Digital makeover | The Financial Express

Last month, Tata Group said it would open 20 “beauty tech” stores in India to tap what it calls the “beauty enthusiast” between the ages of 18 and 45 who like to buy foreign brands like Estee Lauder’s, MAC and Bobbi Brown. According to media reports, the group is negotiating with more than two dozen companies to supply exclusive products to new stores. Stores will deploy virtual makeup kiosks and digital skin tests to attract young and affluent shoppers. The plans to open the store follow the launch of Tata’s beauty shopping app called Tata CLiQ Palette. The move will pit the group against the likes of LVMH’s Sephora, which has 26 stores, and Nykaa, which has 124 stores, for a share of India’s fast-growing beauty and personal care market, which is currently valued at $26.8 billion and is it should reach $37.2 billion by 2025.

The onslaught of beauty products in the market is increasingly flooding the new-age consumer, says Samir Kumaar Modi, founder and CEO of Colorbar Cosmetics. The Tata group’s move will encourage brands to use technology as a means of driving in-store sales, rather than using technological advances only to drive online traffic. He adds that by improving in-store experiences through technology integration, brands can create a smoother shopping journey that empowers consumers to make informed purchases.

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Darpan Sanghvi, founder and CEO of Good Glamm Group, says customers tend to shop online because they are attracted by discounts. In contrast, “beauty tech stores” would be powerful tools to enhance the shopping experience. Customers are moving away from transactional purchases and looking for immersive experiences that accelerate their decision making and enhance their shopping experience.

An uplifting shopping experience

The move to integrate technologies such as augmented or virtual reality and personalized recommendations in brick-and-mortar stores will be a game-changer for beauty brands around the world, experts say. These views are backed up by data. The 2022 Ayden-KPMG Retail Survey reports that 55% of shoppers today prefer retailers that offer technology-enhanced in-store experiences (virtual showrooms, smart mirrors, self-service kiosks) and 70% of shoppers will switch brands after a negative shopping experience in shop.

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The Tata Group is not alone in deploying technology to strengthen its position in the beauty space. As a digital-first brand, Colorbar Cosmetics plans to include facial technology, immersive virtual reality trials and a virtual lipstick trial service in its stores (currently available on its website) next year. Skin analysis tools help shoppers identify the right product. The brand is also considering an initial investment of Rs 30 lakh and an additional setup cost of Rs 15 lakh to turn its offline stores into technology-led beauty experiences. “In the coming quarters, we plan to expand the web experience and integrate advanced virtual reality customization into our offline stores,” adds Modi. The firm plans to allocate 7-8% of its revenue to fixing this segment.

Digital native Purplle.com doesn’t want to be left behind. “With our technology and well-trained beauty advisors, we strive to build the in-store experience around personalization and innovation,” says Rahul Dash, Co-Founder and COO of Purplle.com. The brand is looking to build a large omnichannel opportunity over the next few years and has started with several experimental stores in Delhi, Bangalore and Jaipur. “We will have an omnichannel tech in-store approach that will introduce endless aisles, mobile checkouts and features,” adds Dash.

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As part of its plans, it will invest in beauty profiles of consumers using augmented reality tools and combine this with products created to solve a specific problem. Consumers will be offered new experiences in the store, Dash adds.

Most of these tech deals target affluent consumers who are also very discerning. They are aware of global trends, so getting the product mix right would be of utmost importance, says Pankaj Renjhen, COO and joint MD, Anarock Retail.

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