Do consumers need beauty products delivered within an hour?

Discussion
Source: Instacart/Sephora
Sep 28, 2020
Tom Ryan

Sephora is partnering with Instacart to support online delivery of beauty products in “as fast as an hour” from local retail stores across the country.

Customers will be able to have Sephora’s selection of makeup, skincare, haircare, fragrances and beauty tools delivered for the same price as in-store via Instacart’s online marketplace. The standard delivery fee is $3.99 for same-day orders over $35; fees vary for one-hour deliveries and those under $35.

To support the partnership, the product functionality of Sephora’s Instacart marketplace shop has been reconfigured to mimic the retailer’s in-store experience. Customers will be able to “seamlessly browse and shop from Sephora’s more than 300 carefully curated brands and thousands of unique products, and quickly find their perfect color through a new, one-click shade selector.”

“We’re always looking for unique yet practical ways to meet our clients at every touchpoint and, now more than ever, we know they seek ease and convenience,” said Carolyn Bojanowski, SVP and general manager of e-commerce at Sephora.

The partnership comes as Sephora, Ulta Beauty and others have paused in-store sampling, given the potential risk of COVID-19 infections from shared samples, while launching a host of virtual trial options. Curbside pickup and BOPIS drove Ulta’s e-commerce sales ahead more than 200 percent for its second quarter.

Instacart, best known as a grocery delivery platform, in March announced plans to hire 300,000 more workers as demand surged for grocery deliveries. But the pandemic has also helped Instacart launch with nearly 150 additional retailers, including a number of non-grocery chains that are serving as a test for same-day potential across a wide range of categories.

New categories include convenience items from 7-Eleven, office and school supplies from Staples, household goods and essentials from Walmart and Big Lots and health and wellness products from The Vitamin Shoppe. Deals were also reached for prescription delivery from Costco and front-end items from Rite Aid.

Chris Rogers, VP of retail at Instacart, said in a statement, “For many people, the essentials they need go beyond fresh food and pantry staples.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How would you rate the appeal of beauty products for same-day delivery? Do you expect to see same-day delivery to largely remain focused on grocery and essentials or quickly spreading to a wide range of non-essential categories?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"How many things are so important that we really need to have them delivered within an hour? That question aside, why not beauty products?"
"The bigger issue we need to ask ourselves is whether this shift to ratcheting up the last mile battle is good overall."
"How ever consumer expectations have changed regarding instant gratification, the Holy Grail still seems to be instant gratification."

Join the Discussion!

18 Comments on "Do consumers need beauty products delivered within an hour?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

While most people are happy to wait for online beauty orders, there are some who require immediacy either because they need the products for some reason or because they are impatient. Either way, this service helps fill that niche. More broadly, it is part of a move to expand choice in delivery and fulfillment so that consumers have many different options to pick from. Given that this service requires operational flexibility, and is more costly than standard delivery, it doesn’t surprise me that Sephora partnered with Instacart. And that’s great for Instacart as it shows the platform has many applications beyond standard grocery and household goods.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

How many things are so important that we really need to have them delivered within an hour? That question aside, why not beauty products? You can currently get same-day delivery of drug store beauty brands via CVS and Instacart, and product ordered on Amazon appears overnight, so it makes sense for Sephora to get in on the action. The additional delivery fees won’t be important to people who choose/require this service.

Xavier Lederer
BrainTrust

Most days it might not matter much whether products can be delivered in one hour. A few days per year, this can be absolutely crucial though: on Valentine’s Day or on your girlfriend’s birthday that you completely forgot. If Sephora can build a strong enough delivery system that can sustain high peaks (like on Valentine’s Day), this can become a strong competitive advantage in the gifting category.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Good points! But an hour might not help much if you forget your girlfriend’s birthday; only a little blue box from Tiffany will help there. 🙂

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

I think if there is interest in getting pharmacy, c-store products, and office supplies in an hour, why not cosmetics? If people are willing to pay more for the quick delivery and it’s a sustainable business, then there is no reason not to pursue it.

Jeff Weidauer
BrainTrust

There are few essentials that anyone really needs within an hour, or even the same day. But that’s not the point. For those willing to pay there are now providers who will indulge that desire. The bigger question is whether a one-hour option for nearly anything will set a consumer expectation in the same manner as free delivery has.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Not being a user of beauty products, I am unqualified to comment on that specifically.

But thinking about same-day delivery, I think of two scenarios. If I am working on something and realize I need a tool, a part, paper, ink, whatever, same-day delivery doesn’t help me. I just go get what I need or pack up my work until tomorrow.

However if I am planning something for the evening and that morning I realize I need something for that evening (ingredients for a dish, a piece of apparel, a beauty product, whatever) then I roll the dice, order and hope I get it on time. In that case, it is worth whatever time and effort I save to actually get it myself. $3.99, easy. Depending on the situation, I would go for $5, $10, $15.

