The world of online shopping is more integral to a business’ success today than ever before. But that doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar stores will become obsolete anytime soon. For customers, in-person shopping of makeup, skincare and haircare products is a sensory experience that can’t be replicated online. Though good customer service, dazzling displays and testers have always been integral to a brick-and-mortar store’s success, beauty retailers are now offering unique incentives to drive more people into the stores.
Here, we explore the advantages of companies having brick-and-mortar locations by examining two recognized retailers, Planet Beauty and NYX Professional Makeup, which have used creative, digital-savvy ideas to keep customers coming back for more. For independent beauty store owners who may not have the resources to incorporate some of the flashier in-store features these stores have, use their innovation to inspire new ideas that you can implement to enhance your customers’ in-store shopping experience.
Now boasting 38 locations in California, with approximately 250 employees, it’s safe to say that Planet Beauty is one of the top retailers—with a strong in-store and online presence—in the beauty industry.
Founded in 1992, Planet Beauty’s first brick-and-mortar store opened in Newport Beach, California, and to this day remains one of its busiest locations, says marketing and PR manager Jennifer Piraino. It’s also important to note that the company’s first store opened “long before the e-commerce boom,” she says, meaning that the chain was able to adapt to the changing market in the face of increased competition from online retailers.
Because social media’s influence played a smaller role in the retail industry at the time Planet Beauty was founded 25 years ago, the store’s key to success relied on its top-notch customer service, Piraino says. “And this mentality still drives the company’s culture.”
For brick-and-mortar stores, location and appearance are everything. It’s well known that grabbing a customer’s attention starts with a building’s façade and window displays. At the various Planet Beauty locations, careful attention is paid to such displays, which are meant to draw in customers walking by. The products are kept well stocked, and new and exciting items are placed within view, which are changed out depending on the season. As soon as you walk into the store, candle heaters and chandeliers create a luxurious look and an inviting ambience.
Planet Beauty ensures that its stores are brightly lit and precisely merchandized to create the best experience possible for the consumers. “Shelves are kept stocked, clean and fronted. The makeup counters are inviting and the music is kept at a medium volume so we can engage our customers on the sales floor while maintaining an upbeat environment,” Piraino says.
"Planet Beauty’s success relied on customer service and this mentality still drives the company’s culture."
With many of Planet Beauty locations strategically placed in quaint neighborhood communities, Piraino says it’s not uncommon for employees to know their repeat customers on a first-name basis. Remembering a customer’s preferences and tastes makes it easier to recommend new products for them to try and creates a friendly environment that facilitates trust and loyalty. “We take pride in our one-on-one approach to customer service,” she says.
Planet Beauty’s staff members are experts who are knowledgeable about beauty and can give customers great product recommendations tailored to their specific needs. Piraino says that the company hires beauty advisors that “undergo rigorous corporate training from the start of their employment.” She adds, “Planet Beauty has one of the most extensive on-boarding programs in the industry,” which includes training for new-hires, special master classes and ongoing, monthly vendor training classes to stay informed on exciting new beauty trends.
Planet Beauty’s brick-and-mortar stores also offer other incentives to draw new and online customers inside. For example, many of their locations offer luxurious in-store salon and spa treatments, giving clients a true “one-stop beauty shop” experience that fulfills multiple needs in one trip. Professional stylists and estheticians are also on-hand for customers who need an expert opinion or answers to hair- and skincare-related questions.
In an effort to keep customers constantly interested in shopping both online and in store, Planet Beauty offers separate promotions as incentive for its buyers. This allows customers to take advantage of the best deals for their needs, Piraino says.
"With many of our locations in neighborhood communities, beauty advisors often know their customers on a first-name basis."
The stores also hold special events, including product or service demonstrations to grow the consumers’ brand awareness for the various items that it carries. “Samples and gifts with purchase give our customers an extra incentive to attend our events and learn more about the products,” she says.
Today, to spread the word about Planet Beauty’s special discounts and events, no other tool is as valuable as social media. But, the company’s various social media platforms also serve as an avenue for employees to stay abreast of beauty trends and the release of new products. This knowledge is then used to create content for Planet Beauty’s blog, The Pulse, Piraino says.
