Why is Sephora paying associates to leave shoppers alone?
In at least some European markets, Sephora offers shoppers two basket options: a red one indicating “I would like to be assisted” and a black one indicating “I would like to shop on my own.”
News of the beauty chain’s move went viral in early November after a Sephora shopper traveling from Seattle tweeted an image of the colored basket options and wrote, “There is a fellow introvert on the Sephora customer experience team who deserves A RAISE RIGHT NOW.”
Replies to the tweet were nearly unanimously positive. Many fumed about being asked multiple times if they need help in stores such as Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret’s, Best Buy, Apple and Home Depot. The benefit of avoiding awkward encounters with sales associates was also cited. Many wanted to ask for help when they needed it rather than be prompted.
Wrote Leah Prinzivalli for Allure magazine, “The color-coded system saves everyone time; certainly, Sephora would rather its employees spend more time with the people who actually want help, instead of approaching customers who will wave them away. But more importantly for shoppers, it could help them avoid an anxiety-producing experience with a store employee.”
There is a fellow introvert on the Sephora customer experience team who deserves A RAISE RIGHT NOW pic.twitter.com/4Aan7lUyVD
— Cami Williams (@cwillycs) November 4, 2019
Online, many consumers shop and conduct extensive research on their own, and may be bringing those behaviors to the store. For The Goods, Terry Nguyen, wrote, “When most things can be bought from home with the push of a button, the reason shoppers bother to come into stores becomes all the more important for brands to understand and accommodate.”
Innisfree, a Korean beauty store, provides a similar basket-for-assistance option.
Some of the replies to the tweet commiserated with associates who must follow a “one ask rule” required by management. A few addressed the challenges of knowing when a customer needs help. Wrote one Twitter user, “I work at Ulta. We can never win! Whenever we’re overly friendly, people get mad at us. When we don’t ask as much, the next day we see a negative survey saying no one in the store was there to help. What the heck are we supposed to do?”
- Cami Williams – Twitter
- In the age of online shopping, where do IRL salespeople fit in?- The Goods – The Goods/Vox
- A European Sephora’s Color-Coded Shopping Baskets Are Going Viral – Allure
- These shopping baskets tell salespeople if you need help—or if not – The Daily Dot
- A Sephora Store Used Color-Coded Baskets To Determine Who Did Or Didn’t Want Assistance – Bustle
- Beauty giant Sephora introduces colour-coded baskets so customers with social anxiety can browse without being approached by staff – Daily Mail
- The Connected Retailer: Survey Finds Consumers Prefer Self-Service Technology Over Traditional Interactions with Retail Sales Associates – SOTI
- New RetailMeNot Data Shows Mobile Devices Play a Critical Role for Consumers While Shopping in Physical Retail Stores – RetailMeNot
- New Survey Finds 95 Percent of Shoppers Want to Be Left Alone in Stores – HRC Retail Advisory/Business Wire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Has online shopping changed shopper expectations for in-store engagement? What do you think of Sephora’s basket-assistance system?