Sephora, a beauty products retailer has begun opening Flash boutiques in France that aim to make cosmetics and perfume shopping easier for shoppers. In their flash boutiques, they are employing Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID technology to give customers a more interactive and individualized shopping experience.
Sephora’s Flash Stores have placed NFC tags on the bottom of some of their products, primarily their perfumes, that interact with touchscreen tablets. When the tags are placed on a NFC reader, they prompt the tablets to provide the shopper with more information about the product. This allows buyers to sample goods on their own and learn about each product by using Sephora’s new individualized and interactive technology.
Customers can also use a card with an embedded NFC RFID tag to create a shopping cart. This gives you the ability to use your NFC RFID card to scan products that may not be available at the store, but you can purchase them when you get to the check out counter, and they will be shipped to your house.
The RFID technology links directly to Sephora’s stock keeping unit, showing whether they have certain items in stores, or available in their warehouse. This helps with customer service, making it easier to locate products and help customers receive them as quickly as possible.
The technology at Sephora’s flash boutique has been well received by shoppers, however it is not perfect. Sephora offers 14,000 different products from 150 different brands that you can buy digitally, however, unlike the perfumes, they are not able to provide a sample of each product. With the perfume, you cannot always buy it at the store but you can sample them. Cosmetics are something that people want to sample and see in person, so it not logical to use NFC scanner to purchase cosmetics.
The article also did not touch upon whether there is a NFC tracker in the product that is purchased to be sent to a customer’s home. Is Sephora using the technology to its full ability? Or are they just tagging the products in inventory and in stores but not for shipment tracking purposes.
Finally, how much does it cost for Sephora to use NFC RFID trackers and readers? Are the NFC cards reusable for a new customer, or are they wasted after a single use? The article did mention that their feedback from customers has been positive, but they did not release anything about how their new technology has affected sales. It is unclear if the amount of money that Sephora spent to implement this technology has increased their sales.