How AI and AR can deliver a powerful online and offline beauty experience
As the UK beauty market continues to grow, more and more businesses are welcoming artificial intelligence and augmented reality-powered platforms to entice consumers and stand-out amongst the competition.
The introduction of this technology to the beauty industry has modernised the capabilities of beauty businesses and the experiences they can provide a consumer. From skincare analysis to makeup try-ons, AI and AR-powered platforms can offer a personalised and unique retail experience for shoppers, both in-store and online.
Revieve is a technology company delivering these hyper-personalised experiences. Through its modular beauty and wellness platform, including products like Skin Coach, AI Makeup Advisor or AI Haircare Advisor, the company offers a wide range of digital beauty solutions to brands and retailers around the globe.
Sampo Parkkinen, CEO of Revieve, said: “Customers nowadays have more product and service options, especially in beauty. As a result, beauty businesses are facing more competition to become the brand or retailer of choice.
“Beauty retail is the commerce category where businesses should do more than the bare minimum - they should celebrate the customer more and ensure their experience is frictionless and personalised at all times.”
So, what should beauty businesses be doing to drive success?
Relationship-driven commerce is key
Relationship-driven commerce is a business philosophy aimed at developing deeper and ongoing relationships with consumers. In building these stronger relationships, brands and retailers can boost customer loyalty and consequently drive revenue growth.
As more businesses embrace relationship-driven commerce, those focused on a transactional and revenue-driven approach risk overlooking shoppers and in turn, being overlooked themselves.
In recent years, companies including No7, Estee Lauder and Superdrug have introduced a variety of digital experiences to strengthen their customer relationships. This includes personalised AI and AR-powered activations across makeup, skincare, haircare and wellness, such as a skincare diagnostic selfie experience or a shade matching try-on.
These platforms allow beauty businesses to gather relevant customer data at scale – helping brands and retailers to better understand customer behaviour and quickly adapt their strategy accordingly.
In a recent report, Revieve measured the effectiveness of AI and AR-powered retail experiences in boosting customer engagement and sales.
On average, users of the AI and AR-powered experiences were two-three times more likely to become returning customers. They also encouraged increased time spent on a site, as well as a 74% uplift in average order value and a rise in average revenue per user spent.
What you do online has to compliment what you do offline (and vice versa)
Creating a seamless O+O strategy helps brands and retailers better serve customer needs anytime and anywhere. This is important as today’s consumers are looking for an elevated retail experience wherever they decide to shop.
Retail isn’t about in-store vs online. Beauty businesses need to consider both channels together - making them feel like an extension of one another whilst enticing customers with personalised experiences, flexible payment options, on demand delivery and more.
However, according to Revieve, in-store and online experiences “should not be a direct copy of each other but rather adapted to the specific behaviours of customers”. It’s all about creating a consistent customer experience to accommodate the different ways consumers like to shop.
Commenting on the importance of a seamless O+O strategy, Sampo Parkkinen said: “Consumers today are shopping across different brand touchpoints and are not linear in their decisions. In fact, they continuously bounce between different touchpoints to shop and gather information.
“Setting an O+O strategy helps beauty brands and retailers put the customer first. This is why the O+O strategy is the future of the retail business. By connecting the dots between online and offline environments, beauty businesses can personalise the whole customer journey at any point in time across all channels – delivering an elevated retail experience. This is what consumers are craving.”
What happens when you get it right?
In recent years, A.S. Watson, the owner of Superdrug, has been transforming its O+O strategy with a variety of digital experiences to better serve customer needs via all online and offline channels.
In 2021, the group unveiled its O+O retail strategy and created an “ecosystem powered by technology, big data and artificial intelligence” across in-store and online.
As part of this, A.S. Watson introduced a number of experiences including online skin analysis, online live beauty advice, virtual makeup try-ons, and a faster and more reliable delivery service.
In particular, the group’s Online Skincare Advisor helped boost customer engagement. For this, A.S. Watson partnered with Revieve to launch the AI and AR-powered service across its Superdrug, Marionnaud and ICI Paris XL businesses. The solution was customised and localised for each brand’s philosophy.
To use the platform, customers can take a selfie and answer a range of questions about their skin type and concerns. Users then receive AI-driven product recommendations and personalised skincare advice based on over 100 different metrics and 30,000 images of demographically representative people.
From customers using the Online Skincare Advisor in Q2 2022, A.S. Watson saw a 29% rise in average order value at Superdrug. The health and beauty retailer also reported a 70% uplift in conversions and higher customer engagement.
Additionally, Revieve recently revealed how its collaboration with French-family skincare brand Yon-ka boosted its business performance in the US. As with Superdrug, the brand saw positive results from adopting the AI-powered skincare advisor technology. In just one year, Yon-Ka almost doubled its conversion rate and saw a 30% increase in average order value amongst users engaging with the experience.
In today’s busy beauty retail landscape, it’s more important than ever for businesses to be on top of their game. As both the beauty industry and consumer expectations continue to evolve, it’s becoming a necessity for brands and retailers to create a relationship-driven, seamless online and offline experience to boost engagement and long-term loyalty.
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