A Natural History of the Scentsa: Fragrances Publisher Gets Huntington Capital Financing to Expand Technology Platform

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the knowledge she had amassed about fragrances—and she set out to transform the catalog of information she had pulled together into an online database about fragrances and perfumes.

That strategy wasn’t exactly right either, but she was on the right scent. Over the next year she began developing Scentsa, a software and services platform that provides retailers with an interactive touch screen. Shoppers and sales assistants can use the wall-mounted screen to call up a potpourri of information about perfumes and related products.

“We’ve worked very hard to make it very easy to use,” Moran says. “It takes just a few seconds to know how to use it, and to find relevant information.”

Crescent House introduced its touch screen system in 2008 under an agreement with Sephora, the French chain of cosmetics stores, deploying 275 units in less than three months, according to Steven Fish, Crescent House’s co-CEO. Under their agreement Sephora has rights to Crescent House’s proprietary Scentsa and ScentsaBeauty software in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Fish says the technology also is available in Sephora in JCPenney, certain DFS Galleria duty-free shops, and Barnes & Noble College Bookstores.

Sephora by Scentsa

Sephora by Scentsa

Crescent was willing to sign an exclusive deal with Sephora, Fish says, because “Sephora is a best-of-breed for what they do.” As a technology platform, the touch-screen system and database could be used by other types of retailers to sell other products, such as wine and cheese, according to Fish and Moran.

They say the technology is ideal for retailers who stock a diverse assortment of products, in which expert knowledge can tip the balance in consumers’ purchase decisions, and in which consumers’ desire for knowledge also enhances the buying decision.

“We provide all the hardware, installation, software, updates, and we only charge a monthly fee,” Fish says. “It’s turned out to be very successful for us.”

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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