News Feature | March 10, 2015

Sephora's Flash Delivery, Innovation Lab Exceed Customer Expectations

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies
Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer


Sephora launches two-day 'Flash' delivery membership

In its own version of Amazon Prime, Sephora has announced the launch of a membership-based two-day shipping program called “Flash,” according to Fast Company.  For just $10 a year, customers in the Continental U.S. and Puerto Rico are eligible for unlimited two-day delivery, with no minimum purchase, or overnight delivery for $5.95, compared to its usual $16.95 overnight charge.

During a pilot program, Sephora discovered that Flash subscribers spent twice as much as their comparable non-Flash counterparts. VIB Rouge customers, who spent $1,000 or more each year, get their Flash memberships for free.

The retailer also announced the opening of an Innovation Lab in San Francisco to develop and test technologies, as well as a series of tech programs. It’s expanding its in-store beacons program to all locations, and has developed a makeup app that helps customers learn contouring for their own face shape.

Sephora shook up cosmetics retail when it arrived in the U.S. from France  in 1998, radically changing the cosmetics purchasing experience by sweeping away the controlled, compartmentalized department-store counter experience with a more democratic display of high-end cosmetics.

Sephora has also recently opened its new Innovation Lab, focused on “envisioning the future of retail for Sephora and making sure that we’re staying ahead of our clients and the different trends that are out there,” according to Bridge Dolan, VP, Innovation Lab.

In addition to launching Flash, Sephora has also rolled out three other digital initiatives, including Pocket Contour, a product that uses a mobile device to provide a contouring tutorial; the launch of beacons in all Sephora locations following a beta test in two San Francisco-area stores; and an anticipated in-store augmented reality front-window display featuring female founders of numerous cosmetic brands offered by Sephora. 

"We found that when women hear about a product they want, they just want to buy it, they don't want to amass a basket, or put it on a list to think about later," says Dolan about Flash. "So this is how we are fulfilling that need for instant gratification."

The push into membership-based delivery could solidify Sephora’s customer base, widening the competitive space between sort-of competitor Ulta as well as the likes of Amazon.