BaubleBar: Redefining How Women Shop for Fashion Jewelry
A “fast-fashion” jewelry startup shaking up traditional retail
Founded in 2011 by former investment bankers and HBS grads Daniella Yacobovsky and Amy Jain, BaubleBar is an e-commerce startup that makes fashion jewelry more accessible to the average shopper. The brand has become known for its trendy, inexpensive fashion jewelry and has grown substantially through effective alignment of its business and operating models: industry sources estimate sales of $75 million in 2014, up from $11 million in 2012 (i).
Yacobovsky and Jain designed BaubleBar with one goal in mind: to become the go-to destination for fashion jewelry. With 200% growth in 2014 over the previous year, an average of 1,500 online orders a day, partnerships with retailers like Anthropologie and Nordstrom, and expansions into physical retail on the horizon, they appear to be succeeding (i).
How BaubleBar Came to Be (Video)
Great Selection at an Even Greater Value
Frustrated by the gap between high-end jewelry retailers like Tiffany’s and lower-end discount jewelry stores, Yacobovsky and Jain founded BaubleBar in business school to give women great quality and style at affordable price points. Unlike most retailers that treat fashion jewelry as a high-margin afterthought, BaubleBar focuses only on jewelry, introducing as many as 75 to 100 new styles per week (iii). It also sources its products directly from a large variety of designer partner and sells to consumers without the markup that a middleman or traditional brick-and-mortar retailer would apply to that category.
Encouraging Trial and Repeat Purchasing
As a new private label brand with a lower price point than many established retailers, BaubleBar designed its business model and marketing efforts to encourage that first trial, including offering customers free shipping, free returns, and a small discount on the first purchase. The conversion from trial to repeat purchasing has been strong: of BaubleBar’s repeat purchasers, 70% shop another three or four times, and over 50% shop five times or more (iv). BaubleBar even recently began offering $5 same-day shipping in Manhattan in order to encourage last-minute impulse buys (v).
Low Overhead and Reduced Markups
As an e-commerce site, BaubleBar has been able to eliminate a lot of the overhead that helps account for the traditional retailers’ large markups on fashion jewelry, including rent, salespeople, and holding of inventory. BaubleBar designs its product in-house and works closely with a global network of manufacturing partners in Asia, Italy, South America and the U.S (vi). By stripping out costs and lowering the typical jewelry markup, BaubleBar is able to offer what they describe as a premium product at prices between $20 and $100.
Compressed Supply Chain and Data Analytics
BaubleBar’s consolidated supply chain and ability to use data in real-time are a key part of its value proposition. While traditional retailers buy products seasonally and plan their merchandising calendars up to six months in advance, BaubleBar buys daily and can see jewelry going from design process to being available for sale in as little as 4 weeks. The company’s frequent purchasing helps build relationships with manufacturers who then are more willing to expedite their orders (vii). BaubleBar marries this compressed supply chain with data, analytics, and social media tracking to merchandise and design based on current consumer taste preferences and keep up with the latest trends.
BaubleBar has already begun to establish a presence offline through retailer partnerships as well as pop-up stores. BaubleBar’s offline sales have grown over 475% since last year alone as a result of partnerships with retailers like Anthropolgie and Nordtrom which accounts for 20% of its total business (viii). With the increasing importance of omnichannel retail, creating opportunities for customers to interact with their product in person will be important in building the brand and continuing to scale the business. For example, BaubleBar shoppers, on average, spend three times the amount in physical stores that they spend online (v).
Mobile and Technology
BaubleBar launched a new mobile app in November 2015, taking advantage of the fact that 50% of its traffic was coming from mobile – in fact, its Instagram page was driving more conversion than its homepage (both on desktop and mobile) (ix). The company is also planning a line of wearable tech bracelets in a partnership with Jawbone as well as a collaboration with Target on a line of tech accessories, including headphones and phone cases.
i. Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2015/06/24/online-jewelry-startup-baublebar-to-open-retail-stores/
ii. Inc. http://www.inc.com/30under30/nicole-carter/amy-jain-danielle-yacobovsky-founders-baublebar.html (Video)
iii. Crain’s New York Business http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20140729/TECHNOLOGY/140729849/chris-burch-helps-baublebar-raise-10m
iv. Business Jnsider http://www.businessinsider.com/baublebar-is-becoming-the-first-go-to-destination-for-affordable-jewelry-2013-5
vi. Tech Crunch http://techcrunch.com/2014/07/29/baublebar-raises-10-million-for-its-fast-fashion-jewelry/
vii. Smart CEO http://smartceo.com/baublebars-founders-fulfill-fashion-jewelrys-need-speed/
viii. Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/lydiadishman/2014/03/31/nordstrom-hopes-to-shine-up-sales-with-baublebars-affordable-bling/
ix. Digiday http://digiday.com/brands/baublebar-mobile-edge/
Student comments on BaubleBar: Redefining How Women Shop for Fashion Jewelry
Very interesting post. Love the nicely matching operating model… didn’t know about this.
Love the post Steph, BaubleBar is definitely one of my favorite fashion/retail startups these days. How scalable do you think their business will be once they move into opening physical stores? Also how sustainable do you think this business/operating model will be (from both business growth and customer loyalty perspectives?)
Great questions! I view BaubleBar’s physical stores as an additional touch point to draw in new customers and to drive more people online to purchase. I think the company’s continued growth will definitely come from the online space and that the physical locations, though hopefully profitable on their own, will complement the faster-growing and higher-margin online sales.
Great post Steph. I had never heard of Bauble Bar before this and am somewhat blown away by some of the numbers ($75m in sales!). Whilst I agree that omnichannel is very important in consumer retail these days, I wonder whether the opening of physical stores for this business takes away somewhat from the current alignment of business and operating model. As you say, one of their current advantages is the ability to offer a higher quality product at a lower price point due to their lack of overheads. Also, I think that the data analytics piece becomes somewhat harder to manage when you are talking about sales from physical stores…but then again, Zara seems to do a good job of this and stay on top of consumer trends so hopefully it works for Bauble Bar too
This is great, had never heard of them before. This is a great example of how people get into a business that has players, they arent the first movers but just do it better than the rest with the right choices, offerings and features. inspirational !