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


Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Arts & Culture
Mobile august 26, 2016

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture august 26, 2016

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms


Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Design august 26, 2016

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

Fashion august 26, 2016

Fashionable Tassel Will Ensure You Never Lose Your Valuables Again

The device is fashion meets connected tech, that will help you keep track of your belongings at all times


Danielle Fong

Solar Power, Battery Technology, Sustainability

Syndicated august 26, 2016

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability august 26, 2016

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

PSFK Op-Ed august 25, 2016

Retail Expert: What Sustainability Means To The Millennial Generation

Jo Godden, Founder of RubyMoon, discusses how brands can limit their environmental impact worldwide

PSFK Labs august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising august 26, 2016

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising august 26, 2016

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work august 26, 2016

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Arts & Culture august 26, 2016

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings


Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games

Design august 26, 2016

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia august 26, 2016

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising august 26, 2016

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.