Birchbox’s two data scientists build recommendation algorithms for its grooming samples

NEW YORK — In most tech meetups,  people are asked how many people have heard of Birchbox? Most of the nearly hundred people raised their hand. If you’re still wondering, what it is about, it’s this: Birchbox delivers monthly boxes of beauty or grooming samples, picked to match your profile.

Headquartered in New York City, with operations in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Canada and Belgium, the company has grown at a fast clip with a strong following among its first clientele–the female set and secondary target, the male set.

Last November 19, CTO Liz Crawford talked about her role and how the company operates at the NYC European Tech Meetup which held the event at Spotify’s roomy industrial-themed office. Inside, it’s hard to believe you’re in New York.

Birchbox reportedly does not have a “global content system” as of yet, but the United States is home for its marketing initiatives and infrastructure. Engineering, however, is hard to internationalize, she said.

“There’s a lot of hidden complexity in running a business like Birchbox,” she said. “We often ask ourselves how much do we need to spend for operational infrastructure and software.”

Birchbox has two data scientists who build recommendation algorithms. They rely on signals. For example, they try to find out if customers favorited or liked a product online. “Our data scientists work on optimizing (samples in our boxes).

“Figuring out what to send to customers is actually hard. The more customers we get, the harder it becomes,” she added.

What is a good box can be different for anyone? “All we want is for the experience to be personal to you,” she said.

Crawford said there are similarities with the boxes in the different countries, but the US box has admittedly “more features.”

Eventually, after subscribing, customers buy the brands from the samples in the box.

As the holiday approaches, Crawford who admits to working late lately said things will be picking up again soon and it will be a busy time for Birchbox.

Birchbox reportedly doesn’t charge any shipping or handling fees—just the $10/month, $110/year for the Beauty Box and $20/month for Birchbox Man. If your shipping address is in a state it operates, sales tax will be applied to your order.


Dennis Clemente

Shuttling between New York and other US cities, Dennis writes about tech meetups when he's not too busy working as a Web Developer/Producer + UX Writer and Digital Marketer.

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