Cosmetics brands in China are experimenting with different retail formats and using the latest high-tech gizmos to merge on and offline shopping experiences.

According to Jing Daily, “phygital” – a blend of the best of physical stores with the convenience of digital – is just the latest way brands are seeking to wow shoppers in the ferociously competitive Chinese beauty market.

The most recent example is a month-long pop-up store in Shanghai, launched by high-end skincare brand SK-II, which allows customers to wave electronic bracelets to buy products ranging in price from a $105 carton of Miracle Masks, to a $160 Radiance Regimen.

The Japanese brand’s shop, dubbed “Future X Smart Store”, also uses the latest facial recognition and AI to entertain – and persuade – customers.

It’s all based on a similar, successful project launched in Tokyo in May. Consumers see a large digital wall, named The Art of You, when they enter the store, and are encouraged to create their own art piece by posing in front of it.

They can also have their skin analysed, with the results displayed on a “skincare wall”, which then, naturally, suggests a range of appropriate SK-II products the shopper should use.

SK-II teamed up with leading Chinese e-tailer to design the electronic shopping bracelet, which identifies each wearer and links them to their account when they enter the store. The bracelet allows consumers to place an order in-store simply by waving their wrists at a scanner.

Similar to the SK-II pop-up is a concept store by French beauty chain Sephora, also launched in Shanghai. Sephora teamed with Meitu – the company behind China’s hugely popular photo-editing and selfie-enhancing app – to create interactive e-commerce screens and virtual make-up artists.

Crucial to the concept behind both stores is the idea of blending offline and online consumer experiences in the same way as shoppers increasingly do. Both brands have used the stores online to promote their products, and both have also deployed social media influencers to promote the stores. SK-II alone has had more than 65 influencers post about its store since it opened.

Emil Lanne, Executive Creative Director from Huge, the agency that designed the SK-II stores in Shanghai and Tokyo, told Jing Daily the intention of the Chinese store was to “have more colours and beautiful settings to empower Chinese consumers to take photos and selfies, meanwhile, give them a quicker experience”.

Sourced from Jing Daily; additional content by WARC staff