As Planet Beauty continues to grow, fans of the chain can expect to see more brick-and-mortar locations open this year. At the end of 2016, the company also effectively integrated a rewards program so patrons can earn cash back and save on their favorite items. Despite more people buying their beauty supplies online in an age where social media vloggers are now the biggest beauty influencers, the company’s continual success relies on its in-store customer satisfaction, trained staff members and word of mouth.
NYX PROFESSIONAL MAKEUP
We’ve all seen NYX Professional Makeup products in our favorite retailers across the country, including Target, CVS Pharmacy, Ulta Beauty and Nordstrom Rack, to name a few. Founded in 1999 by entrepreneur Toni Ko and headquartered in Los Angeles, NYX’s debut product was its Jumbo Eye Pencil, still one of its bestselling items. Hundreds of SKUs have followed in the past 18 years, spanning makeup, skin and nail care, and the brand is now one of the biggest names in the industry, praised by beauty vloggers worldwide.
NYX’s general manager of Marketing and Global Business Development, Nathalie Kristo, attributes the store’s success as a cult-favorite brand among beauty junkies to “the professional quality of the products, affordable price point and strong social media following.” Created as a way to make high-quality makeup super affordable and easily accessible to the masses, these are still NYX’s biggest draws for consumers.
With more NYX partners than ever before, the company now ships its products worldwide to more than 225 countries and is available in thousands of retailers. With no signs of slowing down, “There are now many more NYX Professional Makeup stores worldwide which have launched in the last year,” Kristo says.
First carried in Ulta in 2007, NYX has solidified many retail partners since its acquisition by L’Oreal in 2014. As the company saw much retail success, the next natural step for the brand was to open up its very own brick-and-mortar locations. The first NYX store opened in 2015 in the Westfield Santa Anita Mall, featuring all the products available on the website. Since then, a total of 23 stores have opened their doors for business in the U.S., with the company’s flagship store (its 20th location) in New York City’s bustling Union Square.
As an incentive to draw fans of the brand into its brick-and-mortar stores, NYX offers in-store promotions that differ from its online ones, “if they are tied to a specific in-store event,” Kristo says. These special events include fan meet-and-greets and grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremonies attended by fan-favorite YouTubers like Jordan Hanz and Patrick Starrr. Celebrating its relationship with social-media influencers, these beloved makeup artists also act as the store’s campaign models. And although consumers have access to the same products in-store as they do online, both shopping experiences are distinctive from one another. Featuring striking, sleek, glossy black exteriors, NYX locations are brightly lit and easily recognizable from afar. Inside, customers experience a mix of hands-on and digital features that celebrate its strong online community. For instance, the exclusive Beauty Bar allows people to watch custom, interactive video tutorials in front of a mirror; as the videos play, shoppers learn valuable tips about products they’re interested in as they test them out.
"Our stores encourage fans to have fun swatching, testing and learning about our products and the latest makeup trends."
In-store shoppers can also view a digital community wall, where live user-generated content is posted, focused on showcasing the hottest new makeup trends, Kristo says. The digital imagery of real-world makeup lovers acts to inspire self-taught beauty lovers to create and share their own looks online, making seemingly difficult techniques more accessible to users. “The NYX Professional Makeup in-store shopping experience is very unique—all of our stores are digitally enhanced, essentially bringing the online beauty community to life,” Kristo says.
Certain stores, including the Union Square location, also feature exclusive perks, such as offering shoppers one-on-one lessons with professional makeup artists on subjects like contouring and brows.
But that’s not all: NYX’s brick-and-mortar locations have other perks: When customers use special in-store scanners on a product they are interested in, photos on a screen pop up of how that certain item or shade looks on real people. “The NYX Professional Makeup stores celebrate our makeup lovers community—from the digitally enhanced walls featuring user-generated content, to the Beauty Bars featuring exclusive tutorials by beloved vloggers,” Kristo says. “Our stores encourage fans to have fun swatching, testing and learning about our products and the latest makeup trends.”
These unique in-store services work to overall enhance the shopper’s buying experience. Another added bonus: Devoted makeup artists are available to answer questions or provide professional opinions that “help educate and empower customers” to try new techniques and products—turning them into repeat, loyal buyers for life.
[Photo by Mahzad Nasimi]