Birchbox recently unveiled a revamped e-Commerce site designed to offer a more personalized shopping experience and an easier-to-navigate menu, and to further align with the company’s monthly subscription offering, which constitutes nearly 65% of sales.
Birchbox had two inspirations for building the new site experience: a strong understanding of its target customer and the need to integrate the subscription experience further into the overall e-Commerce experience. The retailer refers to its target consumer as the “casual beauty consumer” — people who have an interest in beauty products but aren’t necessarily going out of their way to find the right products.
The site design will change based on which subscription box has debuted that month. The look will take elements from each box design, such as the color scheme and patterns, and incorporate them into the header image, font color and rollover colors for links. The experience gives shoppers an easier entry point into the Birchbox subscription service and creates a sense of newness every month, according to Meredith Schwartz, VP of Product at Birchbox.
“Our shopping experience wasn’t always connected to the subscription business,” Schwartz said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The idea here was to bring some of those principles that have made our subscription experience strong into the commerce experience. Instead of being overwhelmed by choice, the idea is to provide a more limited set and allow people the ability to self-direct into the products that are going to be the most meaningful for them.”
As part of this simplified experience, Birchbox has added “Pillar Pages” to the site, which the company describes as a mix of storytelling, education and navigation for categories like makeup and skincare. Within each pillar page, for example, a shopper could find information on each “step” in the beauty routine.
The retailer trimmed the navigation menu from several categories and shopping options to a more basic format, so that viewers can shop by specific product category rather than by brand. Before the redesign, the shop navigation consisted of a single menu with about nine product categories. Then each of those categories had anywhere from 10 to 30 exposed subcategories.
“Instead of 30 different links of product types, consumers can go to a page that explains why any of these products actually exist in the first place, and how to get the product that they’re truly looking for,” Schwartz said. “For people who don’t understand where to start, this is a starting point.”
The e-Commerce redesign may have been a necessary change for a company that recently sold its majority ownership stake to Viking Global Investors. As Birchbox embarks on the next chapter, its team is focusing more on whether people come back to the site, and how long they are spending on it, rather than prioritizing whether consumers purchase or convert every time they enter the site.
“This is not just about a transaction,” Schwartz said. “We want to help people find the best beauty products and information for their needs, so we want to be establishing a relationship with our customers and bringing them back again. That mentality shift is important for us internally and we hope it feels that way for our customers as well.”