E-commerce startup Beauty Army is moving beyond its subscription commerce offering and opening up a full-fledged store for health and beauty products. And it’s doing so in a big way, with more than 200 brands and 20,000 products available for sale through its online catalog.
Beauty Army launched two years ago (on January 1st!) with a Birchbox-like subscription commerce platform for beauty products. But unlike Birchbox, which generally sends many of the same samples to its users, Beauty Army was built to give its users personalized recommendations for the products that they received.
It does that thanks to a huge data set on the back end that enables users to easily find products that are suited to their skin color and their personal style. When you first sign up for Beauty Army, you take a survey and create a profile that matches you up with products enjoyed by other users like you.
When Beauty Army was mainly doing this as a subscription commerce offering, the website would offer up a choice of nine products each month, of which users would pick six. It then used the data collected to better refine results over time. Now that it has all that data, it will be applying what it knows to full-sized products that can be ordered from its site.
When logging into Beauty Army, you still need to create a profile to get started, but once that’s done, you’re no longer limited to a certain number of sample items each month. Instead you can choose from any number of products available on the site.
But to get there, it still asks you a series of questions to help you find just the right product. Customers choose which category of product they’re looking for — either makeup, skin care, hair care, nail care, or fragrance — and then follow a series of questions to narrow down the results and provide a group of products that fits their preferences.
CEO Lindsey Guest compared that level of personalization to what you might find on other e-commerce sites, where it’s more or less impossible to find what you’re looking for — at least from a health and beauty standpoint. (Try shopping for ‘red lipstick on Walmart.com, for instance.) While there’s a bit more work involved in getting to a refined search page on Beauty Army, the company thinks the results that come in will be a lot better overall.
From a business standpoint, the e-commerce platform also makes a bit of sense in that it will open up a much bigger opportunity for Beauty Army. The platform was built by partnering with major online retailers, which actually hold the inventory and handle fulfillment.
In that way, Beauty Army doesn’t have to work directly with brands, and it carries none of the inventory risk of other e-commerce providers. The startup will continue to offer subscriptions for those who like that sort of thing, but with a full-fledged story, Beauty Army customers are no longer limited to six samples a month.