Sephora gets some major nerd cred

I don’t always love what Sephora does, but I have to hand it to them. In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed some majorly awesome nerdy stuff they’ve done.

  • Passbook win! They were the very first store or service to successfully implement Passbook support with iOS 6, notify me about it clearly, and make it simple to integrate. Even Starbucks’s effort was behind Sephora’s in this regard. (To date, these are my only two Passbook items.) The extra bonus is that I no longer have to explain to Sephora reps how to look up my complicated email domain in their system!
  • Shopping by reviews. Seriously, guys, this one’s important for a couple reasons. I blathered about it here, but in a nutshell it allows customers to shop based entirely on the feedback of other users, with ZERO marketing input from Sephora. Seriously. Right now, it doesn’t even have a single image on the page view! And check out all that unused white space! I expect Sephora to tinker with this and probably ruin it in the coming weeks, so here’s my screencap for posterity:

Most online beauty presences aren’t into minimalism. This is definitely an anomaly even among Sephora’s other page views. Heck, I was badgered into adding as much noise as I have on this site because a professional beauty writer told me it looked boring and “needed more images”—and for her industry, I reluctantly admit she’s right. That’s why I find this so interesting. Amazon, for example, claims to be king of giving people data-based shopping, but they don’t allow one to simply search for things with a high review count until you’ve whittled down your results to a much narrower selection. If you trust the community of reviewers that a vendor has built, then being able to rely solely on them for shopping decisions is a stark contrast to most web storefront merchandising models.

So despite the fact that Sephora still uses Blogger for their professional company blog and that they create horrible Facebook-page-embedded auto-tweeting Flash-based clicky contests and that their “added item to basket” animation now takes a full fifteen seconds to trigger and their web text sometimes looks like this (right), they still win a pretty major tech award in my cold, geeky, stainless-steel-encased heart. Way to go, guys! Now let me search on active ingredient/ingredient category or on whether products have attractive and durable packaging  that makes a satisfying click noise upon closure, and I will love you even more. <3

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