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Subscription-Based Birchbox Expands Physical Beauty Offerings

Beauty box sample provider Birchbox, which gives consumers access to new products through its monthly offerings via mail, announced plans to grow its brick-and-mortar presence by opening two more store locations in 2016, TechCrunch reported yesterday (July 15).

The subscription service company operates a storefront in Soho, New York, which opened last year. The actual locations where Birchbox will be expanding its offline footprint will be selected following an upcoming summer “road trip,” where pop-up shops in prospective cities will be used to evaluate consumer demand and sales potential.

While the company has yet to announce which cities are in the running to host its new stores, Birchbox told TechCrunch it will first allow customers to vote on locations by entering their zip codes for its road trip online. The road trip will conclude on Aug. 29, the results of which will help to decide where Birchbox’s new stores will reside.

According to TechCrunch, this is not Birchbox’s first venture into offline expansion. The company recently announced a partnership with Gap, which will include the opening of seven Birchbox pop-up shops in flagship Gap retail locations across the country.

The company confirmed its interest in the physical channel is rooted in the fact that offline customers typically show three times the lifetime value.

Birchbox is just one of several eCommerce stores experimenting with offline customer engagement in different ways, such as the launch of jewelry eRetailer Blue Nile’s “webroom” storefront or Amazon’s Treasure Truck, which can be found roaming Seattle neighborhoods offering one-day deals.

While there is no argument over the growth of eCommerce, it seems brick-and-mortar offerings may still be able to hold their own in the retail space.

In a recent report titled “State of Retail,” online appointment scheduling solutions company TimeTrade surveyed the shopping attitudes and experiences of more than 1,000 consumers, finding that more than 70 percent said they would prefer to browse and shop at a brick-and-mortar Amazon store over Amazon.com.

Even more surprising, a whopping 90 percent said they would be more likely to make a purchase when being assisted by an in-store, knowledgeable associate, which points to the value of human expertise, the study suggested.

The key to retailing success, TimeTrade recommends, may just be a cross-channel strategy blending both traditional physical shopping and eCommerce. As PYMNTS noted earlier this year, physical retail presence — and the ability to bring the tactile to online shopping via an omnichannel experience — remains a significant differentiator in what consumers buy and when.

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