Cross the Fruit of the Month Club with a Sephora, and throw in your fashionable best friend and what do you get? Birchbox — one of the hottest start-ups ever to hit Manhattan.
For a $10 monthly subscription, this venture-backed biz delivers deluxe-sized samples of high-end beauty products — those coveted concoctions that earn rave reviews but never go on sale. Subscribers who review these products earn points worth dollars off anything in the well-stocked Birchbox store, while Birchbox merchandises these reviews back to the brands.
The idea is brilliant because it's based on sound research and business smarts. The #1 reason a woman will buy a beauty product is because she's used it before. Birchbox changes the sampling game by collecting valuable data, and building ongoing relationships with likely buyers.
To kick-start this startup, we needed to create a visually stunning design, capable of turning the heads of demanding industry leaders. What's more, the site had to embody the refreshingly brilliant, "Sign me up!" experience that would cut through the marketing clutter and entice users to engage.
Fashion Week presented an ideal opportunity to launch the new site — which meant we had less than nine weeks to work makeover magic.
Undeterred by gender, our (then) mostly male strategy team dove headfirst into beauty magazine and flash sale sites, and discovered a disconnect between a low subscription cost and the high value of provided. To reach skeptical users, we had to strike a pitch-perfect harmony between "high end fashion" and "fantastic deals."
CMS + Ecommerce
Beyond hooking up adventurous fashionistas with expensive cosmetics, the Birchbox team are curators of beauty products. They produce blog and multimedia content to rival that of major online fashion magazines. By carefully selecting the best products and providing in-depth commentary and tutorials, they builds trust with consumers, and thus repeat visits.
At the same time, the site required back-end ecommerce functionality to manage subscriptions. To meet these combined needs, we built a custom ecommerce engine in Magento and implemented an editorial-friendly CMS.
The media attention from Birchbox's Fashion Week launch surpassed even its founders' wildest hopes. Fortunately, our technical foresight helped Birchbox meet massive traffic spikes resulting from such an astounding level of buzz.
Since then, Birchbox shot through its sales goals: reaching year-end goals in Q2, quintupling subscriptions to over 100,000, and appearing in InStyle, Marie Claire, The New York Post, among others. It makes us smile to see them shine — and know we played a role in their big debut.