Great execution

I don’t check my bag in while flying to avoid waiting for it at the luggage claim station upon arrival. I prefer to travel with a carry-on.

The downside of using a carry-on is that, since you can access it during the flight, it can’t contain any sharp objects. Because of this restriction, I travel without a razor and rely on hotel razors when I need to shave during a trip.

If you’ve used hotel razors before, you likely know what a dreadful experience they provide. They’re of very poor quality and leave your face cut up in multiple spots after the shave.

I was expecting a similar experience when I called our hotel’s front desk for a razor this morning. However, to my surprise, they sent up a high quality razor. You can see it below. And for the first time, I had a cut-free shave at a hotel. In fact, I had as good a shaving experience with the hotel razor as with my own razor at home.

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The razor is part of a sample set from the Dollar Shave Club. The Dollar Shave Club is a monthly online subscription service that delivers razor blades to your door. They’ve raised a total of $148M in funding, including their most recent $75M Series D.

When I first heard of the Dollar Shave Club a few years ago, I doubted that the company could be successful. I saw it as a service with no product differentiation where the business model differentiation wouldn’t be enough to create a large sustainable business. Although I don’t know the company’s performance metrics, the company’s fundraising to date suggests that I’m likely wrong.

The reason I was wrong is because I didn’t take into account the company’s execution. As my hotel experience shows, the Dollar Shave Club knows what it’s doing. The company correctly identified hotel guests as a customer segment that has a horrible shaving experience and partnered with hotels to improve this experience by offering the company’s sample product. The Dollar Shave Club’s razors may not be differentiated relative to the razor you use at home, but they are differentiated relative to hotel razors. And this produces a memorable customer experience.

I don’t know the underlying customer acquisition cost of the partnership, but the difference between a regular hotel shave and that with a Dollar Shave Club razor is so great that I imagine the sample set has a pretty high customer conversion rate. And even if the Dollar Shave Club is incurring the full cost of providing the sample set (without any participation from the hotel), the cost of producing razors at their current scale is likely pretty low.

The Dollar Shave Club is a great example of how great execution can turn a seemingly undifferentiated product into a genuine pleasure to consume and hence a great business.