Sephora is international cosmetic products retail store that has its roots in France that was started as a perfume store in 1993. Sephora has experienced rapid growth in the past decade in terms of the number of retail outlets it has on the back of innovative marketing practices that are unique and original.
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Identify marketing services components of the situation
With regards to the marketing services components at Sephora, the firm has faced various gaps that are discussed as follows:
Gaps1: The Listening Gap
The fact that Sephora has innovative design layouts and the fact that products are arranged alphabetically for the ease of their consumers, the company has done no research to prove that these indeed are the needs of today’s cosmetic products buyers.
Evidence can be drawn from some of the comments to the case study on Sephora, where customers and employees alike are not very happy with the concepts being followed at Sephora. This indicates that while fancy layouts and housing a plethora of brands might be a perceived requirement of their consumers, Sephora really is trying to put its ideals of retailing into good use without paying any heed to what the actual consumers want.
Therefore they really don’t know what is going inside the polished consumer’s head, someone who has tried all the brands and is comfortable and wants to buy only one. Therefore for the experienced cosmetics shopper who just wants to fetch a particular lipstick or nail color, the arrangement and accessibility are of no use as they can merely ask for the required product at the counter. Moreover, ladies want the opinion of others when they are buying make-up to gauge how they look to others rather than to themselves. In that, they require the need of salespersons who are available at normal stores at the drop of a hat.
Additionally, many women shoppers who are there to buy make-up or toiletries for themselves have a special bond with a particular salesperson, whom they look up to for fashion advice and the latest trends. Also because the women would like to know how to use some of the new offerings, or how to best use a product to highlight some of their facial features, they want the salesperson who is regular for them to be around.
With regards to upward communication, as one ex-employee put it, the company has not been having much upward communication and that is why its lowest level employees are being taxed for something that they did not have any control over -absence because of the hurricane. This indicates a lack of understanding by the higher management regarding the conditions of all its employees and this is where the gap burgeons still.
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They also have insufficient relationship focus as Sephora doesn’t have salespeople that customers can feel a bonding with, and come over because of. Each customer, even if regular has an impersonal experience of shopping with no one knowing the difference between a regular and a new customer.
Gaps 2: The Service Design and Standards Gap
With regards to the service and design standards gap, there indeed is a mismatch between what the customers driven standards are and what the company has on offer. While there is no gap where the service design is carefully thought out and balanced, there indeed exists a gap where the opinions of the customers are not taken into account. How can they be, given that shopping at Sephora is an impersonal experience in the minimal amount of human contact?
Gaps 3: The Service Performance Gap
While there exist a minimal number of salespeople called ‘cast members’ the focus is on providing free makeovers and theatrics by the sales staff that are there to create drama and this is not what experienced shoppers appreciate. While there are no seemingly big issues with the HR policies and the channel members there indeed are problems where the store runs out of stock, as mentioned by two customers in the opinions to the article. Therefore there is a supply/demand gap as Sephora is trying to house as many brands as it can without stocking on the various extensions of the products and the hues that are so important in the make-up industry.
Gaps 4: The Communication Gap
There seem to be no communication gaps between departments, there is a mismatch between what the store promises and what it delivers. While it does focus on giving consumers the best possible shopping experience with freedom, they are not even taking the customer’s views into account.
The situation, insofar as the layout and design are concerned has been well-handled, but in the times to come, Sephora must be careful to take into account what the customers actually want in a cosmetic store. The fact that it is a novel concept and the attractive store interiors bring in customers, the speed of expansion might give a wrong signal of the company’s success. This is because people might be going to the store for the novelty and uniqueness of the shopping experience, and once this wears off, Sephora could be in trouble to gain traffic back to its stores.