Fashion-industry trade journal, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), often touted as the “the bible of fashion”, dove into the future and returned to tell us what the beauty store of the future would look like. We have all experienced, in some form or another, the shift to digital and how that has impacted retail. The coronavirus pandemic forced consumers to do their shopping online, because of the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders that governments were forced to employ to curb infections. As infections have declined, and vaccines are rolled out, brick-and-mortar retail stores have begun to re-open. Again, the shift to digital is expected to play an important role. Whereas in the lockdown era, the shift to digital occured in the absence of physical shopping, in the post-lockdown era, the shift to digital will be used to drive more in-person sales. 

WWD gives the example of someone who wants to buy new eye shadow. As we must all continue to wear masks, this person would not be able to get a makeover in-person, and may not even want to touch any of the counters for fear of contracting the coronavirus. It also would not be possible to use in-store artificial intelligence (AI) technology to try on different looks, because, again, this would require un-masking. Today, with Perfect Corp’s Face Mask Detection technology, which uses AI and augmented reality (AR), customers can, without touching the screen, virtually try-on makeup even when they are wearing make-up. 

This is an example of how brick-and-mortar beauty retailers have embraced new technologies to enhance their in-store customer experience, making it more immersive, engaging and valuable, all the while maintaining the highest sanitary standards. 

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Before the pandemic, in-store customer experience was extremely important, but, with the rise of ecommerce, with all its immense advantages, has forced brick-and-mortar retail owners to ask questions of their model and look for ways to differentiate themselves from ecommerce sites. They have found that technology can be the friend of brick-and-mortar retail businesses, enhancing in-store customer experiences, eliminating pain points in the customer journey, and enriching and making more immersive the process of selecting products and services. If, for example, a customer is looking for a place to get the best laser hair removal services, technology can help there, making the last-mile experience much simpler, online and in-person. Brick-and-mortar stores are and will always be the lifeblood of the beauty industry. To survive in an increasingly digital and tech-driven world, beauty stores must utilise technology to enhance and make more immersive, the customer experience. It is vital to always be fresh and surprising and entertaining within the confines of the physical store. Secondly, technology must be used to create more personal relationships with customers.

Here the shift to digital proves immensely helpful: customers invariably create huge troves of data which, on aggregate, can be used to create ever more refined profiles to target categories of people with incredible precision. This is something that simply did not exist in the pre-digital world. The brick-and-mortar beauty store of today can use all this data to deepen and enrich their relationships with customers in unprecedented ways. Finally, success in the future is about combining the online and offline worlds in seamless customer journeys.

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The omnichannel experience will allow brick-and-mortar beauty stores to be there for their customers wherever they are needed, whether online or offline, whatever the device, whatever the time. Uniting the online and offline worlds is the final ingredient for success for the beauty store of the future.