Online Beauty Retailer Opens Personalized Store Powered by Artificial Intelligence

Online Beauty Retailer Opens Personalized Store Powered by Artificial Intelligence

Birchbox Soho uses machine learning to bring the popular subscription service to its first brick-and-mortar location in SoHo.

Kristina Denstitt
  • 14 july 2014

While e-commerce has become a staple of the modern retail experience, for many shoppers it can’t replace the tactile experience of testing products before a purchase. New York-based Internet startup Birchbox aimed to change this in 2010 by creating a strategy for tapping into the persistently offline beauty market, selling customized subscription boxes filled with full-sized product samples, which subscribers can then buy from their online store. Birchbox is now bringing their concept directly to customers with Birchbox Soho, its first brick-and-mortar store.


With 4,500 square feet and an assortment of beauty and lifestyle products from over 250 brands, the location boasts several features, each of which corresponds to a facet of its online experience. Similar to the survey that new Birchbox subscribers take to determine which samples they will receive in the mail, the SoHo store contains iPads and a large touchscreen that patrons use to answer questions about themselves and receive customized product recommendations. Machine learning and artificial intelligence powers these recommendations to create a personalized retail experience for each shopper.

Visitors can also create their own subscription box like the one subscribers receive in the mail at the B.Y.O.B., or “Build Your Own Birchbox” area. The brand’s beauty editors offer even more sampling at the Try Bar, a curated counter furnished with testers of trendy new products. A basement-level salon books hair and makeup appointments, as well as stocking a full selection of men’s grooming products from brands featured in the men’s subscription box. Birchbox Soho will also offer cosmetology classes that will be free for subscribers.


It is no wonder that Birchbox has grown so quickly with such a consumer-focused business model. Started by Harvard Business School graduates Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna around the idea that department store cosmetics counters can be impersonal and intimidating for some people, its subscriber base has doubled from 400,000 in 2013 to 800,000 this year. Their current store is the culmination of several successful pop-up store events in the New York City area, including one at STORY, (formerly A Startup Store,) in Chelsea.

Birchbox Soho hints at a possible future of retail where targeted marketing moves from the domain of online services such as Amazon and Google Adsense into traditional storefronts. The question of whether consumers will embrace this concept remains unanswered, but for now Birchbox is a unique experiment.

Birchbox Soho

via Adweek


Flower Pencils Create Cherry Blossom Petals When Sharpened

Arts & Culture
Technology Today

Fragrance Will Release The Smell Of Data If Your Private Information Is Being Leaked

The device is designed to create a physical cue for the potential dangers lurking online

Retail Today

LYNK & CO Is A New Auto Brand That Promises Mobile Connectivity On Wheels

Online access and mobility sharing are driving the company to disrupt the auto industry


Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Gaming & Play Today

Nintendo’s New Console Pushes For Portable Gaming

The Switch allows gamers to seamlessly play on the go by themselves or with friends

Entertainment Today

Speaker Displays Song Lyrics As Music Is Played

The device is able to generate the graphics on a translucent screen and retrieve the words from a connected database

AI Today

Travel Assistant Scans Your Emails To Make Planning Easier

This AI add-on will sync with your inbox and sends reminders to make sure you don't miss anything important

Millennials Today

FOMO Survival Kit Helps Millennials Cope With Social Anxieties

The satirical product is meant to be a playful diversion for people who feel like they are missing out


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Yesterday

Wearable Tech Expert: Designing Technology To Empower Connection To Ourselves

Billie Whitehouse, Founder of Wearable Experiments, shares her new vision for the quantified self

PSFK Labs Today

PSFK Picks: Top 5 Performance-Enhancing Wearables

Our new report looks at innovations pioneering the future of performance through intelligent activewear and predictive analytics

Food Today

New York Restaurant Uses Tomato Sushi As Its Newest Meat Alternative

fresh&co is using sous vide Roma tomatoes to create a vegan option that has the texture and taste of tuna

Advertising Today

Red Bull Converts Sao Paulo Payphones Into Data-Driven Bus Schedules

The booths allow city residents to check local transit times through a simple toll-free phone call

Work Today

Health Expert: Nutritional Meal Replacements Are A Solution To Corporate Wellness

Ample Foods Founder Connor Young explains why supplements are the next food trend coming to the workplace

Retail Today

Why Experiential Events Could Replace Trade Shows

Marketers are seeking creative and impactful new ways to connect with influencers

Children Today

Modular Kit Teaches Kids How To Make Their Own Robots

MODI features magnetic modules and a platform for programming to encourage experimentation

Infants Today

Work Table Doubles As A Baby Seat

Designer Kunsik Choi created the furniture to facilitate emotional communication between between parents and their children

Technology Today

Album Turns Into Something New Each Time It’s Streamed

Bill Baird's new album explores the relationship between time and music through a website crafted by design team, One Pixel Wide

Technology Today

Wearable Device And Lamp Recreate Beautiful Sunsets In Your Home

Sun Memories can record up to six hours of natural light and reproduce it via a connected light at a later date

No search results found.