Alice Chang, CEO of Perfect Corp., which has worked with beauty brands such as Estée Lauder, Benefit, and e.l.f. cosmetics, explains how brands can leverage new ‘phygital’ technology to create experiential shopping journeys that unite the physical and digital worlds.
Times are changing and whether we like it or not, consumer behaviours are evolving with it. We have entered a new stage of consumerism, where the beauty shopper is forced to rely on digital tools to help bridge the gap left by disruptions to physical retail. We are thereby entering a new ‘phygital’ realm that is blurring the lines between our digital and physical worlds. For the beauty shopper, this means relying on virtual experiences, like those offered by Perfect Corp.’s YouCam beauty tech, that helps to serve the try-before-you-buy mentality that consumers have come to rely on for making confident purchasing decisions. With in-store testers retired for good due to heightened global health concerns sparked by COVID-19, beauty shoppers have quickly adopted beauty technology as a means to deliver on a safe, contactless product trial experience.
With quick consumer adoption and acceptance of virtual try-on, brands are now being challenged to re-imagine their in-store and online customer shopping experiences through this phygital lens. This means replacing touch screens with innovations like YouCam’s voice and gesture controls that deliver on the demand for contactless trial. This also means addressing face mask requirements which alter the nature of in-store virtual try-on. Enter YouCam’s unique arm swatch technology for lipstick, allowing shoppers to try on a selection of lip colours as virtual swatches along their forearm. These unique contactless beauty tech solutions are helping brands best serve the discerning modern-day shopper in a world rattled by a global pandemic.
This innovative virtual try-on experience in colour cosmetics has been expanded to include hair colour and skincare categories. Expansion into skincare was made possible through the combination of advanced AI beauty tech and camera lens improvements that deliver a personalised, instant skin health analysis through a smart device. It’s through this skincare diagnostic that YouCam has created a new phygital consumer experience for an entirely new category. These consumer-centric digital activations invite shoppers to safely engage in-store, and online, through personalised experiences that serve their individual needs with tailored product and style recommendations. It’s unique phygital solutions like these, that are safely re-introducing the experiential shopping journey that was driving consumers to stores pre-pandemic. By giving consumers the opportunity to experience and engage with brands and products across all beauty categories through fun, interactive digital experiences online and offline, beauty tech has proven to deliver a more satisfying shopping journey.
As consumer behaviour shifts to phygital, the demand for safe, contactless virtual try-on continues to grow, along with the need for fast, affordable solutions that small and indie brands can leverage. Indie beauty brands are met by unique challenges due to limited distribution channels and sparse, if any, storefronts. As a result, they rely heavily on the success of e-commerce and online marketing to drive business, making beauty tech solutions especially desirable. This notion challenged Perfect Corp. to develop YouCam for Web, the self-service plug-in for seamless integration of virtual try-on across small and indie brand websites.
Virtual try-on not only created an enhanced online consumer shopping experience but helped to boost consumer confidence while shopping at home and safely returning to brick and mortar. These creative solutions give brands and retailers a chance to reimagine their consumer journey through an interactive phygital experience that eases heightened health concerns and bypasses the limited face-to-face encounters which are challenging brands today. These interactive, engaging experiences invite an increased level of experimentation, discovery, and convenience — online and off — which was not previously possible with physical try-ons. The AI and AR virtual try-ons have increased brand engagement, basket size, and sales for brands and retailers. It has also proven to increase the amount of time spent onsite by 101 per cent, along with 20 per cent increases in add to cart for the products tried on virtually, and a 113 per cent increase in conversion rate from visitors to the brand’s website*.
As consumers return to in-store shopping, brands have turned to advanced beauty tech solutions to deliver a contactless, experiential retail environment that consumers will flock to. These digital-first solutions allow shoppers to virtually try-on products and receive personalised recommendations across makeup, hair, and skincare categories that match their individual preferences. This tailored, consumer-centric experience and the accuracy of YouCam’s hyper-realistic virtual try-on, has boosted consumer confidence in beauty tech, and resulted in customers recognising digital try-on as a true utility to enhance their shopping journey. It’s here, at the critical intersection of our physical and digital worlds, that brands are being challenged to lean into the phygital realm with creative new shopping experiences.
Perfect Corp is a partner of CEW UK, the only global membership community for the beauty industry. For more information or to join, please visit cewuk.co.uk
Alice H. Chang is the CEO of Perfect Corp., the developer of the award-winning YouCam apps, where she leads the team in building the world’s top virtual beauty platform powered by AR, AI, and machine-learning technologies. Alice is one of the first visionaries at the intersection of tech and beauty. Merging her extensive experience in technology with her passion for beauty, she developed a quick, efficient, and fun way to empower the consumer beauty journey through product discovery, makeup trials, social sharing and seamless purchase from any smart device. From 1997 to 2015, Alice was CEO of CyberLink Corp., where she propelled the company from a small startup to an award-winning global brand with rapid expansion. Alice currently resides in Taipei, Taiwan.