Birchbox, known for the vivid pink cardboard boxes of sample products that it sends to its subscribers each month, shook up the cosmetic and beauty industry by figuring out a way to get consumers to buy makeup online, and to pay for samples that department store makeup counters usually give away.
Now the four-year-old company, which was all about making an almost exclusively offline industry work on the web, opened its first retail store.
Birchbox’s approach to brick-and-mortar retail carefully mirrors the digital brand it’s known for. Editorial displays carry copy with a tone that matches the website, and there are iPads that promise personalized offerings. Naturally, the store’s pink, white, and tan color scheme matches the boxes it sends to its female subscribers.
The company’s new store is merchandized by category, not brand. In the Birchbox store, items are arranged the same way they’d appear online, in sections like “BB Cream” or “second-day hair products.” In the "Try Bar," shoppers can experiment with different products and the Build Your Own Birchbox (BYOB) section one can select five sample-size products. For those who prefer digital advice to the human sort, there’s the massive, touch-screen product-matcher that simulates the algorithm Birchbox uses to send users their monthly samples.
Despite the many physical products placed around the store, the space leans heavily on the company’s online presence. The iPads placed around the floor offer more products, reviews, and video tutorials from Birchbox.com.