One of the coolest shopping “assists” I had at the recent SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference was in front of a smart mirror connected to a light sensor shelf of lipsticks.

One glamorous corner of the SAPPHIRE NOW show floor displayed how retailers could deliver a more seamless beautiful shopping experience.
One glamorous corner of the SAPPHIRE NOW show floor displayed how retailers could deliver a more seamless beautiful shopping experience.

When I picked up a tube, the mirror automatically reflected my face with that shade of lipstick on my lips. This was the literal tip of the seamless buying experience I sampled in the glamorous showcase called “Best-Run Beauty.” Maybe “Truly Tangerine” wasn’t my best color, but the multimedia display of products backed by real-time data showed how retailers could become intelligent enterprises in the experience economy.

The journey began with an understanding of breaking market trends, immediately connecting those insights with inventory management, marketing campaigns, and sales. The outcome was a combined online and in-store shopping experience tailored for ever more demanding consumers.

Real-Time Information Fuels Sales

Nothing sparks a makeup trend more furiously than a jolt of social media lightning. When megastar celebrities post updated palettes on their lips, cheeks, and eyes, the impact reverberates fast. Consumers fall all over themselves to get “the look,” and companies scramble to deliver those products.

“Retailers have to be aware of everything happening in the social landscape,” said Keara Sweeney, retail solution engineer at SAP. “We’re using SAP Digital Boardroom to collect and analyze the social media trends, and we connect it back to the business using predictive analytics and SAP Customer Activity Repository. Companies can forecast campaign success, including where specific products will sell.”

Taking me through a series of screens with easy-to-read charts and graphs, Sweeney shared how retailers can align information company-wide, using SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP Promotion Management for Retail. This would allow them to take full advantage of trending makeup looks. Embedded machine learning would provide fast answers to questions, helping decision-makers quickly make sense of mountains of data. In one example, retailers could predict major influences on revenue, such as expected regional demands for makeup based on social media trends. Statistics and predictions would be based on each company’s key performance indicators (KPIs), products, and actual sales data.

Connected Data Scales Bricks and Mortar

Contrary to some assumptions, online shopping hasn’t completely replaced in-person visits; customers simply want an easier experience getting the goods they desire. The Best-Run Beauty showcase demonstrated how customers in stores could use a mobile app to scan products for valuable information, including user reviews complete with pros and cons and social posts describing real-world product experiences. Walking into a store and getting this kind of information on your mobile phone bridged the gap between the online and in-store shopping experience. Digital natives especially expect mobile access to quickly get the information they need and move on at their own pace.

“People shop socially. They are very interested in seeing what others are saying about products. In our example, the technology captures all that information, tagging it by sentiment – for better or worse,” said Sweeney. “Millennials and other shoppers still want to visit stores. They also want to control their privacy and what data they share, turning access to it on and off as needed.”

Insights to Actions

Back to my no muss, no fuss lipstick shopping experience, I realized the incredible amounts of actionable information being shared behind the scenes. The sensors connected to the lipsticks on the shelf could continuously tracked how many times each tube was picked up and map it to the number of sales for that color.

“Maybe you find out that people are picking up the tangerine color, but it’s not leading to a higher percentage of sales,” said Sweeney. “It could be the color or the name. Retailers could conduct more analyses to see where customers are interacting with products, and which of those interactions lead to more sales.”

She added that retailers can similarly use radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to track consumer interactions with products.

Relevant Information is Behind Beautiful Shopping Experiences

Retailers understand that in the fast-paced fashion industry, it’s not enough to know that smoky eyes and berry lips are trending sky high. Real-time, connected data is the only way to meet rising consumer expectations. As for that tangerine lipstick, I happily found a much more becoming shade. It’s the beautiful shopping experience every consumer demands.

Follow me: @smgaler