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5 Beauty Retail Tech Trends to Watch Out for in 2018

5 Beauty Retail Tech Trends to Watch Out for in 2018

January 03,2018 Posted by Libby Davies

Annual British beauty sales topped £4bn in 2016, and the rapidly growing sector is showing no signs of slowing down. UK success has been driven by double-digital growth in make-up sales, a strong Christmas market, and Black Friday, which is now a well-established part of the beauty market calendar. In fact, the UK beauty market is now twice the size of the Italian and Spanish markets, and in Europe, the UK beauty industry is second only to Germany in size. 

Although the UK beauty industry has often been at the forefront of retail technology, the last few years have seen the experience of shopping for (and purchasing) beauty products change significantly. 

Just as typical shopper behaviour has changed in line with technology, so too have the ways in which retailers entice and appeal to their customers; and both of these factors have resulted in an increased use of technology across the beauty retail sector. 

With the rise of smartphone technology, people's first contact with their favourite brand is typically through their mobile, including the likes of mobile-first company websites, social media, product reviews and more. This means that brands now have a far more superior online presence compared to ten, or even five, years ago. With a pressing need to update their various platforms and channels with fresh content regularly, successful brands are those that recognise their consumers' desire for personalisation, interaction and innovative products. 

In this article, we take a look at five of the biggest technology trends that we believe will make a huge impact on the beauty retail industry in 2018 and beyond. From augmented reality to magic mirrors, in-store technology is rapidly changing the face of the beauty industry, making this an exciting time for a sector that shows no signs of slowing down. 


1. Augmented Reality


One of the most promising trends in the beauty industry is augmented reality. Current projections suggest that augmented reality will generate $120 billion in revenue by 2020 (Retail Perceptions) - so it's hardly surprising that beauty retailers are keen to introduce the technology to their shoppers.

It's not only retailers who are keen on the idea of augmented reality, either. Research has shown that 71% of retail shoppers would shop at a store more often if they offered an augmented reality experience, with 61% of customers preferring to shop at stores that offer an augmented reality service over those that don't. 

Furthermore, 40% stated they would be willing to pay more for a product if they could experience it through augmented reality first, which certainly makes this tech trend one to watch out for as it grows more sophisticated in the upcoming years. 

But what exactly does it do? And how can beauty retailers use it to their advantage?

"AR is the total immersion within a virtual space that can often be sold as a form of escapism. However, the future will not be about escaping reality, but rather augmenting the existing space within the digital world," Josh Hewer, technology analyst at GlobalData

In other words, augmented reality expertly blurs the lines between the physical and online worlds. It can help shoppers to view a live image of their environment (or, in the case of the beauty industry, their own face) enhanced with computer-generated images. These images can include sound, graphics and videos, and they allow shoppers to 'view' how a product might look in real life. 

So, in the case of the beauty industry, shoppers can see how a particular shade of lipstick will compliment their skin tone, without having to revert to pre-used testers or purchasing the item without testing at all. This creates a truly valuable, personalised shopping experience that will set brands above their competition. 

In fact, major beauty retailer Sephora is way ahead of the trend when it comes to incorporating augmented reality into their customer experience. Back in 2015, the innovative brand opened a 'flash store in Paris, complete with digital 'look books' and interactive terminals designed to drive real-time customer interaction and engagement. Using an app called 'Pocket Contour', Sephora shoppers could even access how-to guides for products, specifically tailored to them as an individual. The initiative was a great success, with many beauty retailers taking note, and 2018 should most definitely see some remarkable innovation across the sector. 


2. In-Store Tablets


Many beauty retailers have started to recognise the benefits that can come from making use of tablets in-store to drive sales and customer engagement. For example, POS systems can be easily integrated with tablets to help retailers benefit from easy-to-use data collection features, as well as having the capability to push digital content that can help to boost shop floor assistants' sales knowledge. 

Tablets are also ideal for the promotion of self-service, as well as providing additional advertising space during periods of inactivity. "Picture This" selling can also be an innovative way of utilising tablets in the beauty industry with some stores showing tutorials and demonstrations of their products that customers can interact with in a non-pressured, leisurely way.  

3. Digital Shelf Edge


Although the concept of 'electronic labels' have been around for some time, advances in shelf edge technology have seen digital shelf edge capability and usages expand beyond simply displaying pricing. With modern shelf edge displays, it's easier than ever before for retailers to deliver promotional campaigns directly to product shelves and key merchandising areas. Digital shelf edges also enable retailers to influence in-store purchases with loyalty card incentives, online reviews, dynamic pricing and much more. 

Furthermore, by updating shelf edge content in real-time, beauty brands can update prices quickly and are able to advertise special offers and incentives to customers in a new and exciting ways. 

For shoppers, this new technology can also aid their decision making process, which will ultimately increase sales. The ability to include product reviews on the shelf edge will help to meet the demand that almost 50% of shopper's place on retailer's for other customer's opinions, as well as utilising the best aspects of influencer marketing.

4. "Magic" Mirrors


Increasingly, shoppers are searching for a new and engaging digital experience when they enter a shop; and "Magic" Mirrors are certainly one way to accomplish this. Magic mirrors are interactive kiosks that look, to the naked eye, like any other, regular mirror. However, once a shopper touches the glass, interactive digital content is displayed across the surface - making this particular tech trend one a perfect fit for the beauty industry. 

Placed strategically throughout the physical beauty store, magic mirrors will enable any customer to read reviews of products, check whether a particular product is in stock, browse an entire catalogue of items in a variety of shades and editions, or to even be inspired by a gallery of make-up looks achieved by other shoppers - the possibilities are endless. 

However, for a truly next-level shopper experience, customers could even use the magic mirrors in-store to control the lighting around them, creating day-time and night-time environments as required.   

5. Interactive Experiences

When it comes to providing an shopper experience that sets a brand apart from the crowd, interactivity is key. Digital interaction is now becoming more and more commonplace in a physical setting, and the retail beauty sector is no exception. In 2018, we can expect to see the level of personalised and interactive experiences increasing greatly, with retailers making use of a combination of technologies that can work in unison to create a seamless, highly engaging customer journey through the store. 



Retail Perceptions: Retail Industry Insights for Today’s Retailers and CPGS. “The Impact of Augmented Reality On Retail”, October 2016. 

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