With regard to non-essential items (meaning I don’t need them right now), occasionally we get same-day from Amazon without even asking for it. A nice surprise, but that is Amazon’s decision, not our need.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

If they are willing to pay a “fair” price for it that reflects the cost of the service then sure. However at some point the wastefulness of point to point delivery service vs. a unified carrier working a route and doing multiple deliveries on the same tank of gas has to catch up with us.

Brett Busconi
Guest

The frequency of usage will rate the appeal for us — for me, this would not be important. I am not their target — I imagine for many that this will be very appealing but time will tell us beyond a doubt. I expect same-day to absolutely expand to non-essential — it is already expanding.

One issue I have experienced in trying out Instacart for use outside of grocery is that my tolerance for product substitution is much lower. If I need milk, I can take a different brand or even perhaps a different type/%. If I order a chair mat for my home office and a hardwood floor chair mat delivers in place of a carpet chair mat, now I have to deal with returns. For grocery they just credit it if something is wrong to the point of being unusable — how will Instacart/others address the return needs for larger ticket items?

Steve Dennis
BrainTrust

Very few consumers have a beauty emergency that requires products delivered within an hour. Yet as we have seen with other convenience offerings, when an expedited service is made available, a surprising number of customers choose it. In my experience this can be as simple as just getting it off a “to do” list, not an underlying product need. The good thing is that they are charging for it, rather than engaging in the free delivery wars which are often a race to the bottom or (more cynically) an attempt by Amazon to squeeze competition. The bigger issue we need to ask ourselves is whether this shift to ratcheting up the last mile battle is good overall. Environmentally it is almost certainly not.

Ian Percy
BrainTrust

We keep digging the hole deeper and deeper.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

It is not so much of the appeal of beauty products delivered the same day, it’s what has become the normal expectation. Same-day or faster delivery is now an expectation.

Chuck Palmer
BrainTrust

Of course Sephora is experimenting with one-hour delivery. How ever consumer expectations have changed regarding instant gratification, the Holy Grail still seems to be instant gratification.

Or at least the perception of such things.

If we were to survey Sephora’s customers we would probably see an even spread of expectations of delivery. I think the key benefit for Sephora is the competitive advantage of the first mover position.

Meaghan Brophy
BrainTrust

During a time where people are attending events or traveling regularly, I can see this service being popular. However with the pandemic and current state of the economy, I would expect less demand for same-day delivery on non-essential items, especially considering Sephora’s higher price point.

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

Great marketing move. Here we are talking about it.
No skin off Sephora’s neck, they are charging for the service.

Verlin Youd
BrainTrust

Speaking as the father of two daughters and as a husband, I have seen more than a handful of health and beauty emergencies, from dropped products, broken applicators, and just plain running out before anticipated.

Similar to same day grocery deliveries, this is likely to start in urban environments where demand is likely to be the greatest and then slowly move out to suburban environments as retailers work out how to provide this service profitably or are required as a competitive response. Great point made below that many health and beauty products are already available same day and in some cases within an hour from the likes of Amazon/Whole Foods, Walgreens, CVS, and supermarkets. I only see the trend continuing, however, it will be interesting to see how retailers price in this service particularly in comparison to BOPIS/Curbside offers.

Andrew Blatherwick
BrainTrust

As retailers, we can all understand why companies want to get a competitive advantage and provide great customer service, but is this one step too far? Do customers really want this service or is it a marketing idea that is telling them they want it? Surely there comes a point where responsible retailers must think of the damage they are doing to the environment before they launch new initiatives like this, when you are delivering in such short notice there is no opportunity to schedule deliveries routes to make them efficient from a cost or environmental point of view. They are delivered direct to people wherever they live and that is the worst possible form of transport non-optimization. It is, in fact, the opposite of optimization. Do people need this so much they are prepared to damage the planet? It is time retailers took a long hard look at what they are offering and if it is really necessary and a reasonable trade off.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Missing from the discussions here — I don’t fault the commenters, the question wasn’t asked — is any discussion of cost. Leaving aside, for the moment, issues of sustainability (other than the financial kind) or just common sense, it seems the question can be rephrased as “what’s the appeal of receiving for $3.99 something that costs $10, $15 … $40? to perform?” From the customers POV, I’m guessing pretty high; from the merchant’s, not so much.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"How many things are so important that we really need to have them delivered within an hour? That question aside, why not beauty products?"
"The bigger issue we need to ask ourselves is whether this shift to ratcheting up the last mile battle is good overall."
"How ever consumer expectations have changed regarding instant gratification, the Holy Grail still seems to be instant gratification."

Take Our Instant Poll

What’s the likelihood that same-day delivery of beauty products will become an expectation within three years?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...