By  on August 3, 2007

Five of the most-watched retailers reveal how they tackle beauty's five most pressing issues. The trailblazers on our panel discuss how they create compelling shopping experiences, what their product mix says about their stores and why exclusives are more important than ever before.

Howard Kreitzman
Vice President
Cosmetics and Fragrances

Deborah Walters
Senior Vice President gmm Cosmetics and Fragrances
Saks Fifth Avenue

Allen Burke
Director of Beauty Merchandising

Nicky Kinnaird
President and Creative Director
Space NK

Cheryl Mahoney
Vice President of Merchandising for Beauty Care
CVS Pharmacy

1. When it comes to beauty, what do you want to be known for, and what steps are you taking to give customers an experiential, rather than transactional, shopping environment?

Howard Kreitzman/Bloomingdale's: What is most important to us is that we offer the brands that our customers want to buy that are consistent with the upscale nature of the rest of Bloomingdale's assortment. And we want to provide the opportunity to buy those brands from the most knowledgeable sales associates in the world. Sales associates are the only way we can differentiate ourselves. We all sell the same flavor of ice cream. In terms of experience, the high-cost answer is the way that we build our store. I just returned from California where we opened South Coast Plaza. The store has personalized installations for each of the [beauty] brands. Having an environment that is inviting and aesthetically pleasing is part of the experience. The other part is that we are very strongly focused on events. There is nothing that gets the customer's attention like something going on. We want to have an event happening in every store, every single day. And that's very hard to do.

Deborah Walters/Saks Fifth Avenue: We provide our customers with the best brands in beauty and in the most inviting and gracious shopping environment. We are focused on training to ensure that our associates have in-depth product knowledge and can thus provide the very best in personalized service. We encourage our associates to familiarize themselves Forwith the customers so that we can best service them. Many of our Saks Fifth Avenue locations have a highly advanced point-of-sale clienteling system that allows us great visibility into our customer's preferences, which makes all the difference. In addition, Saks Fifth Avenue has a strong calendar of not-to-be-missed, highly personalized events, including by-appointment spa-facials, master classes with skilled makeup artists and public appearances.

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