Hello, it’s 2020 and I am an avid beauty store customer.
Abruptly interrupted and challenged by the global pandemic, I have been staying home and socially distancing myself so that I protect myself and do my part in slowing the spread of COVID. Adjusting to the remote working and stay-at-home lifestyle has changed the way I live, work and shop. It has changed my needs, wants, behavior patterns and the culture of shopping. My social media feed is flooded by quick, easy and cheap solutions of futuristic wearables, masks and shields, and anything that would make it possible to safely re-enter the world.
I work remotely, most of my groceries and essentials are delivered to my home and my virtual luxury retail therapy is limited to ordering self-care products I am familiar with. I would love to venture out for an indulging hour or two at my favorite store and return rejuvenated. But, I no longer feel comfortable window shopping and browsing products off the shelf, knowing the health risk that might come with the experience.
Let me re-imagine my ideal boutique beauty store in the current situation.
I decide to visit the beauty store at its physical location but, before going, I download the store’s app to help me as I navigate the balance between shopping and personal safety. With the beauty store’s hyperlocal radius-based app, I can check-in for information on store hours, deals and specials, and the number of people in the store. Before my visit, I can add myself to the visitor queue and receive information on wait-time for personalized and socially distanced service. This option allows me to stay safe while avoiding waiting in line at the store entry.
I have the option to order my favorite products and schedule contactless curbside pickup through the store app, but I think I’d rather browse the store today and explore the newest technology they advertised.
At my pre-scheduled visiting hour, I enter the store through the automatic opening doors to minimize surface interactions. I wear a mask, compliant with the store’s policies, and I distance myself from employees as well as other customers. A discreet temperature scanner within the door frame scans my temperature without the uneasiness of someone physically pointing a scanner at my forehead.
Upon entering the vestibule, I am welcomed with the visual and sensory stimulation of luxury hand sanitizers and lotions for a handwashing experience. Once I wash and dry my hands, I have two options. I can skip the experience store, choose the free samples they advertised on the app along with my intended purchase, and pick them up from the shopping assistant’s window, or I can enter the experience store to explore and indulge.
I decide to indulge.
As I walk inside, a smart mirror scans my skin. Based on the color and texture analysis, the mirror displays product recommendations and provides me with social media influencer tutorial videos that outline a new skincare routine and information on how to use the recommended products. It’s helpful that the social media influencer has a similar skin texture. It locates the recommended products within the store to explore further.
Walking to aesthetically lit showcased merchandise, I can experience a virtual makeover with items of my choice using an augmented reality mirror. This technology can mimic different times of day and lighting conditions to curate a personalized aesthetic. The smart mirror and the augmented reality mirror provide origins, complete ingredient list, sourcing and sustainability information of the products so that I am not fooled by the greenwashing marketing gimmicks.
Although there is sample merchandise on the shelves, displayed under the disinfecting downlights, that provides me with an understanding of the real product, all sale inventory is neatly tucked in back-of-house to ensure safety. I can quickly scan the sample merchandise using the store app on my phone to check availability and options.
I have finalized my purchase.
Continuing touchless interactions, I can scan the items through my store app, or through the conveniently located contactless self-pay stations. Once the order is processed, a shopping assistant will prepare my package under a disinfecting light. The cute cleaning and disinfecting robot in the back of house area adds another layer of safety protocol to my items being delivered to the pick-up window.
I understand that speaking to Siri and Alexa is a normalized interactive experience, but for unique and personalized solutions, human interaction is still priceless. I have a question on how to save the products I sampled today for a future purchase, and need to talk to a shopping assistant. Cute wayfinding graphics help me be mindful of the social distance between us and allow us to communicate without the plexiglass barriers. She helps me and tells me to be sure to visit in April when they are running a social media special for a product introduction. If I attend their social media live session, and like their post, I can buy the products at the store for a discount!
Beauty to me is a private, intimate and curated experience.
I was impressed by the sensory experience of hand sanitizing and lotions, AR/VR mirror service and personalized video tutorials on makeup and skincare. Although I can explore new products on social media and order online, I love visiting the store for self-care and sensory satisfaction.
The store app will send me reminders on refills and recommendations that can be fulfilled via online purchase, curbside pickup or another afternoon of experience like this. I would love to come back… maybe there will be a robot hand-delivering my order curbside next time!
Meghana Joshi, Sr. Project Manager, Retail Studio
Courtney Kasell, Design Principal