L’Oreal partnered up with Alibaba to bring “New Retail” ideas to traditional products. Source: Shutterstock

China gets ‘New Retail’, brought by Alibaba and L’Oreal

COSMETICS COMPANY L’OREAL has introduced “New Retail” concepts into its customer journey experience in collaboration with Alibaba’s Tmall.com in conjunction with the e-commerce giant’s 11.11 Global Shopping Festival.

“New Retail”, a term coined by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, is being called “an innovative business model” that is bridging the gap between online and offline experience into a single, interactive flow. It’s largely based off in-store shopping experiences, with a technological twist.

L’Oreal will be upgrading the shopping experience with various technologies that will bring customers into the future, as reported by Alibaba newsroom, Alizila. This includes various forms of video, robotics and gamification business models. The new tech is currently being rolled out across mainland China in six pop-up “Smart Stores” in urban locations.

Really key to many New Retail modes is the use of augmented reality technology. By blending present reality with a digital one, L’Oreal is allowing its customers experience their products and possibilities in a whole new way.

L’Oreal is bringing new, innovative features to enhance users’ shopping experience. Source: Alizila

Take for instance an augmented reality-mediated fashion show that transports customers straight to the elegant avenues of Paris’s Champ-Élysées. The app-based experience was rolled out in early October and offered Tmall users the opportunity to “participate” in a fashion show that featured international celebrities such as Jane Fonda, Helen Mirren and Chris Lee.

The live broadcast was streamed on Tmall’s platform, while mobile users could navigate a 360-degree recording of the event on their smartphones.

“Thanks to e-commerce and Alibaba technology, we can literally bring Paris to the Chinese consumers,” CEO of L’Oreal’s China branch Stéphane Rinderknech said in a statement.

The store also brought an element of entertainment for customers through an augmented reality game called “Catch the Cat”, wherein Taobao and Tmall shoppers can search the real world for Tmall’s black cat mascot through the lens of their phone. The model, which is reminiscent of the wildly popular Pokemon GO game, serves to show how brands can gamify the user experience to make it more memorable, and actively engage users in their surroundings in a whole new way.

L’Oreal is, of course, a brand that is closely associated with facial looks, which is why they’ve also introduced new forms of augmented reality into their “Magic Mirrors”. Alibaba supplied the company with an interactive device that can be found in stores in Shanghai, Wuhan and Changsha, as well as several other pop-ups. The new tech uses augmented reality to let visitors “try on” makeup by selecting hues and make-up types from the on-screen menu.

The mirror will simulate the customers’ appearance with a specific lipstick or blush, and help customers make better-informed choices without having to sacrifice their skin to a shared tester.

Aside from the various augmented reality features, L’Oreal Tmall customers can get alerts from the app for information about the nearest counter, as well as options to meet with a make-up artist for one-on-one beauty sessions. Certain stores also come equipped with vending machines that allow customers to skirt interactions with a beauty adviser.