Online subscription service gets physical
While many e-tailers have been setting up stores or showrooms to support their online businesses, Birchbox has apparently become the first subscription service to open a physical space.
For $10 a month, Birchbox sends four to five deluxe beauty and lifestyle samples to each subscriber customized to their profile. Founded in 2010, Birchbox has about 800,000 monthly subscribers. Full-sized versions of the samples are available for sale on the company’s site.
The new two-level, 4,500-square-foot store in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood at 433 West Broadway is expected to boost e-commerce sales of full-sized products, which presently accounts for only 30 percent of Birchbox’s business. The opening follows pop-up tests in New York and the Hamptons. Co-founder Hayley Barna told The New York Times, "We saw some clues along the way — wow, it’s really powerful to interact with our customers."
According to a statement, the store features:
- Curated product assortment featuring 2,000 products from 250 brands including Smashbox, Caudalie, Jouer, Supergoop! and Art of Shaving. Testers are available for all products.
- A vertical merchandising strategy that allows consumers to shop by category instead of by brand. For example, a shopper looking for red lipstick could compare different types in the makeup section of the store.
- A dedicated "B.Y.O.B." (Build Your Own Birchbox) section where shoppers can handpick five sample size products of their choice for $15.
- Editorial content, videos and product reviews supported by touchscreens throughout the shop to help customers learn and self-navigate.
- A "Try Bar" where customers can experiment with different beauty trends and find the products that are right for them.
- Beauty services available by appointment (and for walk-ins when available) for hair, nails and makeup.
- Group classes on makeup and skin care tricks, and services like hairstyling — free for Birchbox subscribers and $30 for non-subscribers.
"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," said Katia Beauchamp, the other co-founder, in a statement. "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 customers’ needs."
Monthly subscription services, also known as mystery boxes, can be found across categories but are particularly popular in the beauty category. Birchbox’s competitors include Popsugar, Glossybox, Julep, MyGlam and Ipsy.
- Birchbox Opens First Brick-and-Mortar Retail Store in Soho NYC – Birchbox
- Birchbox, Seller of Beauty Products, Steps Out From Web With a Store – The New York Times (tiered sub.)
- Birchbox to open its first brick-and-mortar store in SoHo – New York Daily News
- Birchbox’s First Brick-and-Mortar Store Actually Makes Sense – New York Magazine
- Is Bonobos paving the way for e-commerce showrooms? – RetailWire
Is there a big brick & mortar opportunity for monthly subscription services? How does it work similarly and differently to e-tailer showrooms?