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Sephora Steps Up to Compete With Ulta, Target, Amazon

Prestige beauty retailer Sephora is offering a new service that caters to those who hate to leave the house.

As the retail world increases emphasis on customer convenience via online ordering, self pickup, curbside delivery, and faster shipping, the beauty world has begun to follow suit as well.

Amazon  (AMZN) - Get Free Report set a standard when it debuted Prime shipping back in 2005, making the delivery of everything from a spiffy new dress to that annoyingly heavy sack of cat litter a reality within a mere 48 hours. 

And since then, Amazon's added one-day and same-day options, leaning into obvious consumer hunger for faster, preferably instant, gratification.

Beauty mavens suddenly found themselves able to access a solid collection of cult favorites via Amazon's Premium Beauty offerings as well. From flagship brands like Clarins to cult favorites like Too Faced and Sunday Riley, getting up and going to your local Ulta  (ULTA) - Get Free Report or Sephora  (LVMHF)  just no longer seemed as necessary.

Some retailers chose to stake a claim in the space by putting luxury beauty products and services alongside things everyone needs, rather than reserving those items for stores limited to prestige beauty. 

That's why many Target  (TGT) - Get Free Report locations now feature a boutique area for everything from skincare to makeup (thanks to its partnership with Ulta) and are even adding nifty little robots to do your nails in 10 minutes or less

Kohl's  (KSS) - Get Free Report, Macy's  (M) - Get Free Report, and J.C. Penney  (JCP) - Get Free Report are also following this formula, but with in-house exclusive beauty lines, partnerships with influencers, and more.

Now Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton brand Sephora is trying something new to drum up customer interest, and for those that shop there frequently, it could be a game changer.

Like Prime but for Premium Beauty

Sephora will now offer a subscription service for $49 a year that grants unlimited same-day shipping to customers and can deliver in as little as two hours, Women's World Daily reports in an exclusive feature (subscription).

The new service has no minimum for orders and offers a free 30-day trial. Signups also earn Beauty Insider members (Sephora's loyalty program) 49 points.

Previously Sephora offered same-day delivery in partnership with Uber  (UBER) - Get Free Report, Doordash  (DASH) - Get Free Report, and Target's Shipt in select markets. The service is still available at $6.95 per order for customers who've signed up for Beauty Insider.

Sephora, like many retailers, clearly learned a lesson from the pandemic: Even if people can go out and safely shop, many would rather just have what they need delivered. 

Retail Dive reports that Sephora conducted a study in June 2022 and learned that nearly two-thirds (63%) of shoppers would make use of a same-day-delivery option if they ran out of a product and needed a replacement quickly.

Previously partnered with JCPenney since 2009 with locations inside its stores, Sephora wrapped up that alliance and launched a new one with Kohl's in 2021. 

It can currently be found in more than 600 Kohl's locations, with plans to expand to another 250 locations in 2023.

While every business seems to be peddling a subscription service these days, Sephora's means never having to go to the mall for a new mascara or eyeliner again, not to mention getting it delivered same day. That's an appealing option, especially for its longtime regulars.