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Brief Published: 20 Nov 2015

Sephora's Micro ‘Flash’ Omni-Store


French beauty chain Sephora has debuted a new store concept on Paris's central Rue de Rivoli, which merges its formerly separate physical and digital experiences in a compact version of its regular retail format.

The 1,076 sq ft space is around four times smaller than the average Sephora store and stocks only a limited range of products – its bestselling cosmetics. However, the full range of 14,000 items can still be accessed via touchscreens.

The most notable aspect is a dual browsing concept, which is highly attuned to the fact that most global consumers now shop across multiple channels (US analysts PricewaterhouseCoopers' 2015 research shows that 86% currently shop across at least two channels). Consumers can place items in a physical basket, or access a digital one by using a near-field communication (NFC) card dispensed at the store entrance by diminutive robots developed by French tech company Aldebaran.

By placing the card and the desired product onto one of the 'connected' in-store screens, consumers can access extra information about the product, and add it to a virtual basket. Payment for both physical and digital purchases can be made at the counter, with the option of having items that are not in stock delivered to a designated address, or picked up in-store at a later date.

Other digital features include a selfie-mirror that allows shoppers to take photos of themselves wearing Sephora make-up and share them on social media, a mobile charging station (see also Commuter Commerce), and a digital sample distributor dubbed Le Mini Beautic, which allows shoppers to select free samples of their choosing after checkout.

For more on personalised beauty retail strategies, see Bespoke Beauty: New Retail Strategies, Teen-Targeted Beauty Retail, Rethinking Beauty: Digital and Selling Beauty Online. See also New Transactions Technology, The Omni-Channel Store Space and Tech-Fuelled Retail Spaces.