Now more than ever before, brands must deliver best-in-class shopping experiences across the omnichannel customer journey, from in-store, to online, and through social shopping platforms. These experiences must also be personalised, seamless and catered to individual shopper needs. As consumer shopping preferences evolve and stores begin to reopen, brands will need to adapt the traditional in-store experience to meet the needs of this new, digitally savvy consumer. The answer to this lies in digital first strategies that engage and excite consumers. Here are five digital trends that will be integral for creating a successful beauty store and shopping experience in the future.

1.           AI and AR powered virtual try-on technology

Pre-pandemic, customers that were interested in buying a beauty product would have visited a store, taken a product tester and tried it on their skin to find their ideal shade. With growing concerns over hygiene, and the increasing demand for personalised product recommendations, this is no longer a viable option in 2021. Forward thinking brands have therefore adopted beauty tech, such as AR and AI powered virtual try-on tools to help customers test products in a safe way, with true to life results. 

At Perfect Corp, we use innovative AI and AR technology to allow consumers to receive instant product recommendations that are ersonalised to their individual needs. Through AI and AR technology, customers can instantly have their facial features analyzed, and receive customised product recommendations within seconds. From skin tone to face shape, there are so many unique characteristics that define beauty consumers. For skincare brands, AI powered skin tech can help diagnose customer skin concerns and in turn recommend the most effective product regimen. 

Beauty is not one dimensional, and technology is essential to provide customers with the perfect shade and product match. AR and AI powered virtual try-on technology is the future of an enhanced beauty experience and has the potential to increase purchasing confidence by allowing customers to know with complete confidence that a product is right for their needs. This technology can also easily be implemented across the omnichannel shopper journey. Virtual try-on can be implemented in-store to encourage product discovery and across digital channels to inspire consumers as they browse. It can also be utilised as part of digital beauty consultations in-app and online to replicate the personalised in-store experience. 

2.      Social commerce

The beauty industry relieson social media platforms to help drive awareness for new products. These platforms also allow brands to engage with consumers and learn more about their needs. Last year, Facebook was responsible for 40% of social media visits to e-commerce websites, while YouTube was responsible for 35%. In order to provide the best experiences to consumers, brands need to provide a frictionless omni-channel shopping experience across all touchpoints from in-store, to online, and across social commerce channels. 

One of the most impactful ways for brands to engage consumers is with a strong social commerce strategy. Brands can provide personalised experiences to consumers through their social commerce strategy and one of the most effective ways to do this is with AR shoppable posts. With AR powered shoppable posts, customers can virtually try-on products as they interact with brand content on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. This experience is highly interactive and inspires consumers to continue exploring the brand online as well as in-store.

3.           QR code integrations

Data from Insider Intelligence reveals that mobile commerce is set to hit $488 billion, or 44% of total e-commerce, by 2024. With more reliance on mobile phones since the pandemic, the use of QR codes has also skyrocketed. QR codes have emerged as a useful way to access information and shop for products in a society that is quickly becoming touchless. As a result, consumers have become comfortable with QR codes and expect these experiences when engaging with their favorite brands.

Beauty brands can integrate mobile/QR code touchpoints in-store to drive consumer engagement. QR codes will be an integral part of shoppable beauty experiences and can be included on shelves in-store as a way for users to scan and learn more about a product, opt into a newsletter, leave a review or unlock product deals. Brands can also use QR codes to drive traffic to virtual try-on experiences that allow customers to try on the products they are browsing in-store. 

4.           Experiential retail

Online shopping is easier than ever today and many customers like to shop across multiple platforms, from a brand's website, to pop-up stores and social commerce channels. This means that the beauty store of the future needs to include experiences that engage customers and increase brand favourability. It is therefore vital that brands seek to create shoppertainment moments to excite and inspire customers in-store. There are various ways to engage with customers through experiential retail, from photo opportunities that inspire social sharing and brand love, to exclusive events that educate and inspire.

Estee Lauder recently implemented virtual try-on technology across store locations to engage customers while they shop and help each consumer find their perfect shade. This is yet another way that AR and AI technology is driving retail forward and creating valuable “shoppertainment” moments that engage consumers while reinforcing brand loyalty. 

5.           Sustainability

Consumers today want to engage with brands that adhere to sustainable business practices and align with their values.  This will continue to be important to consumers as we look to the future of beauty retail. One of the biggest sustainability challenges for the beauty industry today is plastic waste and the use of AR and AI-powered virtual try-on technology is an effective way to address this challenge. Virtual try-on reimagines product testing in a digital setting, thereby eliminating product waste and ensuring an eco-friendly in-store space. 

Looking to the future

Consumers may have grown more accustomed to shopping for beauty online, but in-store shopping will continue to be a very important touchpoint in the omnichannel customer shopping journey. 

As the retail landscape evolves, in-store beauty shopping experiences need to transform to accommodate shifts in consumer expectations and shopping behaviours. 

Advanced technology such as AI and AR  virtual try-on experiences will be a key element of this in-store transformation, helping to create a seamless omnichannel strategy that provides customers with entertaining and personalised experiences. 

In order to stay ahead of the curve, brands must leverage new technology and stay informed on the digital trends that excite and engage consumers. These elements will ensure a successful beauty store experience in the future. 

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