L'Oréal partners with Facebook on virtual makeup trials, cements beauty as key AR use case

Makeup retailers like Sephora and Target are turning to AR and AI to improve the customer experience and drive sales.

Sephora's digital transformation success story: An inside look TechRepublic writer Alison DeNisco Rayome spoke with Sephora and industry experts about how the beauty retailer uses AR, AI, and other technologies in its digital transformation initiatives.

L'Oréal will partner with Facebook to allow customers to virtually try on makeup through the social media platform in an effort to drive more online sales, the company announced this week. The partnership is another example of how beauty and fashion are key uses cases for augmented reality (AR) in the enterprise.

L'Oréal recently acquired ModiFace, a company that uses AR and artificial intelligence (AI) to track facial features and overlay specific types and brands of makeup on them virtually. ModiFace also worked with beauty retailer Sephora on its Virtual Artist app, an AR tool that allows customers to try on thousands of shades of lipstick, eyeshadow, false lashes, and many other makeup products sold at the store.

Target, Estée Lauder, and others have rolled out similar virtual try-on apps and tools to increase sales, in a time when retail stores have experienced dramatic changes, as sales drop for many due to online competitors like Amazon, and increasing automation beginning to change the shape of the workforce. However, tech tools like AR may be a way for retailers to digitally transform their business, and boost sales online and in-store through omni-channel efforts.

SEE: Virtual and augmented reality policy (Tech Pro Research)

For L'Oréal, social media networks have become the biggest growth driver of web sales in terms of attracting shopping traffic, L'Oréal's chief digital officer Lubomira Rochet told Reuters. And virtual try-ons are a boon to sales as well.

"What we've seen on our sites is that when there is a virtual test facility, conversion rates increase significantly," Rochet told Reuters.

E-commerce revenues accounted for 9.5% of all L'Oréal sales in the first half of 2018, up from less than 5% three years ago, Reuters reported.

"Facebook and L'Oréal share the vision that Augmented Reality is becoming key for product and brand discovery and purchase. We are at that magical moment when technologies have matured enough and consumer appetite for using them is growing everywhere," Rochet said in a press release. "One fascinating aspect of this partnership is that it keeps us innovating the beauty user experience. After having adapted our creatives and contents to a mobile-first world it will be very interesting to see how AR is going to change the creative playbook of our industry."

Customers will be able to use the virtual try-on via Facebook at the end of August.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • L'Oréal will partner with Facebook to allow customers to virtually try on makeup through the social media platform to drive more online sales.
  • Tools like AR may be a way for traditional retailers to digitally transform their business and boost sales online and in-store through omni-channel efforts.
Image: L'Oreal

By Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.