Hands Off: the future of beauty retail and product sampling is already here

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (stefanamer)
© Getty Images \ (stefanamer)

Related tags beauty tech retail coronavirus safety consumer behavior

As the world watches and waits for the Coronavirus recovery to begin, tech makers, beauty retailers, and multinationals are innovating contactless sampling and selling strategies.

In recent years, as ecommerce has gained momentum, one of the key advantages that brick-and-mortar retail has offered is product sampling—the opportunity to touch and feel and smell and try a product has helped differentiate conventional retail from online platforms.

Now with the Coronavirus pandemic making consumers more wary of touch, contactless sampling, touchless consultations, and virtual try-on tools are a defining difference in the beauty retail sector.

Sanitary sampling with Vengo vending technology

Late last week the marketing tech solutions company Vengo launched what it’s calling an “end-to-end contactless sampling solution for a post-COVID-19 world.”

The company, launched in 2012 and based in New York, is well known for its product vending and sampling kiosks that let consumers engage with touch-screen digital content, and either purchase product or get a sample on the spot. The Vengo machines also gather data on consumer behavior, making the interface more than a simple marketing tool for businesses and brands.

Vengo’s latest sample-dispensing tech makes it possible for consumers to interact with the machine’s on-screen digital content not by touching the machine but rather by using their own phone.

“Given the current COVID-19 guidelines, we know that now is the time for contactless solutions to meet the needs of today’s consumers,”​ Brian Shimmerlik, CEO of Vengo Labs, tells the press. “We are excited,” ​he says, “to enable smart sampling solutions that brands can stand behind and consumers can access without concern for their health.”

Credo Beauty employees busy selling while stores are closed thanks to Hero platform

The team at Credo Beauty is using an omnichannel retail app from Hero to stay connected with would-be in-store consumers. “It has been a replacement for a store experience on our site in a way we never thought we could tap into,”​ Credo CEO Dawn Dobras tells Julie Knudson of the National Retail Foundation, in a recent article profiling Credo’s response to the Coronavirus crisis​.

During the virus crisis, the clean beauty retailer has kept its in-store associates working and connected with it’s CredoLive online interface (built with Hero). “CredoLive allowed the brand to immediately migrate customer interactions from stores into virtual channels,” ​writes Knudson. “The shift offers valuable insight into the way beauty — where customers typically want to see, and often try, products before buying — can make inroads even when conventional sales engagements aren’t available.”

Avon updates its digital catalog to make social selling more interactive

The social-sales beauty company first took its popular catalog digital in 2018.​ Nearly 2 years later, on April 30, Avon launched an updated digital brochure. And according to the company’s media release, the paper version is being phased out: “The goal is to have the brochure be exclusively digital in the next few years.”

Avon’s new digital brochure, is according to the release, fully interactive.

“The browsing and buying experience will be optimized for desktop and mobile with shoppable posts, video makeup tutorials, influencer-created content, interviews with product creators, video reviews, animations and more,” ​explains Avon’s media release.

“Cutting-edge AR makeup will also be a key feature with functions such as Virtual Try-On, Foundation Shade Finder and Concealer Shade Finder. This will allow customers to virtually try on makeup shades before buying and discover their shade matches.”

And while Avon positions the brochure’s digital update as part of the company’s environmental sustainability strategy, it will likely help the company through the Coronavirus recovery as well.

This item on single-use packaging for in-store beauty product samples​, also published on CosmeticsDesign.com, may be of interest. 



Deanna Utroske identifies beauty industry trends early.​ As Editor of CosmeticsDesign.com, she writes daily news about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders. Click here to find out what else is changing in the world of beauty because of COVID-19.

Related news

Show more

Follow us


View more



Beauty 4.0 Podcast