Sephora store at IFC mall reflects the phygital world

The new Sephora store at IFC mall which opened this week represents the global beauty retail brand’s current focus on creating a phygital experience – merging the physical and digital points of engagement with customers. 

“Today’s customer experience begins on the mobile, which is why the main part of the store is dedicated to the experience to draw them in,” explains the store’s designer, Paris-based Hubert de Malherbe.

“The transaction is built at the back of the store and we dedicate the makeup consultation area to a personalised experience.”

In Hong Kong – and Asia generally – the store’s focus on skincare is greater than in other parts of the world where colour cosmetics might draw more custom. That is because the average Asian woman uses seven or eight skincare products versus just two in Europe. 

De Malherbe, founder of Malherbe Paris, which counts several LVMH-owned brands among its client list, along with Alibaba’s Hema, says in order for a brand to successfully implement the phygital experience, it must first have the right appeal. 

“The question is – are you attractive enough to build consistent experience? Sephora is cool and clever, it is an international brand – one of its kind – that delivers a strong value.”

And that is also why the new Sephora store stands out from its peers at IFC mall.

“Sephora is funky, young, digital and inspiring. The shopping experience is a selection of smaller ranges from different brands – this is an alternative experience than the standalone beauty stores.”

The Sephora store at IFC mall opened on Tuesday, presenting what the company describes as “the most extensive brand portfolio in the market”. Some 40 brands have made their Hong Kong debut in the new space, a relatively small footprint which took over half the area occupied by fast-fashion chain Zara until recently. 

As the photos show, Malherbe has created a bright, dazzling store environment with plenty of technology and space to interact with customers rather than just present a range of products to them. 

De Malherbe says while the store may be small, the design is consistent with the latest generation of Sephora stores internationally. While it is a house of many brands, the most important of them is Sephora itself. 

“Sephora should not be seen as just the distributor because it is a strong brand in itself,” he explains, observing that despite a 10-year absence from Hong Kong, people there know the Sephora name and is ready for its return.

  • Additional reporting Tiffany Lung.

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