Sephora expands online retail capabilities in Canada

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Sephora expands online retail capabilities in Canada

Related tags North america

Sephora is continuing its march into the North American market, and particularly the digital retail space, with the opening of its first distribution centre in Canada for online retail, together with enhanced digital capabilities for its web platforms.

The company says that the redesigned e-commerce portals and the opening of the distribution center should provide a number of key benefits to its customers, including an enhanced digital retail experience and faster shipping times.

The improvements also include the elimination of duty fees and a mobile check out on the mobile web and Sephora Go app, which targets the still fast growing market for shopping on mobile devices.

Giving customers a better digital experience

“Our goal in opening our Canadian distribution center this year was wholly focused on giving our Canadian client an added level of benefit while shopping with us; we wanted to eliminate duties, get products to her faster, and ensure that we are offering her the most resourceful and informative way to shop,”​  said Philippe Pinatel, SVP and GM of Sephora Canada.

“By enhancing our mobile web and our checkout perks, we've ensured she's able to maximize her beauty dollars." was launched in Canada in 2012, offering an online multi-channel web experience for  digital premium beauty shoppers.

The LVMH-owned beauty retailer has done much to engage its online shoppers in North America, which has met with considerable success and made it one of the top players in this highly competitive market.

Building community

Initiatives employed by the North America digital retailing arm have centered on building community and engaging customers through concepts such as Beauty Talk, The Sephora Beauty Board, and ratings and reviews for individual products.

The recent enhancements to the digital platform in Canada also include the addition of full functionality for the mobile web and Sephora to Go App that will add the new shipping features and check out from their smart phones.

Sephora says that the web and app enhancements have been bought about by the recent opening of its first Canadian distribution center in Ontario: a 26,000 square meter facility that employs 82 people and designed to enhance the client-service experience.

The ‘Sephora effect’

In a related move earlier this year, Sephora launched its Innovation Lab in the US a concept that aims to cultivate the next generation of digital leaders, teams who will be coming up with the ‘next big ideas’ for beauty retail.

The space in San Francisco will feature a lab team that will source, develop, evaluate, test and eventually launch new offerings and technologies for shopping in the store and on-the-go.

The international beauty retailer has teamed with Google, Apple and others in the past, and has plans to make additional strategic alliances in the future, through this Lab's 'Think Tank' program.

Four new digital experiences

Sephora's Lab will feature the following new experiences for shoppers:

  • Beacons​ –  Personalized alerts to clients who opt-in. Shoppers can receive things like birthday alerts, loyalty program updates and be notified when new trainings are happening in-store.
  • Pocket Contour​ – A cross-platform personal virtual make-up artist application, that Sephora says takes the mystery out of contouring, a growing consumer trend in beauty. By analyzing a photo on a mobile, the app can help to identify face-shape, and give personalized step-by-step guidance on how to apply make-up.
  • Augmented Reality​ - A reality experience for clients via the Sephora-To-Go mobile app for iPhone. Launching in April, clients can engage with custom content by hovering over nine brand founder faces, like Josie Maran, Laura Mercier, Kat Von D and others. Scanning each image with augmented reality will show content      options, like brand founder interviews, product videos, animated GIFs, YouTube playlists and product pages on
  • SEPHORA Flash -​ Frequent shoppers who want products even faster can sign-up for this app, which allows customers free two-day shipping on all products. Flash is free for Rouge Beauty Insider members, and $10/year for all non-Rouge members

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