Curated & Convenient: Why Subscription Boxes Are Still A Hot Commodity
Updated: 8.18.16 Ecommerce

Curated & Convenient: Why Subscription Boxes Are Still A Hot Commodity

By: Lindsey Carman

With the emergence of the subscription service industry — “subcom” for short — customers can get just about anything delivered right to their door every month, including beauty products and geeky collectibles. Amir Elaguizy, the founder of the subscription platform Cratejoy, has seen the subscription industry grow at a rate of 200% annually since 2011.

By being flexible, convenient, exclusive, and surprising, subscription boxes remain a profitable player in the e-commerce sector.

4 Reasons Subscription Boxes Are Still Popular

Despite lacking brick-and-mortar capabilities, such as in-person customer service and the look and feel of a store, subscription services have created ways to make each subscription feel personalized, enticing, and addicting. Below are 4 reasons subscription boxes will remain relevant in the retail industry.

1. There are no strings attached.

Most subscription services give their customers the option to pay as they go sign up for specific plans. For example, BarkBox has options for 1-, 3-, 6- or 12-month plans and free shipping.

If a subscriber feels like skipping a month, many services won’t charge a cancellation fee and even for an allow opt-in the following month. By creating a subscription that can come and go according to the consumer’s schedule, the box-of-the-month model feels truly customized and non-commital.

2. It’s as convenient as it gets.

Running to the store wears on customers, and it’s increasingly unnecessary with the convenience of online shopping growing every year. Shoppers are attracted to having necessities (and, of course, fun extras) delivered to their homes, and subscription boxes offer just that.

Club W, a company that delivers select wine choices, saves consumers from making a much-needed wine run to the store. The company ups the ante by giving subscribers the opportunity to try new wines otherwise not available. Combining convenience with rare items has been a winning recipe for popular subscription boxes.

A photo of Club W subscription box

Subscription boxes satisfy a wide selection of niches, such as those who love wine.

3. Exclusivity entices membership.

Sure, members can sometimes find the same beauty products at the store that they would get if they subscribed to Birchbox or ipsy, but what about geeky gadgets and man-cave things? OwlCrate and Man Crates offer exclusive products that’ll make any Doctor Who fan or beer drinker jump for joy.

Most subscription services deliver one-of-a-kind products that consumers can’t get anywhere else, and these exclusive items attract memberships. Satisfying a basic need — such as an item shoppers can’t get it anywhere else — is enough to drive up sign-ups.

4. The “surprise” factor stirs up anticipation.

Who doesn’t love waiting for a monthly box of goodies to arrive at his or her front door? Getting new products every month is an exciting feeling for any consumer, and most shoppers enjoy having a new box arrive at their home, filled with indulgences. Ipsy, a subscription service that sends out trial-size beauty products every month, is great at building up anticipation every month.

After consumers take a quick beauty quiz, ipsy will send new products and brands in each box — and they’ll never know exactly what they’ll get. Subscription boxes give a unique sense of surprise compared to shopping at brick-and-mortar stores, which is an upper-hand in piquing anyone’s interest.

Subscription Boxes Aren’t Going Anywhere

Although the newness of subscription boxes has died down, the subcom industry still thrives with new niche services on the scene. Brands create a unique shopping experience when they focus on a specific hobby, want, or need, then add a personalized touch.

Amir has seen subscription businesses generate $5 billion in revenue in 2014 alone, so as long as consumer desires are met with convenience, exclusivity, and surprises, subscription services will continue to thrive.