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“We need to be where our customers are”


Soumia Hadjali, Sephora’s chief digital officer for EMEA

THE PANDEMIC has accelerated a trend that was already moving towards omnichannel retail, but the enforced closure of stores and a wider reluctance among some shoppers to visit crowded places has forced retailers to embrace digital shopping.
The conference session People & Digital: A New Chapter, heard a case study from Sephora, the global beauty & cosmetics giant, which has put omnichannel at the heart of its proposition. Soumia Hadjali, chief digital officer for EMEA, said: “We have seen a huge shift over the past three years. The beauty consumers of today are digitally savvy and are now buying through both channels.” She revealed that 81% of Sephora’s shoppers used digital before heading to the store, adding: “They expect a seamless experience.”
“We need to be where our consumers are, so we’re expanding our touchpoints,” Hadjali said. And she pointed out that this process is happening fastest in the UK, where 32% of all retail sales have now migrated online. “Becoming the best omnichannel player is really important for us – it’s a key point of difference.”
But the growth of online sales has not lessened the role of Sephora’s beauty advisors, who have always been a distinctive part of the format. In fact, digital empowers them to do more through an in-house app called Sephora Plus. “Sephora Plus allows our beauty advisors to access the full range of products so they can recommend the right product to the right customer at the right time,” Hadjali said. “Customers appreciate a long-term relationship with a brand and digital is helping us deliver that.”
 
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