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1. Brand Variety – no two Sephora stores are the same (only one of the three that I go to with any regularity carry Ardency Inn, for example.)

2. Return Policy – I rarely return, but when I really feel like I need to, I want to know that I can.

3. Exclusives – Knowing that the store will have something that someone else won’t may help me decide where I go to make that purchase!

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In no particular order…
Courteous and knowledge staff if it’s a store — if online then reasonable shipping rates.
Good return policy
Regularly stocked

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1. Loyalty/points programs: I specifically shop at Sephora/Ulta instead of brands’ websites for this reason.
2: Frequent sales/coupons/discounts: Because I’m frugal…-ish.
3. Variety of brands, and full ranges: Hate it when a brand’s full range isn’t represented by a retailer.

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Customer service, product quality, and shipping costs. I don’t mind waiting a long time as long as I know what I should expect, but nothing turns me off more than bad customer service.

Availability (stores nearby to visit and an online site), great customer service, customer rewards program

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1) Free delivery/shipping everywhere does free shipping so I don’t get why others still charge ¬.¬.
2) Good quality products goes without saying really.
3) Generously sized product.

Variety, especially in-store. I hate it when a brand only has a few products available to see in person while the rest are on-line only.


Good lighting. The biggest gripe I have with Sephora is having to swatch on the back of my hand and then walk out into the mall to see it properly. Department stores and drug stores on the other hand are nice and bright.

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I agree with the lighting issue. I really wish that Sephora would go into locations where there was an external entrance/exit so you could see in natural light!

Too bloody true about big S lighting! Hourglass all looks livid, like funeral home makeup. ALPs all looked unwearable, but they have been hugely popular. Esp bad, if you can’t dislodge the product from the tester + you can only judge under sickly yellowy fluorescents. I don’t think I ever got a French (Chanel, YSL, Givenchy @ S, because the GLARE makes them look cheap. (+ used to do them a lot at Bloomie’s, before Nordie’s was in my area.) Mirrory packages give you eyestrain under their lighting, flash on my glasses + make me look away + take glasses off. All in all, the older I get, the worse S gets + the less likely I am to put up w/ it. But, we put up w/them for the bennies + variety. BTW, they never have full NARS + others, like Barney’s, Bluemercury, Nordie’s, Saks, Nieman’s. And they replicate lots of the dept store brands, Clinique, Lancome, etc. Didn’t do that, when they were only in Boston, not suburban…lots of fun niche brands from abroad. it was an adventure then… And my local ‘burban S is usually feeeelthy, like seagulls have been at the testers. If I know I like s.t., I’m as likely to order it, so as to avoid that dreadful mall store. I also get at least one broken item per haul + they get PISSED, if I check it out before I buy. Gotta go back now, ’cause the ALB mood exposure is broken. Usually can only cope w/ S, when the new collections come out. U, by contrast, is cleaner, better tended, + the SAs are much more pleasant.

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Online retailers: selection, shipping, return policy, and customer service if I need it (OK, so that’s 4!)

Actual stores: friendly, courteous, helpful but non-intrusive staff; lots of opportunity to test out products in a hygienic fashion; a generous sampling and return policy; wide selection; and keeping things in stock (OK, so that’s 5, but I tried to rank them in order of importance).

Seriously, my closest Sephora used to be *so* friendly, I only went there once a month but everyone remembered me and gave me great advice. Now some of the staff come across as suspicious when I ask for samples or even borderline rude when I ask for help or advice, and I spend enough $$ there to have their VIB Rouge level! So even though I love Sephora’s sampling policy, I’m inclined to spend more at my local Ulta, where everyone says hello even if i just walk through.

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1. Fast shipping and handling! Don’t you just hate it when you order something on Monday morning, select 2-3 day shipping thinking you’ll at least have it by Friday, and then receive an email on Thursday afternoon saying “good news, your order shipped today”. Few things pisses me off more.

2. Different payment options. They have to accept non-US credit cards, PayPal is a huge plus (not the “we don’t accept international PayPal accounts”-crap) and the checkout process should be as fast and simple as possible.

3. Large variety of brands and it’s also important that they have all of the products/shades that those brands offer (in stock).

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