Beneath the Surface, p.5

What types of products might be sold with these machines?

It’s a great tool to sell a full range of skincare products, from sunscreens to moisturizers to products that protect or repair skin; and a great tool to help sell a variety of skincare accessories—allowing for cross-sell or upsell opportunities. The customer maycome in looking for one type of product and after a consultation realize that she has more opportunities for improvement; and now the salesperson can do more cross-selling or upselling in other categories.

Is maintenance required for the machines?

If the store decides to print out results, it’ll need to replace ink or paper, for example. But the imaging equipment itself requires very little maintenance with no inherent consumables or repairs that are needed. We encourage customers to upload the continual software improvements to improve the quality of the consultation and give more information; like the aging simulation already mentioned or a 3-D simulation tool that shows a small area of the face at a time and shows the 3-D contours of the skin.

What other features of these machines might be developed in the future?

We’ll continue to add more types of analysis. Trends in the marketplace are important to customers, like products designed for eyelash growth, and we’ll look toward more analysis in general. The beauty industry changes, and you must change with it.

Are there any challenges associated with these machines?

Having a well-informed, well-trained adviser or skincare staff is a very helpful comple ment to offering skincare analysis. These aren’t designed as self-service tools. They require someone who’s well-informed. The staff is always the challenge because of turnover, but having that staff available for consultations makes a very powerful combination. Some stores have self-service kiosks that can help identify skincare concerns through a Q-and-A format, and the systems come up with brands for these concerns, but less deep insight is being provided. We believe a well-trained beauty-care consultant is very important to the process. Consultants can ask about concerns and draw out the issues that may influence the products that should be recommended.

The system can be set up to direct certain productrecommendations. But customers can have certain issues that can be very subtleor their own personal preferences—all of which a good consultant can take intoconsideration.

Is special training required to use these machines?

We’ve had a lot of experience with these systems and learned early on that simple is more powerful, and less is more. The user interface and control are easy to follow and require limited training; training can be completed in just a few hours. What’s more important is how the brand or store incorporates the system into its consultation process. The store needs to understand how to incorporate the analysis into the explanation of the products to target the problems the customer has.

253 Passaic Ave, Fairfield, NJ 07004
Contact: Jim Larkey, director of product management and marketing, 973.276.0036

Tracy Morin is a freelance writer and editor based in Oxford, MS.

[Photo caption: The VISIA machine's analysis gives consultants a range of topics to discuss with customers.]

[Image: Courtesy of Canfield Scientific]