Does Sephora need a same-day delivery subscription?

Photo: Getty Images/M. Suhail
Oct 03, 2022

Sephora has launched a subscription program that allows shoppers to get unlimited same-day delivery in as little as two hours for $49 a year.

The beauty retailer created the Same-Day Unlimited program following its June survey that found 63 percent of beauty shoppers would use same-day delivery if they ran out of a product and needed an immediate replacement. The same study found delivery within hours was the most desired service by respondents.

“Beauty ‘emergencies’ can happen at any time,” Sephora said in a statement obtained by The service is only available to customers within range of the service.

Sephora also offers one-off same-day delivery within two hours through Uber, Doordash and Shipt for a fee starting at $6.95. The company recently started offering members of its Beauty Insiders free rewards program free standard delivery with no minimum purchase required as well as auto-replenishment on repeat purchases.

Nadine Graham, SVP and general manager of e-commerce at Sephora, told WWD that research shows convenience is top-of-mind for beauty shoppers.

“We are really trying to build that ultimate kind of ecosystem for them to make shopping as easy and seamless as possible,” said Ms. Graham. “It also allows us to build this kind of ecosystem with our local stores; stores can serve these clients by delivering straight to their homes. It just deepens that connection that we have with our clients.”

Many retailers have partnered with delivery platforms to support one-off same-store delivery for a fee. In November 2021, Sephora competitor Ulta Beauty partnered with DoorDash to offer same-day delivery from select cities.

Most delivery subscription programs focus on grocery — delivery of non-grocery items in under two hours is rare.

In January, 7‑Eleven introduced 7NOW Gold Pass, which offers free delivery typically in about 30 minutes for $5.95 a month. Walmart+ members must pay an extra $10 Walmart Express fee for delivery of food, consumables and general merchandise in under two hours. Amazon Prime members earn free same-store delivery “in just a few hours” for eligible items in select cities on orders over $25 ($2.99 fee under $25).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see enough consumer appeal for Sephora’s Same-Day Unlimited offering? Will same-day delivery subscription programs eventually extend well beyond grocery and everyday essentials?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"A same-day delivery for 'beauty emergencies' seems ultra-niche. A few Sephora customers may sign up, but this doesn’t have long-term legs."
"Either way, it keeps with the industry trend of focusing on subscription, swift fulfillment, and convenience."
"Subscription models are great. But at some point we have to challenge the reality of same-day, two-hour, one-hour delivery models."

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23 Comments on "Does Sephora need a same-day delivery subscription?"

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Mark Ryski

No doubt some of Sephora’s customers will want this service. But given the many demands most consumers are facing, I wonder if the consumer need is sufficient to make this program sustainable. Same-day subscriptions are proliferating as retailers and brands fight to acquire subscription revenue, but I do wonder how all these subscription services can exist. How much is too much?

Christine Russo

This is the balanced dumbbell approach to a subscription because a subscription keeps the product flowing but people can still run out of items and need it. This is a good answer to that.

Neil Saunders

I don’t think this will be a priority for many consumers, especially because “beauty emergencies” when you can’t get to a store are relatively few and far between. On other occasions, most shoppers will be happy with standard shipping times. That said, there is no harm in offering this as some consumers may find it useful – so it just adds another string to Sephora’s customer service bow.

Katie Thomas

Agreed – most consumers are either happy with standard shipping times or run into a physical store.

DeAnn Campbell

The concept of a “beauty emergency” is flawed, and out of tune with today’s shoppers. Same-day delivery for beauty products is not a benefit most shoppers care about, and in fact goes against environmental stances that shoppers are becoming aware of and adopting. The cost of same-day delivery hurts the company’s bottom line far more than any benefit they may see from the minimal loyalty this will draw. There are far more relevant benefits Sephora could offer than rapid delivery to make this program work.

Patricia Vekich Waldron

I have mixed feelings – in some cases (like leaving on holiday, a bad breakout, etc.) same-day service is a great options. Given that (more than half) the fun of Sephora is the high-touch in-store experience I’m not sure they will get enough traction on subscriptions.

David Slavick

Jumping on the subscription model is not unexpected. Beauty emergencies are a frequent event? Reducing foot traffic could actually suppress average ticket as the in-store shopping experience in beauty and fragrance is influenced by associate up-selling as well as impulse buying. There is a reason why fragrance shelves have samplers.

Ken Morris

I kind of wish that same-day delivery wouldn’t extend beyond grocery and everyday essentials, but that won’t be the case. We have an insatiable desire to have it now in spite of the environmental considerations. Consumers’ number one priorities are price and convenience.

Also, Sephora’s same-day delivery has drone service written all over it. A two-hour window will be fine for most, but drone delivery is in the (pun intended) pilot stage already. The drones from Prime Air, Amazon’s drone service about to be tested in Lockeford, California, can fly 50 miles an hour. There are three Sephora locations within an hour for delivery there, and one that’s less than 20 minutes away by drone. Something tells me there are some Sephora customers who would pay a premium to get their makeup delivered that fast. The round-trip drive to the closest store in Stockton: an hour.

