Innovation

Target AR makeup shopping showcases future of digital transformation in retail

Target has invested in digital tools that better combine the online and in-store retail experience in hopes of boosting sales.

On Wednesday, Target rolled out augmented reality (AR) and digital chat services to help customers more easily shop for cosmetics online and in store, with the goal of increasing beauty sales in the company.

Target Beauty Studio, available on Target.com's desktop and mobile versions, leverages AR to allow customers to virtually try on hundreds of makeup items, including lipstick, blush, and false lashes. The site uses Perfect Corp.'s YouCam Makeup tool for real-time facial mapping, so customers can test out which shades and products look good without actually having to try them on. Target Beauty Studio is also now available in 10 brick-and-mortar stores, via a digital screen in the beauty department. The company plans to roll it out to more stores later this year, according to the announcement.

Target also launched a digital assistant on its cosmetics and skin care web pages to better connect customers to the products they are seeking. When a customer lands on those web pages, a chat icon will pop up, prompting customers to type in a question that a human "Beauty Concierge" representative will answer in real time. Customers can also text "BeautyChat" to "Target" (827492) to get a quick response from a Beauty Concierge.

Survey: What tech makes your shopping experience better? (Tech Pro Research)

Retail stores are experiencing tremendous change in recent years, with sales dropping 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.

Target's AR efforts mirror those of Sephora: The beauty giant has been at the forefront of digital transformation in cosmetics and retail in general, with a number of online and in-store tech products that make the shopping experience easier for customers. For example, Sephora Virtual Artist is an AR tool that allows customers to try on thousands of shades of lipstick, eyeshadow, false lashes, and many other makeup products sold in the stores. Since launching on the app, Sephora Virtual Artist has seen 200 million shades tried on, and over 8.5 million visits to the feature, according to the company.

This move is one of a number of investments that Target has made in recent years to combine digital tools with its brick-and-mortar stores, as noted by our sister site ZDNet. For example, last year Target acquired Shipt for $550 million to strengthen its digital fulfillment projects, and offer same-day delivery in stores.

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

In March, after publishing Target's Q4 2017 financial results, CEO Brian Cornell said "Our team is laser focused on creating the kinds of experiences that are worth the trip or an extra click... In beauty this means making sure our guests see themselves in the product and the marketing, asking for what we can do to encourage them to explore even more."

The big takeaways for tech leaders:
  • Target announced new AR and digital chat services to help customers shop for cosmetics online and in the store, and increase beauty sales.
  • It's likely that more retail stores will turn to new technologies to compete with online shopping and gain more customers.

Also see

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Image: Target

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

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

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