July 21, 2011, 2:35 PM

Mirror, mirror on the iPad

Sephora iPad app enables far more than just shopping, including a make-up “mirror.”

Lead Photo

The merchant's iPad app features a virtual mirror that enables women to apply make-up while watching videos of experts doing the same.

Many women look for make-up tips and secrets on how to apply it. Sephora is giving them just that, but in a way that brings the beauty expert and the woman together, side by side.

In its new app for Apple Inc.’s iPad tablet computer, Sephora USA Inc. offers a “mirror” feature. The consumer activates the feature, which starts the front-facing camera. The consumer can then see herself on the iPad. Next to her image are videos on applying make-up. So now she can watch a video with expert application techniques while simultaneously putting on her make-up.

This feature is a strong play when it comes to “the cool factor” that is so important in mobile and tablet apps today. Merchants need to give consumers a reason to keep coming back to and using their apps, and cool features are a key way to ensure ongoing engagement.

The new Sephora iPad app, built by m-commerce technology provider Branding Brand, enables browsing, searching and buying, featuring the merchant’s entire catalog. But it’s the content and functions that make the app stand out. The vividly designed app includes the retailer’s forum, a how-to section and a Beauty Report area on trends. It places added emphasis on customer reviews, enabled by its reviews vendor Bazaarvoice. And socially it features integration with YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and its blog.

“We’re extremely proud of Sephora's App for iPad and consider it an immersive, educational and entertaining beauty retail experience,” says Bridget Dolan, vice president of interactive media. “The limitless capabilities of iPad inspired us to rethink how we deliver content digitally to our clients, leading us to develop unique functionalities that will drive the entire category.”

The iPad app of Sephora, No. 116 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, uses up-and-coming programming language HTML5, which web programmers say enhances the richness of mobile apps and sites by making use of the innate features of mobile devices.

“This social shopping app streamlines content and commerce in one living, interactive place,” says Nitin Mittal, managing partner at Branding Brand. “Leveraging HTML5, users can seamlessly engage with the app to add a new dimension to the catalog experience.”

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