Jeff Weidauer

A same-day delivery for “beauty emergencies” seems ultra-niche. A few Sephora customers may sign up, but this doesn’t have long-term legs.

Heidi Sax

If the competitors are offering same-day delivery, then I suppose Sephora “needs” it in the same way that consumers “need” it. I wonder how many of Sephora’s consumers live within a stone’s throw of a Sephora to pick up the items themselves and how much lost revenue this will help them recoup. Either way, it keeps with the industry trend of focusing on subscription, swift fulfillment, and convenience.

Cathy Hotka

Sounds like an ultra-niche market — this may work if Sephora invests the minimum.

Kevin Graff

Subscription models are great. But at some point we have to challenge the reality of same-day, two-hour, one-hour delivery models. The impact on the environment of delivering single items can’t be ignored. There’s so much good research available on the negative impact of same-day delivery. I’m not a “granola cruncher” typically, but watching all the delivery vans/cars racing around these days dropping off single packages makes you wonder what the “emergency” really is.

Gary Sankary

I don’t see this as being a game-changer for Sephora. In my observations, when “beauty emergencies” occur, it’s usually when someone is actually using the product, and typically before an event or as part of the morning ritual. Sephora would need 10-minute delivery windows to really meet the need they’re trying to address here. Most consumers of beauty products, I suspect, are getting by with what they have when the “crisis” happens. Next-day delivery or a trip to the store will meet most of their needs.

Brandon Rael

Sephora continues to find ways to innovate and drive outstanding customer experiences. Subscription services have proven to be another viable revenue stream. However a same-day delivery subscription service may not be a sustainable or profitable business model. There is an element of subscription service fatigue, and there may not be enough beauty emergencies to make this a viable business model.

Kenneth Leung

I think there is a niche of customers that will pay the $49 a year for emergencies (I am thinking beauty influencers, event planners, frequent travelers). The question is whether this can be done profitably in terms of program costs and long-term customer loyalty. Same-day deliveries are expensive transactions for retailers when the service is unlimited.

Phil Rubin

For Sephora loyalists, same-day delivery has true value. For the same reason that department stores traditionally keep beauty on the main floor for convenience and driving frequency. This could be as much a defensive play for Sephora to maintain and grow share of wallet as it is a net growth driver. Much like the traditional Nordstrom promise of “we’ll open the store for top customers after hours in case of emergency,” this is nice to have in terms of reinforcing the value proposition of the brand.

Doug Garnett

Delivery is not a sustainable competitive advantage unless a company has discovered a delivery goose with a golden egg. Retailers need to innovate with their core product — the store and the curation which brings products to the store. Without that, there is no long term survival.

Brian Delp
3 months 28 days ago

Absolutely. Convenience is key, and Sephora has diehard loyal customers that will certainly take advantage. I am curious if/how they would integrate this into shop-in-shop models such as Sephora locations in Kohl’s.

Craig Sundstrom

Let’s hope no one signs up for this; it sounds like the road to financial ruin. Presumably they’re hoping people sign up for this and then only use it a few times a year — hence a per/delivery cost of $16-49 — but it only takes a few enthusiasts using it every week to plunge this into an abyss of red-ink.

Shep Hyken

It’s all about ways to be more convenient for our customers. Sephora is doing exactly that. Nothing is new here. It’s just new for Sephora. More and more will be offering a same day/super-fast delivery option.

Ananda Chakravarty

If this is the starting point for a much larger subscription value, then it makes sense. By larger, I mean more value added services such as a consultation with a beauty specialist over video or exclusive product options like a 2 week opportunity to buy [insert fav celebrity here]’s newest makeup kit that hasn’t yet hit the market — the subscription offering can be a winner.


I don’t see a lot of love for this concept, but I personally love it for the experience. Especially for those times when you have an immediate need while on a trip, or are getting ready for a special occasion and have not thought ahead. I would recommend a monthly fee, not annual. I applaud Sephora for giving it a try.

Anil Patel

Sephora identified a gap and devised an excellent strategy to pave its way into subscription-based programs. Customers usually spend their disposable income on beauty products. I believe the added benefit of the Same-Day Unlimited offering would definitely attract more customers. Moreover, a yearly subscription charge isn’t a hefty payment for customers who look to experience premium services.

"A same-day delivery for 'beauty emergencies' seems ultra-niche. A few Sephora customers may sign up, but this doesn’t have long-term legs."
"Either way, it keeps with the industry trend of focusing on subscription, swift fulfillment, and convenience."
"Subscription models are great. But at some point we have to challenge the reality of same-day, two-hour, one-hour delivery models."

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