Digital & Beauty Retail 2020: Product Discovery

One of the key drivers why people shop at retailers (vs. directly with brands) is definitely the range of products (.. with other aspects like delivery and price). The more younger the generation, the less brand loyalty different studies show them to have. In general, we could say that more than 50% of beauty customers change brands within a year at least in one category.

But, at the same time, majority of consumers state that they are confused by the overwhelming options of products. Sephora’s biggest store carries around 13,000 products and their online shop has more than 300 brands - other beauty retailers being not far behind. As we are moving to shop mostly through mobile, it brings this problem even bigger with limited space available to present products for the user.

According to a survey of 4,000 consumers in the U.S. and U.K., 48 percent either agree or strongly agree that searching and buying products directly from mobile website is frustrating.
Asked what would encourage consumers to make a purchase on their phone, the leading response was, “If there was a faster or easier browsing experience,” agreed to by 47 percent. That was followed by, “If finding exactly what I wanted was easier,” 44 percent; and, “If discovering new products that I liked was easier,” 35 percent.

Today, experiences from popups to events are leading the beauty retail news but at the same time the reputation of many beauty retailers is heavily founded on the fact that they carry the newest and coolest brands for consumers to discover.

On the other hand, beauty brands are launching on continuous basis various beauty experiences from interactive magic mirrors, customised cosmetics, skin diagnostics and various other BeautyTech -solutions. These solutions are often found in the stores of the retailers but the challenge for the retailer is to find the balance between providing these experiences together with the brands but at the same time solving the customer’s main dilemma; product discovery across all of the brands they carry.

From discovery to choosing products and getting them

Lets say that as a consumer you’re jumping on the latest trends of vegan & cruelty free skincare or makeup. Going to a retailer like Sephora brings you closer to finding your new favourite product but suddenly a wall of 20 brands that all or vegan & cruelty free appear. As a consumer you’re happy with the wide selection but 50% of people still leave without actually making a purchase decision. Why? The brand-messaging (even if the brand would have all human & tech advisors) is not as powerful as if the retailer would give a recommendation through e.g a digital technology.

As consumers, we are not always buying the brand messaging and we are looking for ways to find the truth about products - especially in cosmetics. YouTube, reviews and other channels are obviously typical methods to find more information about products but for many, retailer channels are something that they rely on or at least would prefer to get the information from. But are retailers doing enough?

If you look at the main methods discussed - those are the most obvious ones: Optimize your home page, present trending products, provide recommendations from other customers etc. The unfortunate thing is that in cosmetics this is less than 50% of the customer journey. Discovering trending products isn't really helping to choose what matches their unique skin.

For retail, three steps are the most essential:

Discover - Experiences that drive new product discovery

Choose - Find the products that match me as an individual

Get - Delivery, payments and other core functionality to get the products quickly to customer

What can retailers do to help consumers to Discover & Choose in cosmetics?

There are typically couple different kinds of cosmetics shoppers that you need to serve:

  1. Those who already know (at some level) what they are looking for
  2. People who don't have a clue what they should get
  3. People just doing re-purchases

So what can help?

skin diagnostics
skin diagnostics

AI is too hyped as a term but if going deeper into AI and talking more practically about Computer Vision, the benefits of different computer vision -driven solutions are helpful for all types of consumers. Imagine if you could just scan your product and get the same or similar recommendation from the retailer? Imagine if you could just scan an image and get the makeup products worn by the person in the image? Or imagine if you could analyze your selfie to get individually matching recommendations from the best matching brands? The use cases of computer vision are many and today there are vendors who can help you to get started quickly and without huge budgets.

Obviously just computer vision is not going to solve all problems related to cosmetics discovery and choosing the right products but coupled with the right data about the user (full beauty advisor -experiences) lead you to the right path in helping the consumer to find out not just what they are looking for but also something that matches their unique skin. Whether this collection of data happens with questions or looking into users browsing behaviour or shopping history - any data available to complement computer vision -driven technologies makes the user experience special and highly individualized.

We at Revieve specialize in computer vision -driven digital beauty advisors and with a help of data & recommendation engine, we focus on delivering the right product recommendations to the user. White label -solutions for all retail channels.

So, how are you helping your consumers in product discovery online or in your retail stores?


Who’s the writer and Revieve?Miikka is the VP of Strategic Partnerships at Revieve, working with the leading beauty brands and retailers, helping them to build new digital beauty experiences across different channels. At Revieve we build white label Digital Beauty Advisors (with market leading mobile skin diagnostics, AI-driven product recommendations and 3D live video makeup virtual try-on) for skincare and makeup.

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