Subscription shopping redefines what it means to shop retail
A personalized monthly delivery that allows you to discover new items is redefining retail and online shopping. Birchbox, an online subscription shopping website, offers a unique way for shoppers to test and discover new beauty and lifestyle products without ever having to leave their house.
Subscription shopping is a growing trend and offers shoppers the ease of having varying products picked out for them and mailed directly to their doorstep. Subscription shopping is appealing in that it allows shoppers to test out new products before making a purchase.
Birchbox was launched in September 2010 in New York and initially only offered female products. It was then extended to include products for men in 2012 with “Birchbox Man,” which ranges from tech accessories to hip socks. A subscription costs $10 a month for women and $20 a month for men.
The company focuses on selling high-end beauty and facial products. This form of discovery shopping allows subscribers to test out new products without having to commit to a purchase of the full-sized version.
Nicole Duxbury, a UO senior and recent subscriber to Birchbox, likes the idea that she gets to try out many different products each month that were hand picked for her.
“It’s a great way to explore new products without being overwhelmed,” Duxbury said.
In order to receive products that a subscriber will enjoy, subscribers create a profile in which they specify their personal preferences. Then the rest is left up to the employees of Birchbox to pick out samples customized for the subscriber and mail them to his or her house once a month.
The ease of being sent products that are specifically picked out for you is one of the things Duxbury enjoys about Birchbox.
“I have a hard time figuring out which products to try, so I like people just giving me samples. That way, I don’t buy something and not like it,” she said.
If the subscriber is sent a sample that he or she likes, there is the opportunity to purchase the full-sized version of the product from their online store. Shoppers are rewarded for their shopping through Birchbox points, which can be used towards discounts on other products. Subscribers are also given the opportunity to rate the products they were sent.
“I like that you can try different things and then rate them, by rating them you get a discount on other products,” Emily Oapley, a UO senior who has been a subscriber for about 6 months, said.
The success of this subscription-based commerce platform is evident. Birchbox now has roughly 400,000 subscribers, which is double what it was last year, according to CNN and is continuously growing and expanding. Birchbox now has other lifestyle boxes meant for special occasions such as hosting holiday parties or dinner parties.
According to Duxbury, the one downfall is that you are only sent samples.
“Some of the samples they give you are only enough to use once. It’s hard to tell if you like something off one try,” she said.
Overall, Duxbury and Oapley had really positive things to say about Birchbox, and it is clear that many others feel the same.
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