- Covid-19 has accelerated the growth in online shopping as customers have shifted to doing their shopping from the comfort and safety of their homes.
- Through the introduction of these new interactive digital platforms, Woolworths now offers customers the engagement and personalised service they want from Woolies, anytime, anywhere.
- The new digital beauty experiences, Virtual Try On and Virtual Consultations, are designed to help consumers reinvent their beauty shopping experience at home and gain more confidence before making a purchase.
About two weeks before we went into lockdown (hardly knowing what it would entail or how long it would be), we warned about the dangers of resuming with beauty treatments and in-store makeup testing, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases was starting to become a threat in South Africa.
With a possible third wave looming, the prospect of sitting pretty at beauty counters is waning once again.
During the pandemic, shopping for new makeup products has become a no-contact experience. While you can still sit in front of those brightly-lit mirrors, beauty consultants can no longer touch you. Instead, they let you do the honours; handing you cotton bud after hand sanitiser after foundation after hand sanitiser after disposable applicator after... hand... sanitiser.
For skincare, a few brands have offered virtual consultations. Yes, I've had a virtual facial, which entailed having the products delivered to me before my appointment during which a beauty therapist talked me through the process.
So as life continued to become virtual in 2020 and online sales for pretty much everything boomed, Allure reported on Ulta Beauty's new app feature that uses facial recognition to recommend new skincare products. The Ulta Beauty app features a skin analysis tool as part of the retailer's GlamLab experience.
The new feature aims to use that technology alongside a survey to identify your primary skin issues and recommend products to buy directly through the app. This tool offers a solution to classic retail while shoppers stay at home.
Woolworths now becomes the first South African retailer to offer such an experience as the one Ulta Beauty offers, with the launch of two new, innovative digital beauty experiences.
Woolworths’ Beauty online offering has experienced triple digit growth since Covid and with the launch of virtual beauty experiences, the major retailer hopes to further bolster its position as a leading beauty retailer in South Africa.
“Over the past two years, Woolworths has been expanding its Beauty business both in store and online, with the launch of key brands like Chanel, Clinique, Clarins, Bobbie Brown, Tom Ford, Smashbox and our own highly regarded private label, WBeauty," explains Liz Hillock, Woolworths Head of Online and Mobile.
"The unprecedented growth of online shopping over the past 12 months, alongside the health and safety protocols of testing samples in store, has ushered in a new opportunity for us to transform the beauty shopping experience while continuing to build the differentiated capabilities across our digital platforms,” she adds.
A first of its kind from a South African based beauty retailer, the introduction of Woolworths’ virtual beauty offerings will see the retailer deliver an unmatched online customer experience, that will not only connect customers virtually to the store, but also offer an exciting, unique and differentiated shopping experience.
Image supplied on behalf of Woolworths SA
The new digital beauty experiences - Virtual Try On and Virtual Consultations - are designed to help consumers reinvent their beauty shopping experience at home and gain more confidence before making a purchase. Virtual Try On gives customers the opportunity to try on hundreds of shades of lipsticks, eye shadows, and mascaras.
The feature creates realistic applications of these products through augmented reality that can be tested on any skin tone and allows customers to assess textures, colours and looks. Based on this initial rollout, Woolworths will then look to extend the Virtual Try On offering into its stores, providing interactive screens for customers to trial beauty products.
The retailer has also partnered with Estée Lauder and Clarins to reinvent Beauty Consultations, giving shoppers access to one-on-one, digital-based beauty consultations with beauty specialists from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Customers will be able to receive personalised skincare advice, product recommendations and application techniques, offering that human touch that everybody has missed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both of these experiences are complimentary and aim to replicate the high-touch customer experience Woolworths is known for in store.
To get started, shoppers can visit the Woolworths website via mobile or desktop, select the ‘Beauty’ drop down tab and click on the new ‘Virtual Services’ section. From there, customers can choose a product to sample, select ‘Try it on’, take or upload a photograph of themselves and then channel their inner beauty vlogger and test out a wide range of signature makeup products in just a few clicks.
Image supplied on behalf of Woolworths SA
Similar to what customers are used to in store, the Virtual Beauty Consultations are available for those who are looking for an interactive in-depth consultation with a Clarins or Estée Lauder advisor.
Additionally, the retailer now offers over 80 international and local beauty brands and, with these new experiences, aims to be able to broaden its reach and interact virtually with customers in a more meaningful way.
Additional information and images supplied by Eclipse Communications
Sign up to W24's newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our stories and giveaways.