern. The internet is less predictable in its trends, but can also be considered by many to be more profitable… hence the number of retailers and brands that don't cultivate an offline experience at all. However, the in-store beauty shopping experience is far from dead and may indeed experience a revival with the help of new technologies that are revolutionising the beauty shopping experience. Here are some of them:
Augmented reality is a daily part of our lives. It’s in all our phones via the amusing selfie filters that everyone and their grandmother appears to be using. It’s not as though it’s a huge novelty either, where already the brewing of it could be perceived in mainstream culture as far back as, for example, 1995 teen film Clueless (the central character already has a computer programme that picks out her clothes for her). Sephora’s ‘Virtual Artist Kiosk’, though (launched in 2017) went a step further and acted as a draw to those wanting to experience all the ease of online shopping and all the fun of actually going to the shop and trying something new in comfortable surroundings, with the immediacy of purchase sort of technology that two years later, we’re still not wholly accustomed to seeing in stores. Virtual and augmented reality also allows customers to see themselves in the beauty products and cosmetics they want without trying on and wiping off a dozen different options, making the experience easier and quicker.
Smart Shopping Cart
Not strictly for beauty and cosmetics at all, truly, but the smart shopping cart certainly captures the imagination with the way it helps the in-store shopping experience. After all, the retail technology could also definitely be adapted to the in-store beauty shopping experience too. The smart shopping cart is one that knows what items you put into your basket and tallies your bill as you shop. In essence, doing what can already be done online but adapting it and streamlining the checkout experience in-store in a similar manner. This would mean being able to skip any long queues for the checkout in a way sure to improve both the customer shopping experience and store efficiency. Caper is an example of a company spearheading this technology, using AI to improve customer experience.
Not quite reality just yet, and mostly still in development, but printed cosmetics are looking to make a splash in the near future and there appears to be two major forms of technology that use the idea of printing. The former, notably utilised by the Japanese technology brand Panasonic is based on the idea of combining a ‘smart mirror’ with 3D printing. The technology will scan your face and make recommendations using the data gathered from the smart mirror, before then directly printing makeup, in-store, even at the concession stand. This makeup is then created and engineered entirely for the individual consumer in-store. In many ways, similar to the way makeup would have been created for the individual customers before mass production, but without the drawback of the subjective eye, with more efficiency. The latter is an even more futuristic-sounding technology, pioneered with ‘The MODA’ by Foreo, which goes even further, printing directly onto the face of the customer. How? Essentially, it’s a machine that facially scans the user, then uses 2,000 superfine nozzles to dispense makeup directly onto skin. As you can imagine, both of these technologies would start by predominantly working in-store.
Certain brands already have interactive screens at the concession stands where customers can have a look to see if the product they want is in stock or to find out what ingredients and provenance the product might have. It can also help to navigate a retailer's stock looking for what they want rather than what brand they want it from: for example, a fruity smelling perfume as opposed to knowing they want to try something from Prada. That said, these interactive screens don't always help with choice paralysis and often fail to be in-depth. This is also where Beauty Matching Engine helps revolutionise and improve the beauty shopping experience in-store. Beauty Matching Engine can provide a personalised profile quickly and efficiently and find the products that best suit the customer's needs, even if they don't know exactly what they are looking for.