Birchbox Goes Bricks-and-Mortar with Store in SoHo

7/14/14Follow @jpruth

Another player in e-commerce has opened up a real-world outlet.

Birchbox in New York took the wraps off its first retail location, set in the SoHo district of the city, on Friday. Since its founding in 2010, Birchbox has offered a monthly, online subscription service for curated samples of beauty products, and has built up a traditional e-retail business as well.

The company said the new store on West Broadway sells a selection of 2,000 products from 250 brands. Visitors to the shop can get product recommendations by answering questions on touchscreens at the store, read product reviews, put together a Birchbox of five sample-size items for $15, and try out makeup.

Going bricks-and-mortar with a boutique shop seems to be a growing trend among startups that first launch online. Other companies in the e-commerce scene such as Warby Parker in New York and Ministry of Supply in Boston have opened real-world stores to help cement their connection with consumers.

Birchbox’s strategy has evolved as the subscription market has gotten more crowded and noisy. In April, the company said it raised $60 million in a Series B round led by Viking Global, with others such as Accel Partners, Aspect Partners, Comcast Ventures, and First Round Capital participating. Birchbox said the money would go towards expansion, new hires, updates to its mobile app, and marketing.

Last year, the company said its e-tailing of full-size products had grown into more than one-quarter of its business. Now Birchbox will see if it can make a splash in real-world retail.

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth. Follow @jpruth