Beauty Tech Live: Shop-tainment: How to make shopping online fun and boost sales through AR, virtual try-on and livestreaming

BW Confidential Editor in Chief Oonagh Phillips, e.l.f. Beauty Chief Digital Officer Ekta Chopra, Perfect Corp Europe AVP Business Development Sylvain Delteil and Charlotte Tilbury Director of Digital Harminder Matharu

Executives from AI and AR beauty company Perfect Corp, US-based e.l.f. Beauty and UK-based brand Charlotte Tilbury discussed the latest trends and future predictions in a panel at Beauty Tech Live focused on shop-tainment through AR, virtual try-on and livestreaming.

Perfect Corp Europe AVP Business Development Sylvain Delteil said combining AR, video and social media is key in a brand’s shop-tainment strategy. AR features results in higher conversion rates, customers staying on sites longer and also provides consumers with entertainment and value, he added. Delteil noted that, while five years ago consumers were not even aware that they could test a product on virtually, now it is a must have for brands.

AR: A must-have

“People expect you to have a try-on capability,” added Charlotte Tilbury Director of Digital Harminder Matharu.

While AR provides consumers with entertainment, e.l.f. Beauty Chief Digital Officer Ekta Chopra noted that the AR feature also needs to solve a shopper’s need.

“AR is great but paired with AI and data it can do wonders,” she commented. By using AI to gather information about consumers and their needs, brands can use AR features to help fulfill gaps or need in the online beauty shopping experience.

AR features have infused all digital touchpoints, including the web experience, app experience and Google ads, among others. The challenge here is maintaining a consistent approach in each touchpoint, Chopra noted.

Charlotte Tilbury’s virtual try-on  magic mirror feature has been in the brand’s arsenal for quite some time, noted Matharu. However, the brand looks to enhance the tool to develop emotional connections with consumers by using its make-up artist team. He added that the virtual try-ons try to mimic as much as possible the in-store make-up application experience.

The magic mirror results in higher products added to carts; additionally, consumers return to the feature, using it to try-on a myriad of products virtually, Mathaur said.

Part of the brand’s virtual try-on strategy is “meeting demand in the very beginning,” he said. In the US, consumers who search for a Charlotte Tilbury product on Google will now be able to try it on directly in the Google search results page.

Skincare and fragrance

While make-up can be easily tried on in the virtual sense, skincare and fragrance are more challenging.

Skincare requires a more personalized approach and using AI and AR together will result in successful online try-on experiences, said Chopra. However, brands first need to collect data on their consumers to offer a personalized approach. As skincare is more personal, brands need to ask questions and understand their consumer before launching an online skincare try-on element, she noted.

“For fragrance [it is about] AI,” said Delteil. By combining data gathered with AI and the brand’s own knowledge of their consumer, brands can implement a strong online fragrance shop-tainment experience.

“We are on it, but again it is not as straightforward as make-up,” Delteil commented.

Livestreaming and the seamless experience

In 2020, Charlotte Tilbury launched two digital offers: A one-on-one virtual consultation and masterclasses.

“The conversion rate is the highest I’ve ever seen in my career,” said Matharu of the online consultation service. Additionally, he said the brand saw high conversion rates on the back of masterclasses.

Key to the video-based experiences is a seamless shopping journey. During virtual consultations, the beauty advisor or customer can add a product to a cart without leaving the session. Shoppers can then go to checkout after the session, without needing to interrupt the consultation.

Last November, the brand launched a virtual store in a bid to recreate an in-person shopping experience. The digital shop resulted in higher average order values, while time on the site also increased.

In the future, the brand will look at way to engage more with customers in the virtual shop. Additionally, consumers will want to shop with others and an interesting element could be to add a group shopping feature in the virtual store, said Matharu.

In terms of future trends, Delteil says the key will be personalization.

“Trying is not deciding,” Delteil noted, and brands need to find a way to help shoppers make decisions in the digital shopping journey. Personalization powered by AI could help fill this gap, he noted.

Customers will expect a one-click type of service wherever they shop, whether it be in a messenger app, social media or livestreaming, among others.

Chopra added that maintaining the experience consistently, across platforms, is key and “therein lies the challenge [as] not every channel is ready [and] not every channel is integrated.”