The 100th edition of Retail & Tech out now

This is the 100th edition of BW Confidential’s Retail & Tech. We launched Retail & Tech as a response to the major changes in retail and the acceleration of digital, which was brought into the spotlight by the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years on, the market continues to move fast. The need for a curated selection of retail and tech news and trends to help you stay on top of e-commerce, digital developments and new ways of selling, remains acute.

We hope you continue to find this newsletter inspiring, and as always, we value your feedback, so email us with any comments, ideas or views:


  • Sephora’s shop-in-shops. Sephora is to launch its shop-in-shop at all of US-based department-store Kohl’s 1,100 stores. Initially, the two retailers planned to launch the concept in at least 850 Kohl’s stores by 2023. The first 200 Sephora at Kohl’s opened in August 2021 and another 400 opened this summer. The expansion is due to the concept’s strong performance so far, the company says. The 200 shop-in-shops that opened in 2021 have maintained a high-single digit percent sales lift, while the additional 400 shop-in-shops that have opened this year are seeing a mid-single digit percent sales lift. Kohl’s put itself up for sale earlier this year, but as a bid fell through due to what was deemed a low price, it said it will now not sell its business.

  • Men’s grooming. Retailers are expanding their men’s grooming offers. UK-based department store Harrods introduced a new Men’s Grooming, Fragrance and Sunglasses section earlier this month on the second floor of its Knightsbridge flagship store in London. The area is described as a one-stop shopping experience that responds to men’s growing interest in self-care products and routines. The space features skincare and fragrance brands, such as Elemis, Escentric Molecules, Humanity Cosmetics, Lab Series, Le Labo and Murdock, in addition to dedicated Tom Ford Beauty and Creed fragrance corners. Meanwhile, US-based Kohl’s plans to introduce a space for men’s grooming under the grooming essentials banner in its Sephora shop-in-shops.

  • New luxury. UK-based luxury retailer Flannels (Frasers Group) is to open three new 80,000ft2 (7,432m2) flagship stores throughout the UK in 2023. Since August 2021, Flannels has opened three regional flagship shops in the UK. The new stores will mimic Flannels current luxury fashion and beauty offer. The retailer has put a focus on what it calls a “new luxury” approach with a focus on experiences. For example, at its Liverpool flagship, through a deal with aesthetician and clinic Dr. Esho, the retailer offers beauty treatments and medical-grade services, such as Botox and lip fillers. Flannels added beauty to its offer in July 2021.

  • Inflation proof. A string of retailers in the US, including Macy’s, Nordstrom and Kohl’s, have lowered their full-year guidance as inflation impacts demand. Macy’s claimed that spend has shifted from goods to services, while weakening apparel sales over the last quarter were a result of higher costs of essential goods, such as grocery. However, luxury and beauty have, so far, been immune to these pressures. Macy’s brands such as Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury outperformed in the second quarter, while US beauty retailer Ulta Beauty raised its guidance for the full year. Ulta Beauty added that it has yet to see inflation’s impact on its sales and that it has seen no signs of customers trading down. In fact, fragrance, bath, skincare, haircare and make-up all delivered double-digit comp growth against the second quarter last year.

  • But stressed out. While the Christmas season is still months away, 59% of US consumers are already stressed about buying gifts for the holiday due to inflation, according to a survey by printing services company 4over. Additionally, 27% are planning to start holiday shopping soon in case inflation gets worse. Some 73% think prices will increase by the holiday season and 56% are planning to do their holiday shopping during sales events such as Labor Day (September 5) and Black Friday (November 25). Meanwhile, 47% say that paying full price for something is a dealbreaker this year. Consumers noted that they will cut back spending in some categories. However, among categories, health & beauty is the segment consumers intend to cut back the least on.


  • Roblox for retail… US-based beauty retailer Ulta Beauty has launched what it calls the Ultaverse on online gaming platform Roblox. The space consists of areas dedicated to different beauty categories, such as make-up and haircare. Users are invited to capture 20 Ulta bags to unlock different hair styles and can then put on the hair styles at the Ultaverse salon. Once users capture the 20 bags, they can also unlock free user-generated content (UGC) items from an Ulta Beauty vending machine. UGC is a feature that allows selected players to publish their items and sell to other users.

  • …And more brand games. Cosmetics brand NARS also launched a metaverse experience on online gaming platform Roblox in July. The NARS Color Quest, allows users to do their avatars’ make-up, build a virtual make-up palette, take pictures of their avatars and share the images on social media. Users can also buy make-up looks for their avatars and branded apparel and accessories. NARS follows a string of brands that have introduced spaces on Roblox in recent months, including Gucci, Givenchy Beauty, and Escada. Yoga and wellness brand Alo Yoga introduced an Alo Sanctuary on the platform earlier this year; so far 40 million users have visited the space and 48,000 pieces of digital clothing have been redeemed and worn by avatars. The brand noted that visitors spend a lot of time changing their avatars’ looks. About one in five of the brand’s daily active users on Roblox change their avatar every day. Some 54 million people visit Roblox every day and spend some 2.5 hours on the platform daily.

