Sephora is Betting that Social Commerce will Catch on in the US


Quartz | June 1, 2021


Last June, Sephora took a big step on Instagram debuting its Instagram shop. The 20 million follower count could now find and buy its beauty products directly through the social app. What it has learned in almost a year since speaks to both the challenges and potential for social commerce in the US. “Every indication is that it’s going to be big,” said Carolyn Bojanowski, Sephora’s general manager of e-commerce.


In China the social-commerce market is well-established and forecast to exceed $300 billion in annual sales soon. Slow to catch on in the US, it is predicted to reach $36 billion this year across all social platforms. One explanation is that US internet users still think of scrolling through social media and shopping for products as unrelated activities. Sephora thinks the boundaries between the two are ready to come down.


In addition to its Instagram store, Sephora has also leaned into livestreaming, partnering with Facebook. Last year in the US, the share of beauty products sold online roughly doubled, reaching nearly half of all sales, said Larissa Jensen, beauty industry analyst at NPD Group.


Bojanowski said social shopping is “one of those things that we know is coming, and we want to we want to be a pioneer there and be ready for that consumer... it’s such a big piece of just the whole consumer experience.”


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