5 Tech Trends That Have Transformed Beauty And Cosmetics Retail5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
Right from the fabulous 50s up to 2020, the only constant in the beauty and cosmetics retail industry has been evolution. There have been improvements in product offerings and advancements in customer service and experience. The market has come a very long way! One of the main factors contributing to this has been tech solutions; over the course of this year, technology has managed to catapult the beauty and cosmetics retail market into a whole new era.
Here are the top 5 tech trends that have shaped the industry in 2020:
1. Voice Assistants
Voice Assistants have truly changed the way we live! A simple command is all it takes for us to place a call, find out the weather, order dinner or even figure out a route to work.
The beauty industry has taken this one step further to employ voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, to walk people through hair care and beauty routines from the comfort of their own homes! For example
- The brand COTY works through Alexa and Google’s voice assistant to guide users through personalized skincare and makeup routines
- Clairol, a division of COTY has also conceptualized a voice assistant to talk consumers through the process of dying their hair at home
It is predicted that 5.3 billion users will be interacting with voice assistants by the year 2024.
So rest assured that beauty will be riding the voice assistant wave!
2. Virtual Try ons
Beauty presents a unique challenge to e-commerce because of how personal it is to every customer, whether it’s finding the perfect shade of foundation or the red lipstick that’ll best suit their undertones. While brick and mortar stores have sales assistants who can guide them, online stores are trickier for consumers. However, as the pandemic forced consumers to shift online, an increasing number of brands are adopting virtual try-on technology, which has also made the discovery process for products a lot easier
- Sephora’s Virtual artist allows users to try on products, play around with different looks and compare different brands at any given time, without having them enter the store
- Redken’s new virtual hair colour tool allows users to find the perfect hue for their locks and book a digital consultation with one of the Redken team!
- Brands like Bobbi Brown, Estee Lauder, Chanel, Bare Minerals and MAC have even employed their own virtual try-on sites during this time!
The beauty e-commerce industry has grown by 48% over the past 6 months, and this is a shift that is unlikely to reverse.
So the number of brands implementing tech on their sites will only increase.
3. AI-Powered Personalization
With the massive shift online during the pandemic, beauty and wellness brands have turned to AI-powered retail personalization to help consumers make better and more well informed decisions based purely on their behavior & preferences, rather than overwhelming them with endless options.
With personalized (personalization engine) options being offered on site, brands can also ensure customer loyalty and guarantee repeat sales.
- The brand Prose, introduced a system whereby customers take a 25-question online quiz in order to determine their best custom formulations and product regimens. Questions range from hair type and scalp conditions to environment and lifestyle habits and lead to 135 data points that the company can use to provide them with the best experience on site
- Olay, launched the Olay skin advisor; a web based data collective tool to help users understand the right products and tools for their skin. The brand even developed new products upon understanding the preferences and needs of their customers. For example, upon understanding that most of their core consumers prefer scent-free products, Olay launched a whole new range of fragrance free moisturisers , which sold 5X more than the scented range.
In today’s data driven world, consumers are more open to having a conversation with their chosen brands, if they feel that their preferences and needs will genuinely be listened to and adapted.
4. Smart Skincare
Skin care can be tricky. It differs from person to person and experimenting might not always result in favourable outcomes. However, beauty brands have leveraged technology to scan users’ skin to reveal pigmentation, hydration levels, skin sensitivities and more! This technology, used in stores like Dermalogica in the UK, is available on smartphones as well! Take for instance
- Olay’s skin analysis app, which can read a users age, skin conditions and preferences, and generate an entire skin care regiment, all from a single selfie
- Himirror; A device that reads the users skin tone, gives an in-depth skin analysis and can even track how successfully new products are working.
5. A revolution in beauty gadgets
The future is now with the introduction of a whole range of cosmetic gadgets that have personalized the beauty and wellness regiment. Forget compacts and blushes, 2020 has seen the rise of 3D printed sheet masks, personalized dispensers and skin scanners.
- The opte wand by P&G. A device that digitally scans the user’s skin, analyzes complexion, and camouflages age spots, sunspots, and hyperpigmentation on contact while fading their appearance over time.
- L’oreal’s Perso. A device that creates and dispenses personalized foundations and lipsticks, taking into account the user’s skin tone, sensitivities, local environmental and weather conditions and humidity to curate that one perfect shade for every unique individual
- Mink’s 3D printer. The world’s first 3D printer for makeup that has been designed to turn images captured on one’s camera roll, social media or a scanned picture, into wearable makeup with the help of an app and a makeup sheet!
Given that this accelerated digital transformation across retail is here to stay, beauty and cosmetics retail is definitely ahead of the curve in terms of adopting and harnessing new technologies. It will be fascinating to see how these trends scale across beauty retailers and their sustainability in delivering bespoke customer experiences.
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