Birchbox, New York
433 West Broadway, SoHo, New York.
RPG, New York
Birchbox, the online beauty retailer which offers customers a subscription to personalised monthly boxes of sample sized products, has now opened a flagship store in New York’s SoHo.
The ‘clicks to bricks’ phenomenon is important not just because it proves that physical retail is still the best way to engage customers, but because these upstart online brands are reinventing the shopping experience in the most charming ways.
Birchbox.com opened for business online in September 2010, selling beauty, grooming and lifestyle products.
Founded in New York by two Harvard Business School graduates Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna, the company is now valued at $485 million.
For $10 per month ($110 per year), women get a box sent in the post with a surprise selection of four or five sample sized products based on skincare, fragrance, makeup and an extra ‘fun’ non beauty item.
The whole brand is tied together with an enthusiastic and expert tone of voice and an editorial, curated approach.
In only four years, Birchbox, has built up a devoted following.
More than 800,000 women subscribe to the company’s monthly beauty sample boxes. (The company also offers boxes for men.)
Half of them purchase full-sized versions of those items on Birchbox.com.
Since opening, Birchbox has been inundated with offers to open further locations, but the brand is treating this first flagship as an experimental test bed for future physical expansion.
The store is merchandised by category, not by brand. The Try Bar is an edit of hot new trends, chosen by Birchbox ‘editors’ every month.
This retail approach matches Birchbox’s online personality, which is bubbly, enthusiastic and evangelical.
At the Build your own Birchbox bar, you can choose five samples from five categories for $15. There are three colour choices for the boxes, pink, white and tan. This colour scheme is used throughout the store design.
Downstairs, the Birchbox salon offers professional hair, makeup, and nail services. There’s also a selection of Birchbox Man products.
Video screens feature tutorials to keep customers entertained and inspired to try something new.
Yet another example of an online pioneer with something to teach the ‘real’ retail world.