Birchbox is celebrating its sixth birthday with a revamped mobile presence.
The beauty-box originator now has more than 1 million box subscribers and 4 million total customers, and the majority of them shop on mobile. The platform makes up half of Birchbox’s revenues and 70 percent of total traffic, according to the company.
“[Customers] are visiting Birchbox mostly on mobile, and that’s something we wanted to capitalize on,” said chief executive officer Katia Beauchamp, describing the updated model as “more engaging, more useful and more responsive.” The new experience, which has been in the works since the spring, was built using Facebook’s React framework specifically with speedy transactions and ease of use in mind. The React framework will eventually be worked into the desktop experience as well, according to the company.
“From a branding perspective [it’s] elevated — it feels more current and more Birchbox,” Beauchamp said. “But from my perspective, it’s really the speed and user experience evolution that is the bigger part.”
The move follows Birchbox’s latest capital infusion, a $15 million bridge round that it raised from existing investors in early August. That raise was the first since the company’s $60 million round in 2014 that valued Birchbox at about $485 million. Since then, though, the company’s gone through some growing pains. It laid off 50 employees in January and 15 more in June, citing its need to get to profitability. It’s also switched up certain back-end operations to save millions of dollars, sources said.
Industry sources have said the business is expected to become profitable in the second half of 2016.
Going forward, Birchbox is placing a heightened focus on personalization, according to Beauchamp. The business has gradually switched up the way it selects products for each box, giving users more options for customization and the opportunity to pick specific products for their boxes. That idea — one where customers make more personalized choices — is where the company will focus in 2017, Beauchamp said, declining to elaborate on specifics.
Six months after subscribing to Birchbox, customers double their spend in the beauty category, according to the company, which sourced third-party credit card data.
“A big part of the reason why we decided to continue to focus on what I would call personalization in the whole user experience is … we have this distinct customer [and] her needs evolved over time. We’re continuing to explore opportunities for the customer whose needs do evolve throughout her relationship with Birchbox. Our number-one priority is to stay relevant to our consumers.”
Before that next step, in October, Birchbox will expand the product mix for its ship-with-box service, which lets customers pick out full-size products and have them mailed with their beauty boxes. The service started with a handful of products in late May, but will be available for 90 percent of the shopping catalog as of October. Previously, customers had to meet a $50 minimum for free shipping.