BaubleBar: Fast Fashion Disrupting the Jewelry Industry
BaubleBar is striving to become the go-to destination for fashion jewelry by providing the latest trends at an affordable price.
BaubleBar, founded by HBS grads Amy Jain and Daniella Yacobovsky, is an e-commerce site selling trendy, inexpensive fashion jewelry. The company has experienced 200% annual growth in 2014 and 1,500 orders a day on average. The company’s sales are estimated to be $75 million, up from $11 million in 2012, and the founders have raised $15.6 million in three rounds of funding. 
What are the drivers behind BaubleBar’s impressive track record? I would argue BaubleBar’s success is a result of its strong alignment between its operating and business models.
BUSINESS MODEL: Disrupting the Fashion Jewelry Industry
While attending HBS, Jain and Yacobovsky identified an underserved demographic in the retail jewelry category. There were high-end jewelry stores like Tiffany’s and low-end stores such as Claire’s, but for the average woman who wanted fashion jewelry no one brand came to mind.  As they researched further, they found that women shopping for jewelry were brand agnostic, and just wanted something of quality with some style that didn’t “break the bank.” Retailers were under-serving this demographic, marking up jewelry with high margins and not turning over the selection quick enough to stay on trend.  Thus the idea for seriously disrupting the traditional e-commerce supply chain was born. BaubleBar sought to create the first online destination for fashion jewelry. The company would make it possible for customers to purchase the latest trends in accessories, hot off the runway, at affordable price points. 
SUPPLY CHAIN OPERATIONS: Delivering Fast Fashion
BaubleBar’s supply chain is configured to provide an important aspect of the business model: speed to market. The company differentiates itself from traditional competitors, and even many competing e-commerce businesses, by how quickly it can move. BaubleBar’s very compressed supply chain can see a production cycle, from design and creation of a new necklace to shipping the finished product to a customer, of as short as 4 weeks.  This allows BaubleBar to not only have the latest trends, but also react quickly when things become popular. In fact, the company has 75 to 100 new styles per week. 
To achieve this quick turnaround, BaubleBar designs its product in-house, and works closely with a network of manufacturing partners around the world, including those in Asia, Italy, South America and the U.S.  The company also air ships merchandise for faster delivery and even handles its own fulfillment. BaubleBar fulfills and ships orders in the same building as its corporate headquarters which they feel allows them to better control the customer experience and keeps the company nimble when it comes to reacting to industry or customer trends. 
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYTICS: Connecting Customer Preferences to Product Design
While BaubleBar’s speed to market is impressive, the designs it creates aren’t stabs in the dark. In fact, BaubleBar’s product line is largely informed by customer feedback and sales data. According to the founders, “the biggest driver of our success to date is our attention to our customer. We listen to her any way she talks to us, passively, or actively. We pay attention to how she is shopping our site, and what she’s looking for.” 
In order to gather as much data as possible, the company tries to create as many opportunities for people to talk to them as possible. The company is very active on social media, which is a huge channel for it in terms of getting data. They also have a customer service team this is really proactive about getting customers on the phone or having a video chat. They are another outlet for getting a lot of information. 
More importantly, BaubleBar has excellent in-house systems to organize and analyze their customer data effectively. The company has built a lot of internal software from scratch, as there are not a lot of third-party software systems designed for fast fashion.  BaubleBar can mine data down to geographies, age groups, color selects, metals, etc. to understand what’s really resonating with the customer—what she’s sharing with her friends, what she’s transacting on, and what she has no interest in.  The company can then use these data sets to inform its design team’s decisions.
About 75% of BaubleBar’s offering is merchandised four to six weeks out but the other 25% is based on real-time data.  By marrying the company’s customer data to its supply chain, BaubleBar can offer dozens of options matching customer preferences in a very short time.
Student comments on BaubleBar: Fast Fashion Disrupting the Jewelry Industry
Great post Palak, love this! I have a couple of questions around their returns policy – how do they manage this process? Also, have they been able to look at the operating model for similar companies, such as Gilt, and adapt/improve it for their purposes?
Awesome! So much of BaubleBar’s jewelry is of a similar style (statement necklaces), I would be interested to know how they know if/when to enter a slightly different space, for example, a minimalist style that is currently trendy. Included in the customer feedback on current styles, do they solicit ideas or requests from customers? Do they then introduce a style in a limited quantity to test out demand?
Love this! How will this business model work if/when they scale and move to other consumer segments – maybe handbags? or wallets etc?