How Birchbox gave their subscription experience a total makeover

Birchbox is an industry-defining beauty brand and long-time subscription advocate. To stand out in a crowded market, Birchbox wanted to migrate from a homegrown system to a dedicated platform so they could layer advanced customization capabilities over their subscription box experience.

Founded in 2010, Birchbox redefined the beauty industry by pioneering subscription boxes. Their innovative approach transformed how consumers discovered and shopped for beauty and grooming products. More than a decade later, Birchbox is a household name with over 100,000 active subscribers.

However, a lot has changed since Birchbox took the beauty industry by storm. Birchbox’s success sparked a flood of copycat subscription boxes, leading to intense competition for consumers’ eyeballs and wallets.

At the same time, consumer demand for beauty products has shifted. Today’s beauty consumers are knowledgeable and discerning about the products they purchase. Most beauty consumers no longer want a random assortment of beauty products sent to them monthly. They crave customization, flexibility, and control.

Redefining the beauty industry – again

In early 2022, Birchbox recognized the simultaneous challenges facing their business and saw an opportunity to innovate once more by layering advanced customization capabilities over their subscription box experience.

With advanced customization capabilities, Birchbox reasoned, not only would they meet consumer demand for control, but they would also differentiate their offering from their competitors.

At the time, Birchbox offered 4-5 sample products in their monthly subscription box. They wanted to continue to provide a monthly subscription box but also allow subscribers to customize their order in myriad ways, including swapping multiple sample-sized products for a full-sized product.

“We required the operational flexibility so we could capitalize on the opportunity to identify the wants and needs of our customers and provide them with products that met those needs each and every month,” said Brandon Garcia, vice president of product at Birchbox.

Layering consumer customization capabilities is a significant undertaking, and Birchbox determined that to succeed, they needed to migrate their subscription experience off of their homegrown system to a dedicated subscription platform that offered:

  • Robust APIs to allow consumers full control of every subscription order
  • A scalable solution to support the continued growth of their massive subscriber base
  • Minimal operational maintenance to protect internal resources
  • A streamlined and battle-tested migration process to ensure they didn’t lose their hard-earned subscribers

Birchbox screenshot

Overcoming a migration roadblock

Birchbox moved quickly. They researched popular Shopify apps and selected a new subscription integration with numerous positive but shallow customer reviews. However, they soon discovered that just because a subscription app has tons of reviews, it doesn’t mean the app can handle a large and complex migration nor support their vision for a reimagined subscription experience.

Birchbox launched on the subscription app and hit roadblocks immediately. In some cases, subscribers were charged the wrong amount of money and on the wrong day.

Hours after launching, Birchbox knew the subscription app wasn’t right for their brand.

“What we learned very quickly – within 72 to 100 hours of launching – is that [the subscription app] was not equipped to perform the migration in the way we needed them to,” Garcia said. “It was clear they weren’t built for clients as large as us, despite how many smaller clients they had on Shopify.”

“We knew there would be issues, but what broke us was there were a couple of instances where [the subscription app’s team] said they would do something, and it didn’t happen,” Garcia said. “We lost faith in them as a partner. We couldn’t trust them.”

Losing revenue by the minute, Birchbox needed to find a new subscription platform that was purpose-built for large brands like themselves.

“It was a severe situation,” Garcia said

Knowing that Ordergroove was going to work with us in the snow, in the dead of night, through this craziness, was really confidence inspiring.

Brandon Garcia

Brandon Garcia

Vice President of Product

Birchbox

Making the switch to Ordergroove

Birchbox contacted their Shopify customer success manager, who recommended Ordergroove, a certified Shopify Plus Preferred Partner. The beauty brand was intrigued by Ordergroove’s ability to handle a large number of subscribers and multiple types of subscription experiences.

However, what put Ordergroove above their competition was their robust migration technology and processes and their roster of happy customers willing to speak to other brands about their successes.

“The single most important thing in our decision-making was that Ordergroove had productized their migration tool,” Garcia said.

Ordergroove’s migration tool lets brands easily edit and test their subscriber data before launching their experience.

Garcia added: “Having gone through this traumatic experience, I wanted the future of our business in no one’s hands but my own, and knowing that Ordergroove was going to work with us in the snow, in the dead of night, through this craziness, was really confidence inspiring.”

A transformed subscription experience

Over the course of weeks, Birchbox successfully migrated their subscriber base to Ordergroove, unlocking the ability to build the advanced subscription experience needed to combat competition and meet emerging consumer demands. What’s more, Birchbox secured their position as the leader in beauty subscriptions.

Birchbox’s subscription experience now includes a robust guided selling experience that seamlessly integrates with Ordergroove subscriptions, and their subscribers can customize their orders to fit their personal needs.

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Birchbox believes in easy-to-use beauty products that work – and make you look and feel great. Their subscription experiences ensure your favorite beauty products are sent directly to your doorstep.

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