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Mobile is Changing the Game for Sephora

SAN FRANCISCO- While you may be familiar with Sephora as the cosmetic store at the local mall, the beauty chain is very comfortable in the virtual marketplace as well, concentrating on social and mobile platforms.

I had the chance to catch up with Danny Sullivan, vice president of mobile for Sephora, while attending Day 2 of Apps World North America. I asked Sullivan to talk about how Sephora is approaching mobile and utilizing responsive design. Sullivan took part in an Apps World panel that examined how mobile devices and tablets are changing the consumer experience and how new technologies will continue to shape retail.

Acknowledging that social media and mobile is a major part of its business, Sullivan said that Sephora wants to be where the consumers are spending most of their time.

“The platforms that they're most active on, are the ones we’ve gravitated towards most,” Sullivan told me. “Obviously Facebook and Pinterest have been big for us. We’ve seen some good activity as well on our Tumblr feed, but we also continue to use Twitter to get the message out and tell everyone what’s happening. If we feel that there’s a critical mass of our clients gathering somewhere, we’re usually happy to be there and try to figure out a way to have resources available to service that demand.”

An interesting talking point during the Apps World conference, of course, has been about wearables. I asked Sullivan how Sephora is thinking about this new trend in terms of its mobile and retail strategies.

“Wearables are a great category coming up, but I think it’s a little less focused on retail as the primary use case,” Sullivan said. “Wearables on your ear, wrist, inside your body and over your eyes will definitely be an important growth space overall, but I definitely think retailers are going to have to figure out how, based on their category, they are going to participate and benefit from an area that we are all still trying to understand.”

Sullivan said Sephora stresses brand consistency in the way it approaches the engaged, consumer experience. From a fine-tuned responsive strategy, to in-store applications that enhance the shopping experience to the ways workers interact with customers, these facets of the great digital experience need to be consistent, he explained.

“The customer believes that it is one brand, so the messaging and the experience you create for them needs to be seamless,” Sullivan said. “Finding the right use cases for a particular platform, making sure you utilize the screen space well and making sure you provide the most engaging, personalized consumer experience is something that we, at Sephora, view as what’s top of mind. We’re one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration, so being able to effectively execute on the plans we have for mobile and digital is how we define success.”

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