By  on July 23, 2012

What the Beauty Business Can Learn from Bed, Bath and Beyond

Dorm shopping is daunting. My 18-year-old daughter could have easily turned to the Internet to secure her needs for her new living space. Instead, she ventured off with her roommate–to-be (they met Facebook) to Bed, Bath and Beyond. The experience put my faith back into the store experience.

As WSL Strategic Retail has pointed out, many categories are being taken over by the web. The migration away from brick-and-mortar is reminiscent of category killers stealing business in the Eighties — now those same category killer stores are feeling the pinch. Efforts by Bed, Bath and Beyond are designed to lure consumers into the stores where they can touch, feel and play with products for college.

The shopping trip started, where else, in Paramus, N.J. —the shopping mecca of America. The duo wanted unique items no one else had so they started at a mall. Their spirits were quickly dashed by a lack of service and innovation. After coming up empty-handed, we went to Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Immediately upon entering, they were handed a guide with a checklist of what they need for college. Then there were assigned scanners to zap what they wanted and a store official even went department to department with them. He explained the good, better and best of each category and suggested when it was worth trading up and when it wasn’t.  Additionally, the purchases didn’t need to be taken home and carted to college in August. Bed, Bath & Beyond sends the order to the closest store to the college for pickup upon arrival. Eight hundred thirty three dollars later, the girls were set for college (or at least for now).

How can this be linked to beauty? One portion of the list is beauty supplies since much Bed, Bath and Beyond stores have Harmon stores under the one roof. The checklist includes hair trimmers, cosmetics, makeup removers, cologne, body spray, polish, tweezers, lip balm and mirrors. On the health are side, there’s pain relievers, vitamins, wipes, cold remedies and Band-Aids.

Several aspects of this shopping experience can be duplicated at mass market doors. During seasonal events such as back to school or holiday, in-store checklists are handy and can spur sales. Target, for example, does offer a back-to-school list. A drug chain could do a similar hit list for holidays.

IPads handed out to shoppers could take the place of the live staff member to explain products in different departments. More and more retailers are adding store educational tools near key departments. Some are investing in extra service for busy times.

As reported in WWD, Target is experimenting with a Beauty Concierge program in Chicago.  These concierges are not pushing one brand or another. Armed with iPads and mirrors, they can answer questions and give advice. Skin care will be one of the key informational areas and handling out samples will be a key endeavor. With the web encroaching on brick-and-mortar daily, it could be time for drastic measures to improve the store experience. Some shoppers might want to come in and order for home delivery; or order online and come to the store for instant gratification. No matter what, driving bodies into retail stores will be a major goal for retailers and manufacturers in the next five years. 

People, Places and Things

A few words with Vanessa Williams as she launches her new skin care ReVitalistic.

WWDBeautyNews: What is the target age of your new line?
V.W.:
There is no age limit or restriction for ReVitalistic Skincare, but if your goals are to reduce puffiness, diminish dark under-eye circles, discoloration and reverse the signs of overall aging, then my products are for you!

WWDBeautyNews: What is the product philosophy — is there a good for positioning?
V.W.:
I love the tag line for ReVitalistic Skincare — “Real Solutions for Real Women” — because it rings true for all of us. Personally, as a mother with a full-time job and scarce free time, I wanted to make beautiful skin easy to achieve and maintain by offering the best products sourced from around the world. We all want to look our best, especially when we don’t have the time to dedicate hours in front of the mirror.

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