Body Shop and Sephora Try Vending Machines

Discussion
Mar 25, 2010

By Bernice Hurst, Contributing Editor, RetailWire

Anyone who has ever stopped to smell the roses may soon notice a different
aroma in some American grocery stores — and the Paris Metro (subway) for that
matter. Body Shop and Sephora have, separately, decided that vending machines
in places with heavy footfall are perfect locations for selling beauty products.

According
to Planet Retail, “Body Shop-branded ZoomShop machines will be located
at Kroger Marketplace, Ahold-owned Stop & Shop, H-E-B and SuperValu-owned
Jewel Osco, as well as at airports and shopping centres.” ZoomSystems CEO Gower
Smith described the arrangement as “a convenient and hassle-free new channel
to shop for the fantastic products offered by The Body Shop.”

Al Montalvo, director
of new sales and emerging channels for The Body Shop pointed
out that “more than ever, customers today want to access products on their
own terms when and where they want to. For The Body Shop it is an opportunity
to meet their expectations in an innovative way.”

The Parisian experience, described
in Springwise, featured limited edition pocket-sized, 15 ml containers
of Calvin Klein’s CK One. Only available from February 7 to 20, the vending
machines were installed by retailer, Sephora, in just four stations. Springwise dubs
those who tested the concept as “trysumers” and considered that it was an approach
far more likely to generate interest and trials than traditional ads.

Website Cyanatrendland reports that Sephora’s vending machines have
been spotted in airports as widely dispersed as Nashville, Las Vegas, Indianapolis,
Dallas, New York and Houston but agrees that Paris’s otherwise less than aromatic
metro is an excellent location for CK One.

Discussion Questions: What do you think of retailers selling beauty products from vending machines? What locations make the most sense for these units?

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16 Comments on "Body Shop and Sephora Try Vending Machines"


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Ryan Mathews
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

I guess it all depends on the cost. I’ve often passed those kiosks selling everything from toothpaste to iPods and wondered who the target market was.

At the same time, mall -based retailers need to figure out new channels for their products as some malls continue to lose foot traffic.

The bottom line–we need more data but it never hurts to innovate especially when the price is right.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 1 month ago

A well situated machine that looks nothing like the wood paneled coffee machine of the ’70s could do very well for brands like CK or Body Shop. I’m thinking the airport could be a haven for vending machines like this. Put them right up at the jet way or lounge with some flat panel screens around it and you are good to go. I’ve heard some interesting stories about what you can purchase at vending machines in Japan, so fragrance and body care is not such a crazy idea.

Anne Howe
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

This is a fantastic opportunity for The Body Shop to expand its reach to shoppers. Being a fan of super convenient shopping as well as their products, I’m all for it. Can’t wait to see them in Kroger. I’ll be a customer to see both how it works, and to enjoy some new products. I wonder if they’ll offer some travel sizes. THAT would be a bonus.

Marge Laney
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

Great idea! I can get an ipod in a vending machine, why not my favorite perfume or lotion that I may have forgotten or run out of? Vending small air travel friendly versions can save a lot of hassle especially when the larger versions have been confiscated by airport security or forgotten at home. Also, the vending machines offer an easy way to try a new fragrance without navigating the sea of cosmetic sales people at the department stores.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

As long as the machines are kept well-stocked, I think it’s a great idea.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

We’ve been following Zoom Systems for quite some time. It only makes sense that Zoom would expand the types of products that are stocked in its machines; the bigger story is that they are moving into branded machines. In effect, Zoom is creating yet another own-branded alternative channel in which brands can control presentation, track sales and have presence in otherwise impractical locations.

Ben Ball
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

There is great temptation, and some rationale, to think that consumers around the world will follow the Asian (mainly Japanese for now) lead in buying from automated vendors. To date, the US consumer has shown some appetite. But it is more limited by the categories offered in the vendors than the locations.

Early speculation that price would be the barrier has proven only half true. Consumers comfortable with buying an iPod without assistance are just as happy to give their $50 for a 2GB Nano to a vending machine as they are to Wal-Mart. The real barrier seems to be “high touch” categories. Beauty is a bit of a conundrum in that regard. It is “high touch” for the first purchase of any new item–but after the relationship with a brand is established, it becomes a maintenance purchase. Tough to call how it will do in the world of stainless steel sales associates.

