Cosmetics chain Sephora is a leader of innovation in the beauty industry. The brand’s digitalized stores feature technologies such as the Fragrance IQ kiosk, where a computer guides customers to find the perfect perfume, and the Color IQ kiosk, where customers can discover the right foundation or lipstick for their skin tones with the help of a touch screen. Most of Sephora’s tech is implemented with the goal of acknowledging and rewarding its loyal consumers. In store, Sephora uses beacon technology that recognizes app users when they come through the door, and provides them with an in-store map, promotions and their online shopping cart and wish list. On its official website, Sephora runs “The Beauty Board”, a space where customers can post pictures of themselves with various makeup styles, tagging the products they used for that look. The company also runs Play!, a beauty products subscription box that is delivered monthly to subscribers’ home. Play! subscribers can also attend exclusive events where they can mingle with other Sephora fans, try out new products with the help of makeup specialists, and get free product samples. The winning idea: Sephora grows loyalty by making customers feel part of an in-group. This is done through technology that recognizes and rewards loyal customers, as well as with subscription boxes and exclusive events. The subscription economy has grown 3,000 percent in the last three years, Crimson Hexagon reports – Sephora uses it well as part of its strategy to create a crowd of happy, loyal customers. Although operating in different industries, the five retailers above have one thing in common: they constantly challenge themselves to find new ways to make the customer experience more exciting and inspiring. Creativity and speed are key in today’s retail world – but having a clear strategy when implementing innovative technology is, perhaps, the most important part of the equation. “Consumers are looking for retail stores to be creative spaces. They are looking for experiences. Digital is a critical element in retail — however, it is not just for the sake of adding new, cool technology,” says Bridget Dolan, VP and Head of the Sephora Innovation Lab. The success of these brands has a lot to do with their ability to understand the customer journey, and transform it – making it simpler, quicker, and more exciting – with the right tech.