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How Augmented Reality is changingbthebfave of retail

Futurist at Rackspace, the #1 managed cloud company

Life and Tech #41: Cosmetic Retailing of the Future

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This week I got a very rare look inside Sephora’s Innovation Lab in San Francisco, where they test out new store concepts.

While I was there, I met with Bridget Dolan, the head of innovation for Sephora, who showed me what’s currently possible inside retail stores.

That video is at:

She showed me how Sephora is using augmented reality on signage and other items in the stores. You aim your phone at the sign, and the sign has virtual items that pop off of it.

In another demo, I saw how you can virtually try on lipstick. You aim your phone at your face and then click on various products and shades.

Fantastic stuff, but our conversations went a lot further. Sephora has developed a color match system that keeps track of not only your purchases, but your color preferences, so that you can easily match other products in the future.

I also got to see the importance of Sephora’s community, hosted on Lithium, which they call “Beauty Talk.” http://community.sephora.com/sephora/ 

This community includes both employees in stores as well as everyday customers, who discuss Sephora products. On an associated site called “Beauty Board,” they show off their latest makeup and discuss how they did it. http://gallery.sephora.com/ 

Sephora uses those communities to discover new trends, like contouring, and then quickly develop new products based on those trends and get them into stores. Bridget showed me one such product aimed at the contouring trend they discovered several years ago, and said they’re selling tons of those kits.

They also use beacons to let customers automatically bring up their shopping lists when they enter the stores, among other features. But, they also said they were proceeding very carefully with such features because they don’t want to freak out customers or make them feel uneasy with tracking technologies.

Like other innovators who are using beacons, such as the Coachella music festival, this team focuses on delivering utility to customers and making sure they aren’t freaked out.

One last thing that got my attention — they aren’t pushing augmented reality as hard as other apps on the market are. 

Some apps, like this magic mirror, let you see entire makeup sets, while Sephora so far has focused only on lipstick: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/10153904336884655 

This is because they want to make sure the quality of the experience matches Sephora’s brand promise. Colors must match exactly to what the products actually deliver.

Sephora is hugely important to the future of retailing and you regularly see their work demoed on stage at Apple and other keynotes. They’re worth paying attention to, and I was so happy I got the chance to do a live video with this incredible team.


Scoble World Tour, research for new book “Beyond Mobile”: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/10153910905124655 

While on the road I’m seeing companies like RealSpace 3D, which does amazing audio systems for VR headsets: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/10153896359244655/ 

Here’s the Futurecast I did at CES with Andrew Keen: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153894755694655&set=a.10150326718589655.360975.501319654 


Microsoft shows off Hololens (its version of augmented reality glasses) at TED:

The Meta video is coming March 2nd. First images of Meta’s demo are here: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/10153908499494655 

If you want a taste of augmented reality, visit the Hunger Games demo at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, or watch this video: https://www.facebook.com/shel.holtz/videos/10156495931695368/ 


How will VR change the way you sell things? Check out this demo about how condo sales are changing: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/10153908693704655/ 

VR Studios builds motion capture rooms for enterprises. Here its founder shows off one such room and discusses how enterprises are using them to both design new things, but also sell new things, like condos that haven’t yet been built: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/10153908566834655/ 


Investor Mark Suster breaks down valuations: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/10153901930349655 


Nice list of tools to use in business: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/10153902913949655 


Apple’s CEO Tim Cook spoke up against a government attempt to get Apple to hack a terrorist’s iPhone and Rackspace’s CTO, John Engates, agrees here: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/10153909417639655 
I agree with both.


Can you keep up with me? Rackspace employee Thomas Weeks wrote up what I did in just one day in Virginia. Whew! https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/posts/10153898406624655 

Hope you have a great week, if you see me checking out lipstick don’t worry, OK? 🙂


Posted on February 27, 2016

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