Sephora’s new 11,300-square-foot space in Herald Square is a glittering homage to social media, virtual makeover technology and traditional in-person beauty discovery, which has been at the core of the retailer’s message since its inception almost two decades ago.
“It’s an incredible milestone for Sephora,” said Deborah Yeh, Sephora’s Senior Vice President of Marketing on Thursday evening at an event marking the store’s opening. “We love creating immersive and inclusive experiences….[which] leads to an engaging and smart, interactive retail experience like no other. It represents an incredible integration of digital and retail.”
The location, which is Sephora’s largest in North America and features the retailer’s most robust assortment of products (13,300 to be exact), replaces the former Sephora location that sat just a few storefronts away on Manhattan’s commuter and tourist-packed street. Dubbed a Beauty TIP (Teach, Inspire, Play) Workshop, the concept store joins six other next-generation Sephora outposts, including San Francisco’s Powell Street; Boston’s Prudential Center; Chicago’s Michigan Avenue; Santa Clara’s Valley Fair; Toronto’s Yorkdale locations; and a new location on 5th Avenue in New York City, which opened last week.
“There is no doubt that New York City sets the standard for destination shopping and that’s why in 1998 we opened our very first store in North America in SoHo,” said Christie Jack, Sephora’s Executive Vice President of Retail and Education. “We will have a stronger-than-ever representation of trends, cult favorites and must-haves.”
Fitted with a number of high-tech gadgets and hybrid makeup/virtual beauty stations, all designed to bridge the gap between online discovery and offline trial, the outpost is designed to help customers along the purchasing journey by empowering them with personalized information, like skin moisture levels and preferred fragrance families. The star of the store’s many innovations is The Beauty Workshop, a shiny, candy-apple red workspace equipped with mirrors and beauty products, iPads, USB ports and Wifi, where customers can view digital tutorials and virtually test lipsticks, eyeshadow and even lashes.
“We are unabashed product junkies and are here to celebrate incredible trends and the amazing products brought to you by our brand partnerships,” said Deborah, adding that today’s beauty consumers are seeking more than just brands they love, they are also looking for community gathering centers and creative spaces, which the new Sephora TIP stores are clearly looking to deliver.
Consumers can also gather at The Beauty Workshop for group beauty classes and to browse through Sephora’s Beauty Board, a user-generated platform that allows selfie-inclined visitors to upload images of themselves in Instagram-esque fashion. The images are then immediately sent to Sephora.com, where customers around the country can browse and even shop specific Sephora products based on looks they like.
“[The Beauty Workshop] really allows our clients to get inspired, to learn, [and] to play, all from their seat,” said Sephora’s Senior Vice President of Digital, Mary Beth Laughton. “What a fun way for our clients to be together with other clients, as well as our cast.”
Another noteworthy innovation is Sephora’s new Tap and Try technology, which allows consumers to uncap “lip and lash products” and scan them directly onto their face through a combination of Sephora Virtual Artist technology and a proprietary scanning technology. Tip and Tap stations are located on two makeup endcaps, giving consumers instant gratification and mess-free product trial, alongside a traditional product assortment for in-person browsing.
“For us it really starts with our client,” said Mary Beth. “We want to make sure anything we are introducing in-store is really going to enrich and enhance her shopping experience. It’s not for the sake of doing digital… it’s really to help our client.”
Sephora 34th Street, whichis also the first Sephora store in the country to carry La Mer and Jo Malone, also features twin Sephora Beauty Studios for consultations and makeup applications. Offering both Sephora + Pantone Color IQ touchscreens, for complexion and lip color matching, as well as a new, exclusive digital tool called the Moisture Meter–which measures the amount of moisture in a client’s skin–are meant to help the consumer make informed shopping decisions.
“We feel this will revolutionize the way she shops for her skin care knowing that information,” said Mary Beth, underscoring that clients will be recommended skin care and makeup based on their skin hydration profile and shade matching results. Meanwhile, the Skincare Studio offers consumers the opportunity to get mini-facials and skin care consultations, and to interact with Sephora’s skin care IQ digital experience.
Towards the back of the store sits an interactive Fragrance Studio, fitted with Sephora’s Fragrance IQ service, enhanced with a “first-to-market sensory technology” called InstaScent. The system utilizes a dry air delivery system to deliver 18 fragrance families to customers, who can sample favorites, and even have their bottles engraved at no additional cost.
“[The Fragrance Studio] allows our clients to search for fragrance and really understand first what type of scent family she loves before she picks up the products,” said Mary Beth. “It’s a really fun and interactive way to get into our fragrance world.”
In addition to the many amenities on offer, Jack revealed with upwards of 150 Sephora employees in this store alone, more than 25 simultaneous dedicated consultations can occur within the store at any point.
“That is an unparalleled amount of unbiased, complementary and elevated services here in the heart of Manhattan,” said Christie. “I want to underscore that a best-in-class retail experience is grounded in our people; the passionate, professional, dedicated people that work for us here in Sephora. Inside this store is the largest team in North America, in fact it’s so large it’s treated as its own district.”