Effective Integration of Digital in Retail Space: Does it Sell?

Effective Integration of Digital in Retail Space: Does it Sell?

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Digital in retail space lets customers engage with the brand though its various expressions. But does it sell?

In January, the cosmetics brand M.A.C. made a lot of noise with a series of interactive retail experience centres which followed hot on the heels of a newly minted product IP collaboration with Honor of Kings (王者荣耀), one of China’s most popular mobile games.

The MADJOR team took a look at the installations and got some hands-on experience with what Campaign Asia reports as being the fruits of “six months of research” to craft an experience that would meet the needs of Chinese Post-90s.

The Middle Huai Hai Lu Interactive Store

The store is flanked on both sides with a series of digital displays showcasing content from popular fashion social network x eCommerce app 小红书. A centerpiece display hosts the new 王者荣耀 avatar-inspired collection. This is a great way to map social to the offline space – users can check reviews, editorial and product application tips then try the products in person.

Progressing through the store, the visitor encounters several product trial stations. Two such stations feature digital trialing screens with modest facial recognition capabilities. To the far left, there is also an interactive table. Fundamental to these experiences is a smooth conversion journey via the brand’s WeChat Mini Program storefront.

The interactive table can be used to mix and match blusher products according to the user’s preferences. Simply select a colour and drag it to the palette. Upon scanning the Mini Program QR code, the product is populated to the user’s session basket for checkout.


The trial station to the far left of the store (facing in) effectively rendered the user’s face, and projected makeup effects, hair styles and light adjustments to the interface. The user simply faces the screen and runs through a variety of product attributes (e.g. lipstick colour, texture, and fun hair style modification effects). Once done, the user can take a selfie and scan a MP QR to complete purchase.

The second installation, to the right side of the store, offered a similar experience. The facial recognition and product preview effects, however, were not as sharp. A display camera actually adjusted to follow the user’s movements, mapping to whichever face entered into the closest proximity. Another slight issue with this second experience was that the user was left with a selfie and product preview recap, but wasn’t able to complete the purchase journey via mobile. The QR was only there to enable photo extraction from the FTP server.


The Kerry Centre Activation

A pop-up activation was also executed as part of the promotions for both the IP partnership and new store launches.

A simple black exterior housed a series of activities across five zones. Visitors were encouraged to work through each, collecting stamps along the way in order to receive free gifts. Live event programming included a cosplay day (targeting the gaming community), makeup demo days and an e-sports competition.

Digital highlights included a 3D photo avatar installation where users could pose with their weapon of choice to appear as an in-game avatar (specifically, avatars associated with the feature products). There was also a motion-sensing game where basic gestures were used to collect and shoot coloured lips.


Given the context – a brand that appeals to a young demographic of cosmetics buyers x strategic alignment with gaming - the various activities and experiences make sense as standalone brand activation initiatives. The in-store experience was rounded-off with a clear, smooth purchase journey enabled by the brand’s WeChat Mini Program store. A complete conversion journey should be a key criterion for any successful activation.

Beyond brand activation, we could say this provides a very tangible view into the future of retail experiences, following the lines of other forward-thinking brands such as Sephora, which has experimented with similar digital boutique concepts. Indeed, experience is what you get in these stores – an opportunity to play and engage with the brand though its various digital expressions.

Given a visitor can physically try a product and purchase it without a digital screen, the pain points being addressed relate to wanting to trial an out-of-stock product, or perhaps enabling a greater variety of trialing without the hassle from physically applying various products. A collection of photos of course allows for convenient comparison. If such devices alleviate queuing, increase dwell time and drive purchase volume per square foot of retail space, there could be an argument that such approaches go beyond mere activation. Does it sell? This remains to be seen.