23andMe is moving out of the home and into the mall.
The popular at-home DNA testing company just opened its first store, a new Bloomberg story reveals, launching a pop-up retail shop at the Westfield Valley Fair mall in Santa Clara, California, on October 1.
Now, rather than going online to order one of the company’s DNA testing kits, which cost between $99 and $199, and waiting for it to arrive via mail, shoppers can visit the physical location to pick up a kit and talk to company representatives about DNA testing.
This added convenience could help 23andMe learn how to better serve its customers, the company’s CEO Anne Wojcicki told Bloomberg.
“I want to know what my customers think, and this is a great way of doing it,” she said. “What are people thinking about? What are they worried about? What are they excited about? Where does it go from here?”
The shop will remain open through January, and while it may be 23andMe’s first retail location, Wojcicki suspects that it won’t be the last.
“In the future, I think that there’s all kinds of in-person experiences that would be valuable to customers,” she told Bloomberg. “We’ll see what the experience is like.”
While shoppers might see at-home DNA tests as a fun gift for the holidays, the industry is fraught with controversy. The tests themselves are often later proven to be inaccurate, and the companies collecting all this DNA data regularly share it with third parties — a practice they’re seldom forthcoming about.
Still, some of the collaborations between at-home DNA testing companies and researchers have yielded valuable scientific findings — and if 23andMe’s foray into brick-and-mortar sales grows its database significantly, we could see even more impressive research in the future.
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READ MORE: 23andMe Hits the Mall Ahead of the Holiday DNA-Testing Rush [Bloomberg]
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