  • POAP. Beauty brand Estée Lauder took part in virtual social world Decentraland’s Metaverse Art Week, which ran from August 24 to 28. The brand worked with Dr. Alex Box to design and introduce an exclusive Proof of Attendance Protocol (POAP). A POAP is a digital badge that verifies a user’s attendance at an event. Each badge is unique, meaning that users can only claim a POAP at the event itself. The Estée Lauder POAP can be claimed at one of three different stations in Decentraland’s Art Week, either at the Sculpture Garden, CashLabs Gallery or at the ArtNet location. Once a user claims the digital badge, they gain exclusive access to Estée Lauder’s future Web3 activations.

  • Beyond DTC. Digitally native brands are rethinking distribution strategies. Last month, beauty brand Glossier, which is known for its direct-to-consumer (DTC) model, said it would launch in retail, making Sephora its first brick-and-mortar partner. The brand said its aim was to build its consumer reach through new partnerships. Meanwhile, struggling fitness platform Peloton also said it would shift from its DTC model, and opened an online store on Amazon to make its products more accessible and available.

  • Farfetch x YNAP. Online luxury retailer Farfetch is to acquire a 47.5% stake in Richemont-owned Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP). Investment vehicle Alabbar will acquire a 3.2% stake, making YNAP a neutral platform with no controlling shareholder. As part of the deal, Richemont and YNAP will each adopt Farfetch’s full-service agency that provides luxury brands with end-to-end, multichannel e-commerce solutions. Richemont says using the solutions will help YNAP’s shift to what it calls a hybrid retail-marketplace model. Meanwhile, Richemont’s brands will also join Farfetch’s marketplace.

  • Shifting focus. Social-media platforms are re-evaluating their commerce strategies. Meta-owned Facebook announced last week that it would remove its live shopping feature in October.  It also emerged in July that TikTok shelved plans to expand its live e-commerce offer, TikTok Shop, in the US and Europe. The platform reportedly halted plans in the UK after the live shopping feature struggled to gain traction with users.

  • Going international. Chinese e-commerce platform Pinduoduo is planning to launch a cross-border e-commerce platform next month, and is eyeing the US as its first target, according to reports. The move is said to be in response to sluggish conditions in its home market as the government cracks down on tech companies and as COVID-19-related restrictions have impacted the economy in recent months. Pinduoduo was founded in 2015 and features a group buying model that encouraged customers to share their orders on messaging platforms to get lower prices.

  • $1 trillion. Online retail sales in the US are predicted to reach $1.07 trillion in 2022, according to business advisory firm FTI Consulting’s Retail & Consumer Products practice. The milestone, which FTI projected before the COVID-19 pandemic would be reached in 2025, is an increase of 11.7% compared to 2021. While the pandemic accelerated e-commerce adoption, the question now is how, and whether or not, these gains will be sustained as shoppers return to stores. Online sales over the past two years were driven by necessity, claims the firm, in addition to more discretionary income due to government stimulus. However, recent concerns, such as inflation, are expected to impact the channel and slow total retail spending over the second half of 2022.


Siren Eyes. On average there are 7.8k online searches for siren eyes in the US every month, up 649.4% since last year, according to Spate. There is no competition or market leaders associated with the trend. The siren eye is an eyeliner technique in which consumers create a sharp, winged liner look and a flick of eyeliner in the eye’s inner corner. Spate says brands should look to help consumers quickly and easily achieve the look, through tutorials or new products.

tarte cosmetics tartelette tubing mascara. The product is trending on social media as users say it gives eyelashes both length and volume. The mascara is trending due to its wand, which features a conical shape with short, rubber bristles.

Queen Cosmetics glitter gloss. Consumers are posting reviews of the make-up brand’s lip product, as chrome shades continue to trend. The glosses are highly pigmented and come in a variety of chrome shades, which have been trending for the eye category over the past few months. For example, beauty brand Danessa Myricks Beauty’s eyeshadow Infinite Chrome Flakes was popular on TikTok for several months.

SOCIAL MEDIA BUZZ: BeReal – for beauty?

New social-media application BeReal recently climbed to the top of Apple’s App Store charts to take the number-one spot, beating heavyweights such as TikTok and Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram.

The app’s popularity is said to be a response to consumers’ desire for more authentic content. BeReal’s concept is based on the idea of unfiltered, real posts on social media. Users receive one notification daily at a random time to share a photo (without filters or editing) of whatever they are doing at that moment. Users have a two-minute window to post a.

When the picture is taken, the app uses both the phone’s front and back cameras at the same time to create a two-image post. This is supposed to show the full moment of “real life.” While users can retake it as many times as they like, friends can see how many times the image was taken.

BeReal users worldwide receive the same notification to post at the same time every day. This means they are not able to see any of their friends’ posts until they post themselves. Users can decide if they want their BeReal to be seen by all BeReal users worldwide or only by their friends.

All photos disappear within 24 hours of being posted, similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories. However, the app has a Memories feature, in which users can privately see their own posts. In terms of engagement, users can leave comments on a BeReal to chat with others and can also “react” to with a RealMoji.

The app is still new and not a lot of brands have ventured into the space yet. US-based e.l.f. Cosmetics claims it was the first skincare brand to join BeReal, earlier this month, due to its popularity with Gen Z consumers. As part of its launch on the app, e.l.f. offered its first 150 BeReal followers a code to receive a free travel kit with products from its Holy Hydration skincare collection. The beauty brand worked with creative agency Movers + Shakers to introduce the initiative.