August 5, 2010, 6:01 PM

Sephora takes its beauty products mobile

The beauty retailer launches an m-commerce site; an iPhone app is in the works.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Lead Photo

Sephora is going mobile in a big way. This week it launched an m-commerce site and the multichannel beauty products retailer says an iPhone app is up next.

SephoraMobile is accessible by typing www.sephora.com into any smartphone. Sephora, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, No. 112 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, says it launched the site because it realized its clients were increasingly accessing its e-commerce site from smartphones.

Sephora used m-commerce technology vendor Branding Brand to build the SephoraMobile site, a spokeswoman says. The site enables customers to sign in on the m-commerce site to their e-commerce account using their e-mail address and password. The site provides access to default payment, shipping and billing information, enabling consumers to check out quickly. Mobile shoppers also have access to Sephora’s more than 1 million ratings and reviews, the retailer says.

Other features include access to e-commerce, m-commerce and store purchase history, the ability to create a shopping list, and a store locator that leverages a smartphone’s GPS technology to show consumers nearby Sephora shops. The site also integrates with Facebook, enabling users to become a fan of the retailer and to post a question on Sephora’s Facebook page for Sephora experts and fans to answer. Users also can learn about in-store events, create or access a gift registry, shop by brand and offer feedback through the mobile site.

“Leveraging technology never before used in the beauty sector, the new SephoraMobile gives our clients one central point of connection with Sephora, offering not only extensive information about all of our products but also providing personalized recommendations and access to their own beauty purchasing history to make shopping at Sephora more exciting and convenient than ever before,” says Julie Bornstein, senior vice president of Sephora Direct. 

The mobile site is the first step in Sephora’s m-commerce strategy. Next in line is a mobile shopping app for Apple Inc.’s iPhone, iTouch and iPad devices. The Beauty-to-Go app is expected to launch in October, Sephora says. It will include the ability to scan a product using several types of technology, including 2-D barcode scanning, and enable users to watch videos.

These initiatives are part of the retailer’s broader online strategy. Last month, LVMH purchased a 70% stake in Sack’s, a large Brazilian online retailer of fragrances, cosmetics and toiletries. The web site will be rebranded as a Sephora e-commerce site over time, LVMH says. Within 18 months, Sephora will be selling online in most European countries, LVMH says.

Sephora operates 270 stores in the U.S. and Canada, and 190 locations inside J.C. Penney stores. It also owns more than 800 stores in 14 European countries and operates 30 locations in China.

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