Kevin Graff
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

Like everything else, execution will be the key. I’ve passed too many vending machines selling ‘cool’ electronics in airports that were poorly stocked. My belief extends to the requirement to add an element of interactive digital media to the kiosk so that customers can learn more about some of the products for sale. Keep it in stock, and make it interactive, and you’ve got a winning idea.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
11 years 1 month ago

This may generate some new consumers for Bath & Body. Many people do not go to the mall at all. Of the people who do, not all stop in Bath & Body. However, the stores trying the kiosks are frequented by many of those people. If there is an easy way to try a new product with the kiosk, then some new people may try the product. There may a decrease in store sales for some of the normally carried products but that is true any time a new brand comes to the shelves. Seems like an experiment worth trying.

Mark Johnson
Guest
Mark Johnson
11 years 1 month ago

Cost and placement will be a consideration. I would place them between the Coinstar machine and the Redbox. Then you can take your change, get a gift card for dinner, purchase some perfume with the remaining $$$, and a movie for after. Strategic placement

Toni Rahlf
Guest
Toni Rahlf
11 years 1 month ago

What’s most interesting to me is the idea that somewhat up-market brands would put their products in a down-market(ish) channel. Are vending machines perceived as more consistent and trustworthy these days? Most people get irritated when their 1.75 bag of chips doesn’t dispense properly, but they can walk away from that. What happens when their $50 cologne gets stuck in the machine?

Ciri Raynor Fenzel
Guest
Ciri Raynor Fenzel
11 years 1 month ago

ProActive has had success selling from machines in malls throughout the country for a few years now, so actually it is surprising that other health & beauty vendors are just investing in the idea. And, speaking of investment, the very fact that it is a machine makes it a far safer bet for brands. If it doesn’t work in one location, it can simply be moved to an alternative site with minimal if any loss to the bottom line; far cheaper than rebuilding a brick and mortar location. I believe it is a great opportunity for brands to try out new venues and test the waters with new customers all the while with complete control over the brand presence.

Joel Warady
Guest
Joel Warady
11 years 1 month ago

We have started to see these HBA vending machines pop up in airports, including the ProActive Acne medication machine in Las Vegas’ airport. From a branding standpoint, I think it is great exposure, and a great way to offer the product in a non-traditional channel. But I have yet to ever see anyone purchase from these machines, so it is hard to say how successful they really are.

In essence, you are having to retrain the consumer how to feel comfortable buying these products from vending machines, knowing that if they are unhappy with the purchase, the products are not returnable. (At least not easily). I think this change in consumer habits is a difficult one. That being said, it has worked with DVDs, so why not cosmetics and HBA?

It will be an interesting trend to watch.

Pamela Mathews
Guest
Pamela Mathews
11 years 1 month ago

Love the concept, definitely for impulse purchases in airports and the like. Particularly appealing if one wishes to not be accosted by over aggressive sales associates. However, unless there is some way to sample the scents, it’s unlikely to attract first-time buyers but rather is geared more towards repeat buyers.

Doug Stephens
Guest
Doug Stephens
11 years 1 month ago

Innovating new channels to market is a good thing, however, there’s a pretty significant catch with a concept like this. History has proved that it’s difficult for brands to be both highly accessible and highly exclusive at the same time. We witnessed firsthand what happened to Starbucks when they took what was a high-fidelity brand experience and tried to replicate it in every airport and grocery store.

I’m not saying that this necessarily applies to CK or Body Shop. I don’t view either as being exclusive but there are other brands, like Apple, that I think might be well advised to exercise caution.

These new channels to market will look awfully tempting to a lot of brands who are desperate for any growth they can get. For some however, becoming ubiquitous could spell disaster.

Mark Simpson
Guest
Mark Simpson
11 years 1 month ago

Believe me, this is happening, and it’s happening fast! We are a UK-based manufacturer of automated retail equipment and, over more recent years, we have been called upon to produce more and more specialist machines for specialist products. Vending is not about tea, coffee and chocolate bars any more – it’s starting to become a true alternative to traditional retail.

Sure, customer acceptance has been the issue for some time in Europe, particularly when compared to North America or the Far East, but believe me folks, it’s coming and it’s coming fast!

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