Color this beauty blogger impressed. I finally got a chance to visit Birchbox, the beauty subscription service and e-commerce site, at the brand’s first brick-and-mortar retail store, which opened in New York last week. Located in Soho, the store includes a curated product assortment from 250 brands. Birchbox joins brands like Warby Parker and Bonobos in making the leap from exclusively online ventures to physical stores.
Birchbox launched in 2010 and has grown rapidly with a goal of redefining the retail process by offering customers a way to try and experience the best beauty products on the market. Birchbox offers monthly subscriptions, in which customers are sent boxes containing sample-sized beauty products, in addition to an e-commerce site where all the products are available for purchase. The brand tested pop-up locations in New York and the Hamptons before making the leap to a permanent residency.[more]
The Birchbox Soho store follows a vertical merchandising strategy, with products are displayed by category like makeup, skin, and hair—rather than by brand. This strategy echoes how customers may view the products online. The visual display system is intended to do just that. As Birchbox PR associated Brittany Ricca told me, “Birchbox has taken elements from their e-commerce shop look and feel and translated them into the physical store. Brick and mortar allows customers to try on and interact with their favorite beauty and grooming products in a new way.”
Not surprisingly, Birchbox aims to create a seamless online and in-store customer experience, holding personalization through technology at its core. Beauty services for hair, nails and makeup are offered by appointment along with group classes on a variety of topics. The store also has a B.Y.O.B—Build Your Own Birchbox—section where customers can choose five samples and personalize their own Birchbox. The store has touchscreens for customers to receive custom product recommendations, watch video demonstrations and read reviews.
It’s all in keeping with the brand’s philosophy, as co-founder and Co-CEO Katia Beauchamp puts it: “Our goal with Birchbox has always been to make it easy, efficient and fun for people to discover new brands and products fit for their lifestyle. We have learned so much about how we can drive customers to change their behavior online, and we see an opportunity to extend into offline retail to evolve with our customer’s needs.”