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New report tracks the rise of AI in beauty ecommerce

Estée Lauder|

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in ecommerce is common. It is used across different applications from supply chain to merchandising. Where it is in more noticeable view to customers is in the use of augmented reality virtual try-on and skin analysis tools within the beauty and cosmetic sector, a new report has highlighted.

The RetailX Global Beauty and Cosmetic 2023 report has tracked the rise in AI within the personal care industry. It found that augmented reality innovation has become entrenched in the industry and consumers are used to visiting a website, mobile app or bricks-and-mortar store to receive personalised recommendations for skincare products.

Skincare analysis tools use a mixture of user answered questions, images – from the shopper’s webcam or mobile phone camera – and artificial intelligence to analyse areas of skin, identify skin type and the skincare ingredients that are best suited to alleviating any concerns the customer has. Tools such as these help personalise the experience for customers, increasing surety over the items they are buying as well as increasing engagement and reducing products returns.

Marianna Naturals has seen dwell time on its site increase by 300% and sales growth of 30% since launching an AI skin analyser. In a different move, The Estée Lauder Companies has developed an application that uses AI and augmented reality to give greater independence to visually impaired customers when applying colour cosmetics. Once makeup has been applied, the app analyses the user’s face checking that everything has been applied correctly and evenly. Advice is given audibly with the app describing areas where lipstick, eyeshadow or foundation needs touching up.

The company’s Estée Lauder brand was the first to introduce the Voice-Enabled Makeup Assistant (VMA) in a mobile app and on its website in the UK. Other brands will roll out the technology in due course.

“The launch of our Voice-Enabled Makeup Assistant is an important step in our journey towards makeup accessibility for all by removing barriers to engaging with beauty products and services,” says Monica Rastogi, executive director, corporate cultural relevancy and inclusion and diversity, The Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland.

While AI helps retail sites make personalised recommendations from a range of mass produced products that are available for sale, other brands are taking the concept further with on-demand manufacturing. Perfect Corp, which is known for its AR and AI technology online, has partnered in an offline analysis tool to be used with a personalised, on-demand skincare service.

Precision Skin takes into account the user’s preferred product texture, key skin concerns and lifestyle habits as well as the AI analysis before providing a detailed report on a customer’s major skin concerns, including moisture, pores, acne, spots, firmness, radiance, dark circles, droopy lower eyelids, wrinkles, texture, oiliness, redness and eyebags.

The AI analysis also provides the customer with an overall score for skin health. From these, the Precision Skin team can provide a bespoke skincare formula for the customer. “Personalisation is the future of skincare,” believes Alice Change, founder and CEO of Perfect Corp.

“With the power of AI technology, skincare customers can have bespoke product formulations created for them, with active ingredients that better address their unique skin concerns.”

Amorepacific’s Cosmechip combines software and hardware to give one-to-one skincare solutions that are personalised and manufactured as required at home. The home appliance – which won an innovation award at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show – uses active ingredients and water to create the correct textured product with the best formula for the user’s skin condition at the current time.

Chat GPT
Where artificial intelligence has gained traction in 2023 is through applications using ChatGPT. The generative AI can be integrated into websites and mobile apps to understand and answer complex or nuanced consumer questions in real time using a mixture of knowledge about the brand and its product catalogue and information about beauty & cosmetics in general.

What’s more, ChatGPT does this using natural language so consumers can ask questions in a natural way and receive responses in the same manner. This is regardless of the language used since ChatGPT can also be used for language translation. The advantage of these integrations by beauty & cosmetics companies is in ChatGPT’s 24/7 availability so an assistant or beauty advisor can be available at any time to help with customer service questions, such as delivery times as well as guiding a customer through the shopping journey.

Generative AI’s capabilities make it seem as if the customer is communicating with a knowledgeable beauty expert in-store or via a live link. Also, ChatGPT can take the personalised recommendations of existing AI-powered applications to a deeper level. Once items have been recommended, customers can ask questions about specific products, seek advice on skincare routines or get tips on techniques to apply the recommended colour cosmetics. All applications that create deeper engagement and increase the likelihood of the shopper making a purchase.

As an example, video-based beauty community and fan review site Supergreat has incorporated ChatGPT into its site inviting consumers to “ask me anything about beauty + skincare.” Get Ready With Me, or as Supergreat calls the chatbot on its site, will recommend products and serve relevant videos based on what question it is asked.

One concern that has been mentioned about ChatGPT is around security of its responses and like someone who always wants to help regardless of the depth of their knowledge it has yet to learn to say “I don’t know”. Because of this, any application incorporating the AI has to set its own guardrails and limitations to keep responses within the same boundaries and tone of voice that the brand would use.

This feature was authored by Emma Herrod, and originally appeared in the RetailX Global Beauty and Cosmetic 2023 report. Download it in full to discover:

  • The rise and fall of celebrity and brands
  • How personalised products continues to alter and expand
  • Exclusive case studies on Amorepacific, Charlotte Tilbury, Douglas, L’Oréal and Sephora

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