Sephora will include options for customers to instantly chat live with beauty experts on a computer or mobile device and get products delivered in the same day, the retailer told USA TODAY exclusively.
These changes come as the beauty industry adapts to surging e-commerce demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a 2020 McKinsey report on the beauty industry.
When customers log onto Sephora's website or app, an option called "Live Beauty Help" will be available. By clicking on it, customers will be asked whether they need help with makeup, skincare, hair, fragrance or customer service.
Customers then will be matched with a trained beauty advisor, someone who can answer questions such as: “What foundation matches my skin tone?” or “Will this conditioner weigh my curls down?"
The beauty advisor will then will answer questions and help navigate the assortment of products on Sephora's site.
If customers spend time looking at a certain product, Sephora's live beauty help chat bubble might pop up and offer assistance.
The service is available from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, seven days a week. Clients were previously able to see the feature on Sephora.com, and they can now access it on Sephora's mobile app as well.
The live beauty help also provided flexibility for agents to work from home or work at non-traditional hours, according to Sephora's senior vice president of e-commerce Carolyn Bojanowski.
As the pandemic shut down or limited store access nationwide, users flocked to e-commerce sites for beauty products and DIY home salon treatments, says the McKinsey report.
Sephora’s U.S. online sales went up by 30% from 2019 to 2020, although the increase in online sales likely did not offset in-store losses for many beauty brands, says the McKinsey report. According to Sephora, it experienced 75% growth in U.S. online sales through the duration of store closures, which started in March 2020.
During the pandemic, Sephora also released services like buy online/pick up in store and curbside pickup to minimize social contact.
Sephora most recently launched a same-day delivery option nationwide on its e-commerce site, allowing customers to get their beauty products on demand. The service costs $6.95 and is available seven days a week for orders made before 4 p.m. local time.
Bojanowski noted that the goal of same-day delivery was to allow customers to get their beauty products delivered to them with the same ease and speed that they get their groceries or other goods.
"The feedback we're getting is this is addictive, this is so easy. I can't stop," Bojanowski says.
The beauty industry is likely to tap into new forms of digital innovation in the next few years, according to the McKinsey report. For example, artificial intelligence can let businesses customize product offerings for particular consumers and aid the product discovery process.
Michelle Shen is a Money & Tech Digital Reporter for USA TODAY. You can reach her @michelle_shen10 on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sephora launches live beauty help and same day delivery