STORE SPACES

Beauty giant goes high-tech with its first-ever store

BY Marianne Wilson

It took 60 years, but CoverGirl has made its brick-and-mortar debut.

The iconic cosmetics brand opened its first permanent retail store, a sleek, two level flagship in the heart of Manhattan’s Times Square. Designed to serve as the physical embodiment of CoverGirl’s “I Am What I Make Up” philosophy, the 10,000-sq.-ft. space offers shoppers an immersive experience in what is billed as an “experiential beauty playground.”

Minimalist black and white décor with pops of vibrant color are the backdrop to a interior where shoppers are encouraged to try-on and experiment with CoverGirl products. (CoverGirl said it worked with a number of different partners to bring the store to life, from its designer, FRCH Design Worldwide, to its general contractor, Shawmut.)

The space offers a variety of digital experiences, starting with a virtual greeter, “Olivia.” Powered by Dialogflow, Google’s platform for building AI-powered conversations, Olivia can direct shoppers to products, share beauty trend advice and more.

Other high-tech experiences include augmented reality “glam” stations (powered by Holition) where shoppers can virtually try a lipstick and eyeshadow just by picking up their color choice in the tray. They can complete the look with coordinating blushes, mascaras and foundation – and digitally share the virtual makeover with friends.

Customers can physically try on makeup, and receive makeup applications by “CoverGirl BFFs,” who are also on hand to give out out tips, tricks and product recommendations. A customization station allows shoppers to personalize lipsticks and makeup bags.

“The CoverGirl flagship represents this incredible moment in beauty – where rich experiences matter most and where true self-expression and experimentation are the only beauty standards,” said Coty consumer beauty chief marketing officer Ukonwa Ojo.

The store, which is open to midnight seven days a week, is located on 7th Ave., ton the corner of West 49th St.

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STORE SPACES

ShopperTrak: Black Friday store traffic down

BY Marianne Wilson

Visits to physical stores and shopping centers on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday fell this year amid big increases in online spending.

According to ShopperTrak, shopper visits were down 1% for the two-day period compared to last year, with a 1.7% decline in traffic on Black Friday and a versus 2017. This slight traffic variance is consistent with data results over the last several years, the firm noted, with the decline beginning to flatten out.

“The fact that the combined shopper visits remained almost the same this year compared to the last three years proves that the notion of Black Friday not being popular anymore is a myth,” said Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting for ShopperTrak, a Tyco Retail Solutions’ brand. “Shopping in physical stores during the holidays continues to be an exciting annual event for consumers and based on the Black Friday traffic data, retailers are in for a successful holiday season.”

Online sales reached a record of $6.22 billion Black Friday, up 23.6% from last year, according to Adobe Analytics. Online sales on Thanksgiving Day rose 28% to $3.7 billion, making it the fastest-growing day for e-commerce sales in history.  Consumers who didn’t want to shop in stores nonetheless flocked there to pick up goods, with click-and-collect orders growing 73% from Thursday to Friday, a sign that retailers are successfully bridging online and offline retail operations, Adobe said.

Eight of the 10 busiest shopping days (as predicted by ShopperTrak) are still to come, including Super Saturday, which will fall on Dec. 22, and the Sunday before Christmas, Dec. 23. Notably, for the third year in a row, there are four Saturdays in December prior to Christmas Day, which will enhance the importance of both Dec. 8 and Dec. 15. In addition, similar to last year, the Saturday after Christmas, Dec. 29, is expected to be one of the busiest shopping days taking the last spot on the top 10 busiest day’s list.

“To ensure success, retailers must have their inventory well-stocked with quality, high-demand products and their staff prepared,” said Field. “Providing an unparalleled customer experience throughout the shopper journey makes the season festive and fun and will bring shoppers back well beyond the holidays.”

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Gap looking to close hundreds of namesake stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Gap Inc. is set to take drastic action with regards to its ailing namesake division — and sooner rather than later.

Speaking on the chain’s quarterly call with analysts, Gap CEO Art Peck said that the biggest challenge with the Gap brand has to do with certain “legacy elements,” notably real estate obligations that currently “encumber” the business. The company operates 775 Gap stores globally, and “the range from the very best to the very worst is extremely broad,” Peck added.

“Addressing the bottom half of the fleet represents over $100 million of earnings contribution opportunity and it is that portion of the fleet that is dragging down the brand,” he said. “This is the piece of the business that we are firmly committed to addressing with urgency.”

Peck, who spoke with analysts shortly after the retailer released its third quarter results in which sales at the namesake division tumbled 7%, said the company is evaluating Gap flagship stores around the world, with an objective eye on which ones provide sufficient value to keep.

“Beyond that, there are hundreds of other stores that likely don’t fit our vision for the future of Gap brand specialty store, whether in terms of profitability, customer experience, traffic trends, importantly the ROI structure and/or near and long-term relevance to the brand,” Peck said. “These stores are a drag on the health and a drag on the performance of the brand.”

Peck told analysts strategic action on the Gap fleet is overdue.

“There likely will be a cash cost to exit many of these stores, which we will attempt to minimize with appropriate sequencing,” he said. “But I plan to exit those that do not fit the future vision quickly. I’m going to move thoughtfully, but aggressively.”

The CEO emphasized that stores remain an important part of the customer journey, and that there are a significant number of specialty and outlet Gap stores that have positive trajectory and long-term relevance.

“It is this healthy core of the brand that we will focus on to deliver future value,” he said.

More details about Gap store closures are expected when the company provides its forecast for the next fiscal year.

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