Digital technology has impacted our world for decades, but its impact on the beauty shopping experience has never been more apparent than it is today. The beauty tech revolution is here. It’s imperative for brands to adapt quickly and recognize how advanced augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can help them reshape the way their consumers discover, try on, share and purchase beauty products in the modern world.

The global pandemic has brought with it a demand for new experiences that speak to modern-day shoppers — individuals who are cautious of heightened global health concerns, but also eager to return to in-store shopping experiences when circumstances allow.

With this in mind, “phygital” — i.e., physical plus digital — solutions like voice, gesture and contactless navigation for virtual try-on are helping these shoppers to safely experiment and digitally sample products before purchasing.

 

The phygital experience for online shoppers

While the concept of a common tester that everyone shares in-store has quickly been eliminated, the enduring desire to sample before buying remains, challenging brands to create touchless and contactless experiences that replace the product sampling of the past.

Moreover, the pandemic has prompted a surge in online shopping that has further challenged beauty brands to identify unique ways to enhance their web-based experiences — translating the increasingly realistic virtual experiences available on mobile devices to desktop web browsers.

In this way, the phygital experience is emerging. The more consumers try, the more they buy—this has been a proven concept for centuries, and virtual try-on beauty experiences have helped consumers sample and experiment with more products than ever before, often in a matter of seconds. By embracing beauty technology like AR and AI, brands can enhance their online beauty shopping experiences through interactive virtual try-on and personalized product matching solutions that drive business, with a proven 2.5-x increase in conversions.

Brands and retailers that open their minds to what beauty tech can offer their consumers in terms of enriched, personalized experiences can drive similar increases. Integrating a virtual try-on experience with a brand website, for example, has been shown to increase time spent on-site by 101 percent, accompanied by a welcome 8 percent decrease in returns, as reported in recent brand partner case studies.

Even in-store, when consumers can safely return to buying from the rack and the shelf, shoppers will be looking to engage with phygital experiences. As brick-and-mortar locations reopen, brands will still want to embrace AR and AI technologies that minimize person-to-person contact. Stations that enable customers to digitally try on products, skim through catalogs or complete purchases are destined to become standard features of many — perhaps most — beauty retail stores.

 

Beauty tech is making omni-channel engagement a reality

The consumer shopping experience is no longer linear. The sales funnel today is a convoluted web of online and offline experiences that continue to drive engagements and conversion. As consumers continue to rely on multi-channel shopping experiences, brands are challenged to adapt their consumer journeys across all customer touchpoints. It’s more important than ever for brands to create an omnichannel, seamless full-circle shopping journey. Advanced beauty technology and interactive virtual experiences help drive that strategy — empowering brands to deliver a cohesive customer journey, connecting the dots between online and in-person.

 

Even before the pandemic, Gen Z was driving a beauty tech revolution 

Livestream social communities and mobile shopping have long been the preference of Gen Z shoppers, even before the onset of a global pandemic. It was this demand for digital social connections and mobile shopping experiences that continued to pave the way for beauty tech and interactive shopping experiences delivered through mobile screens.

While the global pandemic has most certainly heightened the demand for virtual, contactless experiences, beauty tech solutions were recognized by brands and Gen Z consumers for their effective, convenient and results-driven solutions long before COVID-19.

The current global health climate has accelerated the rate of adoption for virtual beauty tech experiences and the importance of strong social communities by not only Gen Z consumers, but every generation. Beauty tech solutions are now seen as a true utility to enhance the consumer shopping experience, curbing hygiene concerns while still helping consumers make the most confident purchase decisions imaginable.

To dive deeper into the world of beauty tech, Perfect Corp. is hosting a free Global Beauty Tech Master Series, with the next session on August 26 at 1 p.m. EDT, and continuing until October 28. The five-part leadership series will help aspiring professionals excel as beauty tech masters, learning the digital tools and solutions that can help propel their business. A full schedule of webinars and free registration can be found here.