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Brick-and-Mortar Is Out, Brick-and-Mobile Is In

Alice H. Chang, CEO, Perfect Corp.
Not a month goes by without headlines announcing that retailers are closing physical stores. At the same time, e-commerce continues to outgrow overall retail sales. It seems like the death of physical retail stores is looming. In reality, physical retailers are far from obsolete. More than 90 percent of all retail purchases in the U.S. are still made in brick-and-mortar stores, and 61 percent of consumers surveyed in recent research still prefer purchasing in-store to touch and feel the product.

Today’s consumer is an omni-channel shopper, interacting with both digital and physical channels when making a purchase. To keep up, brick-and mortar retailers must embrace their evolving role in the consumer purchasing journey and address customers’ changing needs and pain points. With top retailers now capturing up to half their sales on mobile, one answer lies in innovative mobile solutions.

Simply adding mobile tools on top of the legacy experience will not work. The challenge is to properly integrate technology into the discovery, engagement and purchasing journey to alleviate the challenges and limitations of in-store shopping. A recent Deloitte report highlighted that successful technologies “help customers do what they came to the store to do — find and experience products” without being distracting. With the omnipresence of smartphones today, mobile solutions can deliver long-term value to retailers by connecting the dots between the physical and digital shopping experiences.

Some of our recent partnerships with fashion and beauty retailers have demonstrated how to harness the power of mobile by integrating it into product trial experience. Leading eyewear retailer Solstice Sunglasses created a unique, interactive campaign with the YouCam Makeup app that allowed users to virtually try on sunglasses before purchasing. Potential customers interacted with Solstice and their products through their smartphone, even before visiting a store.

By engaging early and with a much larger audience, Solstice drove significant traffic to their physical stores. Their mobile campaign, “Get Framed,” led to a 65 percent increase in physical store sales.
Thanks to the mobile app’s true-to-life augmented reality technology and engaging experience, Solstice Sunglasses made it easier for customers to try their products, engage and purchase in a unified omni-channel journey.

YouCam Makeup was also used for product trials at YSL beauty counters in Japan. Consumers used tablet kiosks to try on makeup colors and styles quickly and without the mess. YSL discovered that customers spent 30 percent more time in stores after implementing the virtual sampling option. Consumers could also take home their personal consultation experience on their mobile phone, creating a consistent interaction with the brand online and offline.

Today’s customers are armed with a wealth of knowledge, available at their fingertips, as soon as they step into a store and even before leaving home. A growing number of consumers consistently access multiple channels as part of their purchasing journey. Mobile solutions can help bridge the gap between digital and physical commerce. To thrive in this fast changing environment, retailers must embrace brick-and-mobile.

Image provided by Alice H. Chang

Alice H. Chang is CEO of Perfect Corp., developer of the award-winning YouCam apps, where she leads her team to build the world’s top mobile beauty platform. Her vision is to empower every woman’s beauty journey through product discovery, trial, social sharing and purchasing.
Hear Chang speak about “The Dawn of Brick-and-Mobile” at the BeautyTech Summit at 1 PM on Friday, Jan. 6  and at 1:15 PM she’ll join leading beauty experts for a panel discussion about “Virtually Flawless! Makeovers from VR to AR”, both on the Living in Digital Times stage, Sands, Level 2, Hall C, Booth 44030. Visit Perfect Corp. and experience their YouCam virtual makeover apps in the Beauty Tech Marketplace, booth BT302, also in the Sands.