Sephora Is Experimenting With A Boutique Format To Prepare For The Retail Apocalypse

Sephora Is Experimenting With A Boutique Format To Prepare For The Retail Apocalypse Fast Company (07/20/17) Segran, Elizabeth

Sephora has more than 400 retail locations up and running nationwide, the bulk of which are in shopping centers. They are typically sprawling storefronts, lined with rows and rows of shelves and filled with beauty products from different brands for customers to test out. This is a format that has worked very well for the brand, which has been thriving even in the midst of a major downturn in brick-and-mortar retail. This past week, though, Sephora announced it is tinkering with a new kind of store: an intimate boutique embedded in a neighborhood setting. The first of these stores, which will be dubbed the Sephora Studio, is launching on Newbury Street in downtown Boston. While most Sephora stores indeed aim to make a big statement with their large storefronts, the intention of this small store is to blend into its locale. "We picked Newbury Street because it is a classic neighborhood shopping street," explains Sephora Americas CEO Calvin McDonald. "There are streets in cities all over the country that are just like this, where people like to take a stroll on the weekend to pop into little boutiques."

McDonald adds that that Sephora's bigger format stores have certainly been successful, but the company has noticed that the public's shopping habits are changing. "[Many] want to go to a store, but they don't have time to go to a big shopping center," he states. "They want to pop by somewhere closer to home, but many of these shopping streets offer much smaller storefronts than malls." Instead of shrinking a regular Sephora store into a smaller space, McDonald says the brand was very selective about what they would include on Newbury. There are eight makeup stations where customers can book personal consultations, and the product assortment is much smaller -- focused on makeup -- although there is a small selection of skin care and perfumes. The Newbury Street store is the first of many, McDonald assures. The brand is preparing to launch additional small-format stores in similar shopping streets in Brooklyn; Hoboken, N.J; and Washington, D.C. "Eventually, we could see as many as 80 of these sprinkled around the country," he concludes.

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