The LVMH-owned retailer opened its first “connected” store concept in Paris, its fourth in France, offering a digitally-enabled experience with many new in-store services.

The new generation of Sephora stores has arrived in Paris, nearly one year after the retailer piloted its concept, the New Sephora Experience, in other parts of France.

The choice of the Paris location was highly strategic: Gare St Lazare, in the 8th arrondissement, is the French capital’s second busiest railway station (after Gare du Nord), handling 275,000 passengers daily. The sprawling, 9,000-square feet store, which opened in February, features a Beauty Hub with digital apps to test products, shoppable connected terminals, as well as many new services for time-pressed travelers.

“With an avant-garde and ultra-stylish design, a more desirable customer experience and an omnichannel approach, Sephora has reinvented the beauty shopping experience offering an addictive playground where customers can discover, learn, play, share, and shop using brand new tools,” said Stephane Delva, Marketing Director, Europe and the Middle East, for Sephora.

The starting point for the New Sephora Experience concept was a drive to address, and anticipate, new consumer expectations.

“Through a large quantitative study, we identified different types of consumers for Sephora: passionate millennials of makeup and beauty tutorials; prestige users in their 40s looking for the most advanced novelties; and women wishing to be pampered and guided to discover what suits them best. For each, we imagined and reinvented a customer journey. Once these journeys were defined, we initiated the work on design,” said Stephane.

In the case of the Paris store, this meant creating an authentic city vibe.

“We gave the new Sephora St Lazare an urban twist, leaving the ceiling structure exposed and using concrete in combination with glass to remain elevated. Light plays on the glazed material while adding a mineral effect to the overall look,” said Stephane. “A super impactful hanging structure above the Beauty Hub, with metal rings with micro-perforations, is the beating heart of this store.”

The Beauty Hub is indeed the epicenter of Sephora’s store innovation.

“Digital is the centerpiece of the customer experience with new makeup,” said Stephane. “As part of its intention to become the most fun and connected place to shop, Sephora has developed countless services that are available at the Beauty Hub on iPads in order to learn about beauty, whether alone or with a little guidance, and in a straightforward style,” said Stephane.

These services include a Virtual Look Book, a digital catalog of looks for eyes, complexion and lips, that gives inspiration and helps pinpoint trends. “A clear and well-presented index, as well as tutorials, can be used to create a personalized beauty program, which is then sent to the customer by email.”

“Virtual Artist is a way to virtually test thousands of potential beauty looks on an iPad. The looks can be revealed on a giant Beauty Board. Color Profile, developed in association with Pantone, is a tool to help choose the right foundation shade with almost scientific precision.”

Makeup lessons on specific themes, such as contouring and strobing, are also held for groups at the Beauty Hub.

“Beauty Board is a social media platform that can be used to photograph particular looks, like them, tag the products used, and then share them live with the entire beauty community. Get inspired, get tagged, get shared! Customers can find inspiration and featured looks on the big screen at the Beauty Hub.”

Skin care has also been given special emphasis in the St Lazare store.

“We have strongly elevated our visual merchandising to enrich the storytelling on each brand, heroing their best products and their newness. We have introduced new destinations such as the #Wanted, where we unveil the hottest products on social media such as Farsali or Ouai hair care, or the new Skincare Market, where we offer ultra-desirable mini products. We also introduced a new Styling Bar, where Amika provides hair services.”

Additional new services at the St Lazare store include the Sephora Collection Mask Bar for face, feet, hands, lips and eyes, where customers can receive an express application. There is also a free in-store engraving service that personalizes perfume bottles, palettes and lipsticks.

The New Sephora Experience launched in March 2017 in two pilot stores in France. Results were so promising that the concept was deployed in 15 additional stores in Europe and the Middle East within nine months, including a 14,000-square foot flagship in Barcelona. The rollout continues in 2018.

“I love that each store has its own strong personality,” said Stephane.