Sephora’s subpar website launch is ‘giving empty shelves’

After all the hype and expectation of a ‘fully-immersive’ and ‘inspiring’ new site, the launch was met with some basic – but major – technical difficulties.

“The Sephora UK website is very much giving empty shelves,” posted one customer on Twitter last week.  

Sephora’s highly anticipated UK website launch was troubled with technical difficulties, blurry images and poor stock quantities, causing disappointment in eager shoppers.

The French beauty retailer returned to the UK on 17 October, opening a huge store in London and replacing the site Feel Unique was already an established e-commerce site for beauty, so Sephora UK’s limping launch is seen as a surprise. 

“It’s surprising to see these issues as they wouldn’t be the sort of mistakes that a brand like Sephora would be expected to make,” said Jim Hawker, Co-Founder and Sales and Marketing Director at brand performance agency, Threepipe. 

“Having a solid plan around usability testing, wrapped into a larger plan focused on technical SEO, is common practice when launching or migrating an e-commerce site. I can only assume that this was down to time pressures to get the site launched by a certain date, and unfortunately this left little time for best practice. These are of course issues that can be fixed and I am sure the UX or SEO teams will be given more resources to get the site to where it needs to be.”

Sarah Miles, UK General Manager for Sephora (and former CEO of Feelunique), told "Consumer engagement has been phenomenal, and on the first day maybe a little too phenomenal", seemingly pointing to too much traffic as the cause of items going out of stock and technical glitches on the site. 

The disappointment comes as shoppers were promised by the brand a new, “fully immersive” website that would act as an “inspiring gateway” to its products, yet it is too similar to the original Feelunique site.

Consumer trust is waning 

Unsatisfied users have reported receiving error codes, dead links, no delivery tracking, and even flicking between the new Sephora site and the old Feel Unique site.

One shopper told Retail Week it made the site feel untrustworthy and one that “doesn’t even protect your card transactions”. 

The retailer has also previously suffered a penalty fine of $1.2m under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) for not disclosing its third-party trackers to its users.