Last week, Sephora topped L2’s fifth annual Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail for the third year in a row. Behind the Genius’ success is a channel-agnostic, loyalty-based shopping experience few retailers have been able to replicate. Members can access their purchase histories and Beauty Insider points on the desktop or mobile, and use it for repurchasing and redeeming rewards in-store or online. They can create shopping lists while browsing online for an easier in-store experience, and look for items in a specific Sephora location.
The desktop experience is immersive. Almost all product pages online have embedded video, fan pictures and sortable reviews. The site recommends products and skincare regimens based on the results of a diagnostic test, and offers video tutorials under the how-to tab. Visitors can post questions and read answers on the discussion board Sephora’s make-up experts respond to.
Sephora’s Genius becomes even more evident when compared to the online innovations of specialty retailers (or lack thereof). While the brands in the category have made strides in adoption of user-reviews and e-gift cards, product videos and live chat show little improvement from 2012 adoption rates.