Do you feel that the site is successful in driving consumer demand for beauty products?
We are both an ecommerce and a marketing channel. And we know that some customers are buying products from us, and some are buying the same products elsewhere because now they recognize the brands when they see them in the real world. We ask customers if they pick [up those brands] elsewhere. We are proud of the fact that we are growing the absolute pie and helping offline retailers as well.
Another cool thing we’ve seen since launch is that we used to just sell the specific products we were sampling, but then we realized that consumers wanted to be introduced to other products from that same brand. So now, typically when we sample products from a particular brand we’ll also carry other products from that brand. When people decide that they love the brand, they may go on the site and decide to buy a full-size version of the sample they tried, or they might try other things from the same brand.
How many samples convert into full-size purchases?
A lot. It’s going really well, but it’s not a number that we’re openly sharing right now. We’re very focused on it, but we’re also focused on all of the channels—not just the Birchbox channel.
Are product discounts given to encourage purchases from Birchbox rather than other places?
We have a loyalty program, but we’re not playing in the discount realm.
We reward our customers for feedback, referrals and for purchasing full-size products. Those points they earn go toward gift cards that they can spend on the site; so effectively they’re getting a discount through the loyalty program by earning it.
Would you please explain the loyalty program in more detail?
Every 100 points a customer earns can be redeemed for $10 to spend on the site. Points are earned when customers refer friends (50 points), spend money (one point for each dollar) and fill out feedback surveys (10 points). So the points can be earned very fast.
How do you acquire new brands to carry?
We’re focused on finding the newest and best brands and working with brands that we’ve always loved.
Between the partnerships team and the editors, Mollie and I created a list when we first launched that had hundreds of brands on it that we wanted to work with and there was a lot of initial outreach there. Now we’re fortunate enough to get a lot of great brands reaching out to us.
If we don’t know the brand well, we get it and try it, and show it to a bunch of different people in the office to get a lot of different opinions. We research the product and brand, and that’s how we decide if it’s really a fit for us.
Are you still looking to add more brands?
We’re always looking. It’s really important for us to stay on top of what’s happening out there, so we’ll never stop looking. If someone wants to send us something for consideration, they can email email@example.com, and we’ll either schedule a time to chat or ask them to send us some products to try and schedule a meeting from there.
How do you solicit your customer feedback?
The products have surveys associated with them every month, but we also—every other month or quarterly—survey our subscribers to get feedback on the service and how we’re doing. Hayley and I still talk to subscribers every week, and our customer-service team is incredible and always keeping us in the loop as far as what the vibe is out there and what people are saying. We’re very in touch with feedback.
[Photo caption: Birchbox has already won many prestigious awards and honors.]