Manhattan-based startup BarkBox – the BirchBox for pooches – has announced two new initiatives which seem guaranteed to keep its burgeoning popularity amongst dog owners heading safely skyward. While most e‑commerce analysts can testify that many online vendors have augmented their internet sales with pop-up shops (Bonobos and Warby Parker among them), BarkBox is imaginatively innovating its online presence to keep its subscribers firmly hooked.
Over the last couple of weeks, it’s launched “PuppyFeed” (a photo-sharing forum that lets subscribers post adorable photos of their adorable puppies) and a new iPhone app which, unlike the main online site, lets users buy individual items rather than just the pre-packaged boxes of dog-goodies. It also lets them rate or revise items already in their boxes, as well as giving them access to BarkBox news to read and letting them buy BarkBox gift subscriptions. Even the most worldly-wise ecommerce analyst would concede that these are pretty clever enticements.
CEO and founder Matt Meeker (who co-founded Meetup.com and Wee Web) set BarkBox up in 2011 and openly declares that, as someone who shares a little bit of doggie obsession with millions of Americans, he believed a subscription-based model for dog gifts would fly. And boy, was he right. His startup now has 105,000 subscribers and has seen its revenue expand ten-fold in 2013 alone to around $2 million a month.
Subscribers receive a monthly box of five to seven doggie-friendly delights and it’s clear that Meeker is now seeking to build an independent community of dog lovers on BarkBox. Speaking about PuppyFeed, he told VentureBeat:
“Every month we get flooded with photos and videos from owners. We want to harness that excitement. PuppyFeed is giving people a tool to share their dogs with us and each other, and gives them a way to communicate. It is stitching our community together, and tightening those relationships will lead to more customers all around.”
The app which was also launched is the first step toward a full m‑commerce BarkBox storefront, and more features will soon be added, including push notifications informing subscribers when their box was shipped and when it arrives at the front door.
No matter how seasoned an ecommerce analyst you might be, you’ve got admit it, this guy knows how to make ecommerce work.