Emily Tan
Mar 26, 2014

Audi and Sephora on fusing digital and retail: Adobe Summit

SALT LAKE CITY – Retailers can no longer afford to relegate IT to the back office because customers now expect a seamless online and offline experience, said Julie Bornstein EVP, chief marketing and digital officer Sephora in the Adobe Summit's opening keynote.

Sephora's Bornstein at the Adobe Summit
Sephora's Bornstein at the Adobe Summit

For Sephora, a global beauty department store, mobile has proven to be a “great sales and customer service device,” said Bornstein. “We continue to think about all the problems and opportunities we can address using mobile, both for sales associates and the customer.”

Some of the ideas for Sephora's mobile app and customer loyalty programme stem from Bornstein's personal experiences. “My sister and I were talking about how annoying it is to walk into a store and forget the shade of foundation you need to buy," she related. "Now there's this little device that is a record keeper of past purchases and everything you want to do.”

Integrated with Sephora's 'Beauty Insider' customer loyalty programme, the Sephora app keeps track of all past purchases, functions as a digital membership card and can be used to scan barcodes of products, showing customers more information and reviews.

A goal in fusing online and offline for Audi's GM of digital technology and strategy, Jeff Titus, is to be able to pick up in-store where the customer left off online. “We don't want to behave like it's a first-time interaction in-store,” he said during the keynote.

In designing both cars and marketing campaigns, brands should focus on technology that makes sense in the lifestyle of the consumer, he added.

But for companies to match consumer expectations, a project focus isn't going to work. Brands need to overhaul their entire process so continuous delivery across the board is possible. “Not just timely content, but any idea committed by a developer...or anyone in the business, will move towards development through a series of automated tests,” said Titus. It's about setting up as much of the approvals and testing process as possible ahead of time, so that companies can react and deploy in real time.

“We know how frustrating it is when you have a piece of functionality that your customer wants but it's risky to build it in and the process is long,” he continued. “An automated process would speed things along.”

This demands that the CMO and the CIO work more closely than ever before. “My CIO is my best friend,” laughed Bornstein, who has built an in-house technology team that develops but also works with agencies and tech vendors.

Finally, consumers now expect a borderless world online, and thid will require a mind-shift among location-focused retailers. “Businesses aren't set up that way, but this is where we need to go,” Bornstein said.


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