Another online retailer gets real with brick and mortar

According to Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox’s co-founder and co-CEO, “Silos force you to shop a brand.”

Birchbox, the previously online retailer that sends monthly beauty and grooming sample boxes to more than 800,000 subscribers, is opening its first store today in Manhattan.

In case you’re not familiar with the service, Birchbox is a monthly membership service. It costs $10 a month and you receive 5 deluxe size beauty samples in the mail. You can cancel the service at any time, although, the Birchbox fans at our Charlotte marketing agency eagerly anticipate their monthly beauty assortment.

Unlike a startup like the jewelry site BaubleBar, Birchbox doesn’t sell products under its own name, but the company had such a strong response to the popup store it creeated during New York Fashion Week last September, that they decided to open a brick-and-mortar location to give a new dimension to its “discovery retail” model.

So in order to merchandise the way customers shop, the new store will be arranged by category rather than brand (eyes, blush, hair, etc.) — which is distinctly different from the planogram of a department store or a speciality retailer like Sephora.

The company, which counts Accel Partners and First Round Capital among its investors, has said its samples are 10 times more effective than the rest of the beauty industry in driving customers to ultimately purchase full-size versions of products. That’s critical, given that men and women are likely to stay with the same brands once they’re hooked. With this brick-and-mortar location, Birchbox will get to see how its full-size products perform right out the gate (and probably acquire more subscribers in-store).

Taking advantage of the new physical presence, Birchbox will also hold classes on topics such as makeup contouring, which will be free for subscribers, as well as hair, nail and makeup services for a fee. In the back of the store, customers can even build their own Birchbox, for $15.

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