- L'Oréal is bringing its artificial intelligence (AI) technology to Amazon, which for the first time will give its mobile shoppers a chance to virtually try on makeup before buying. ModiFace, the developer of technology for the beauty industry that L'Oréal acquired last year, is providing digital demonstrations of lipstick shades using augmented reality (AR), according to a company announcement.
- Amazon's shoppers in the U.S. and Japan will be able to use their smartphone's front-facing camera to digitally sample thousands of lipstick shades in a live video or on a selfie. ModiFace's simulation of makeup shades is done automatically, based on an AI-powered analysis of information provided by beauty brands and images of the product on social media, per the announcement.
- Amazon customers also can save their photos on their mobile devices to share with friends before making a direct purchase, Nicolas Le Bourgeois, head of Amazon Beauty, said in a statement. ModiFace's technology runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS), the e-commerce company's cloud computing platform.
While AR try-ons have been gaining steam as a key part of marketing beauty products, the technology's arrival on Amazon has the potential to bring AR trials to a significantly wider audience than previous deployments to date.
With more consumers shopping online and via their phones, AR sampling has been adopted by a number of product manufacturers as a way to help shoppers feel more confident about their purchases. Direct-to-consumer hair color brand Madison Reed and Jerome Russell brand Punky Colour last year partnered with Perfect Corp. to show off their products to mobile users using AR trials. Perfect has also worked with Juicy Couture, Estée Lauder, Lancôme Paris, Maybelline and Flying Solo, among others, on AR beauty tools to enhance both in-store and at-home experimentation.
By bringing its AR makeup try-ons to Amazon, L'Oréal is making another big step to close the gap between demonstrating its products to mobile customers and letting them make direct purchases from the world's biggest e-commerce company. Virtual demonstrations of lipsticks likely will be the first step toward adding more products, such as eye shadow and full-color looks, to Amazon, L'Oréal's Chief Digital Officer Lubomira Rochet told WWD.
Amazon has sought to boost sales of beauty products, taking aim at brick-and-mortar rivals like Sephora and Ulta Beauty for a slice of the $56 billion industry. An A.T. Kearney study titled "Beauty and the E-Commerce Beast" found that 69% of online beauty customers searched for and bought beauty or personal care products on Amazon in the prior year, while only 41% reported the same for Sephora and 37% for Ulta. Amazon expanded Find, its private-label brand that debuted in the U.K., to include beauty products and compete with major brands.
Bringing ModiFace's technology to Amazon is another sign of the company's importance to L'Oréal. By acquiring ModiFace, L'Oréal scooped up the go-to solution for major cosmetics brands and catapulted itself to the head of the pack of those using AR in beauty. "The acquisition of ModiFace in the first half is also a major milestone in transformation of L'Oréal into a digitally augmented beauty company," said chairman and CEO Jean-Paul Agon on the company's Q2 2018 earnings call.