April 10, 2013, 12:22 PM

Apple Passbook users are among Sephora’s best customers

They purchase twice as much and twice as frequently as typical customers.

Bill Siwicki

Managing Editor, Mobile Commerce

Lead Photo

The chain retailer's pass in Apple Passbook, showing rewards point balance and a birthday greeting alerting the customer to a free gift.

More than 600,000 Sephora USA Inc. customers have registered their Beauty Insider loyalty cards in the Passbook mobile wallet on their Apple Inc. iPhones, the cosmetics chain retailer has revealed. This enables the customers to check their points balance with a screen swipe through the wallet and present the digital version of the card at checkout in-store, replacing the plastic card.

Sephora has discovered something important about Passbook users since it rolled out Passbook integration last September: Passbook users are among Sephora’s best customers. 80% of customers who put their Beauty Insider card in Passbook are what Sephora considers active customers, those who have made at least one purchase in the last year. Passbook users spend two times more annually and purchase twice as frequently as the average Sephora customer, the merchant says.

“Passbook has been a pretty interesting success for us,” says Johnna Marcus, director of mobile and digital store marketing at Sephora, No. 106 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400. “We were there on day one and are currently one of only around 20 brands in Passbook. What we learned is that our Beauty Insiders really find a benefit in Passbook.”

Marcus says Sephora customers with mobile devices skew heavily toward Apple iOS devices, and they know their way around technology.

“Our customers are women who have shown historically that they adopt technology where it is useful, and Passbook takes one more thing out of your wallet, notifies you when you are near a store, and stores gift cards and loyalty cards,” Marcus says. “Our best customers really appreciate utility.”

Passbook enables Sephora to keep its Beauty Insider program top of mind with its iPhone-toting customers, Marcus says, and Sephora is going to start building on the success it has achieved to date. The retailer is adding two proactive features to its Passbook cards.

“There are tiers to Beauty Insider, and now when you become one of our Very Important Beauty Insiders, when you cross that threshold we’ll send you a push notification that will send you to Passbook and will change the appearance of your Beauty Insider pass. We’re saying you made it,” Marcus says. “The other thing is when you are a Beauty Insider you get a birthday gift every year. We’ll be wishing Beauty Insiders a happy birthday via push notification in advance of their birthdays and encourage them to come in-store or shop online to get their birthday gift.”

This year’s birthday gift is a highlighter and mascara set.

Sephora this week has branched out with Passbook to include promotions. It sent out a marketing e-mail to Beauty Insiders promoting Chic Week, April 12-21. Beauty Insider members get 15% off every purchase in-store or online during Chic Week.

“In this case we’re using an e-mail to tell them about the promotion this weekend,” Marcus says. “She can print that e-mail off and come in-store, she can use the promo code and shop online, or she can save the offer to her Passbook. It’s about how she wants to engage with us. We give her the choices so we can fit into her lifestyle.”

The digital Beauty Insider card inside Passbook has been such a success that Sephora has launched digital loyalty cards for anyone with a mobile device that can access the web. Beauty Insider members now can go to Sephora.com on their mobile devices, sign in, and the mobile commerce site will display a digital card with a bar code. Customers using the iPhone app can do the same.

Sephora works with m-commerce technology provider Branding Brand on its Passbook offerings.

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