Sephora Acquires Scentsa Platform

Sephora Acquires Scentsa Platform

Sephora continues to push it's instore digital innovation with the announcement that they have acquired the technology platform Scentsa.

Scentsa created the interactive technology that plays a key role in the beauty retailer's digital efforts in it's over 300 freestanding stores nationwide. Sephora bought the platform from Crescent House Publishing LLC for an undisclosed amount.

"For us, beauty is a category that lives in both a physical and digital world and it works best when it all works together in one ecosystem," said Julie Bornstein, chief marketing and digital officer for Sephora. "Our decision to acquire this technology group is [born of] a realization that we've tried these things, they've worked really well and we can see that they're helping the consumer experience and that they're driving sales. We continue to be very focused on using technology in the most high-impact way while creating a seamless experience between stores and online. We plan to continue our focus there moving forward and we wanted that to be something that we owned and that we could keep proprietary."

The first initiative with Scentsa was Sephora's Fragrance Finder developed in 2008. The Fragrance Finder is an in-store touch screen that provides customers with detailed information on fragrances, gives product reviews, shows images and runs videos. Sephora followed it's success with Color IQ, which uses a handheld tool to scan the customer's skin and matches them with the appropriate foundations sold at Sephora.

"The idea is that you go on a helpful journey to find what works best for you, then get a printout of products you're interested in," said Bornstein. "Consumers know this data's out there and to have easy access to it is a real service."

Bornstein continued on, "What we want to do is build on [these learnings going forward]. We don't want to overwhelm the consumer, but we really want to make it focused and effective and really solving a problem. As with all technology, it always needs to evolve. It's a living, breathing thing. Once you let it sit by the wayside, it dies. For us, we see all of these things as continuing to evolve and making sure they stay relevant and whatever new ideas and experiences we can create, we will build on to them."

Sephora has always been forward thinking when it comes to technology. They launched their e-commerce in 1999 and followed it up with a strong social media presence "Digital has been in the DNA of Sephora from the start of its presence in the U.S.," said Bornstein, "We're always thinking about how we can make the shopping experience easier, better, more fun, more educational, and many ways technology can help in that experience, whether it's at home or in store."

They continue to focus a lot of energy on their social media and consumer-loyalty programs as well. "Social media, for us, is a way for women who love the beauty category and love to shop at Sephora to engage with us however they want," said Bornstein. "It might be asking for beauty tips or talking about new products they love. Also, word of mouth is huge there; that's what social media helps amplify. It just is a very logical channel for both us and our consumers."