Beneath the Surface

Skin analysis machines can improve sales, customer satisfaction and loyalty—all while making your store a must-visit destination.

Today’s consumers are accustomed to the highest level of customization in their everyday lives, from personalized iPod playlists to build-your-own sandwich shops. They’re also fully enveloped in the wonders of technology and unlimited information access. For the beauty retailer, this means specific recommendations for each customer’s unique skin concerns can make all the difference when a customer is weighing whether to visit your store.

Enter the power of skin analysis machines. Though not a brand-new technology, these machines are finding their way into an increasing number of beauty stores, and no wonder—they can boost sales and make a marked difference in your customers’ skincare regimens and results. We spoke to Jim Larkey, director of product management and marketing at Canfield Scientific—a provider of imaging systems and services, including skin analysis machines; specifically the VISIA, Reveal and DermScope machines—based in Fairfield, New Jersey, to learn about the machines’ benefits and challenges, and how beauty retailers can use them in their own stores to transform their businesses.

BSB: How would a beauty retailer begin using skin analysis machines?

LARKEY: A retailer gets involved with a skin analysis or skin-diagnostic system usually in conjunction with a brand. A skincare brand is usually the driver for an analysis tool to supplement the skincare consultation process, to make consultation more effective and educational, and to bring more tools to the salesperson. Usually, it’s not the brick-and-mortar retailer who’s looking for tools that would be used across multiple brands. The product recommendations are connected to a particular brand so that the consultant doesn’t need to know about each brand, and so that there’s not a dizzying array of products that can help, but [just] two or three to address a particular skin problem. Some of our systems have a product-recommendation library where the relevant products canbe displayed in front of the customer.

Recently, however, we’ve been working with stores that have purchased the systems to share across a number of brands—that’s a newer trend. Lately, stores have been using these for cross-brand purchases.

What are some of the types of machines available?

There are a range of tools—such as the VISIA system, which has been on the market since 2003—with refreshed software year after year.There are also some smaller-footprint, even mobile, skincare [analysis] devices, ranging from an intermediate product called Reveal Imager—a smaller-footprint device, to DermScope, which is entirely mobile and marries up with the iPhone 4 for a skincare consultation. DermScope is $900, Reveal is about $6,000 and VISIA starts at $14,000. So there are a range of prices as well as types of solutions for retailers.

[Image: Courtesy of Canfield Scientific]