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Innovation & new products

Sephora embraces voice control era

Sephora has joined several pioneers such as AccorHotels, voyages-sncf.com (the French rail operator), Plume Labs (air quality tracking) as one of the first applications available on Google Assistant after the launch of the “Actions on Google” platform in France. The app allows to access several services with the voice, without having to install any additional application on the smartphone.

Getting in touch with Sephora while talking to your smartphone or to a connected speaker without even installing the app? That is the service offered by several pioneers now available in Google Assistant, an intelligent personal assistant which is able to held a conversation using Google’s natural language program.

“OK Google, talk to Sephora.”

To use the service, you need to launch Google Assistant - for instance by saying “OK Google”, if the phone is listening - and say “Speak with Sephora” (or another service also available on Google Assistant).

Sephora has developed its chat bot in collaboration with VISEO, using artificial intelligence bricks allowing customers to interact with the company via Google Home as well as Android and iOS smartphones via the Google Assistant.

The use of voice assistants and more recently voice-activated speakers is proving to be much more than a trend but the preparation for a small digital revolution in which Sephora wants to be a forerunner. With these first features and this collaboration with Google, we intend to test the audience and the reactions of our customers with regard to voice assistance,” said Anne-Véronique Baylac, Chief Digital Officer at Sephora EMEA.

New features

A first wave of services has arrived in early November but, according to Sephora, this is just the beginning and new features will be available in 2018 through this new channel:

  • Beauty services booking such as a complete make-up at the Beauty Bar or at the Benefit’s eyebrow bar. Thanks to Google Assistant and Google Home, it is now possible to check all availabilities in Sephora stores. Appointments are finalized by email afterwards.
  • Beauty quizzes in order to allow the retailer to get information about the client’s level of information.
  • Exclusive beauty podcasts with influencers.

According to Sephora, with more than 49 million voice assistant users and 10 million voice-activated speakers sold in the United States in 2016 [1], voice assistants are emerging as a key channel. Sephora explains a retailer must adapt to its customers’ new uses in order to better respond to changing expectations and make their lives easier.

Vincent Gallon

Footnotes

[1] Sources: Google Think Tank, eMarketer

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