Special Delivery! The Rise of the Box

Special Delivery! Subscription-based retail delights both customers and brands. Customers are often on autopilot when it comes to shopping for their weekly staples. Both traditional brick-and-mortar and online retail giants are great at providing customers easy access to the things that are regularly on their shopping lists.

Shopping, however, isn’t just utilitarian for some. For product junkies, shopping is also about the hunt for new and different products: things you may not have considered or have known about for various reasons. This desire for novelty, combined with personalization and convenience, is the impetus for the growing ecommerce model that is subscription boxes.

These days, it seems like there’s a subscription box for everything. Love make-up? There’s a box for that. Looking to bond with your child? There’s a box for that. Need to tame your beard? There’s a box for that too. There are even services out there that can help others start their own box businesses.

Growing up, one of my favorite shopping experiences was going to the local drug store with my dad, where he’d purchase me a kids “grab bag:” A surprise selection of goodies mysteriously packaged in a brown paper sack. Most of the time, I was delighted by my unforeseen bounty. Sometimes, however, I was just very disappointed.

That is what’s so great about today’s subscription boxes: all of the thrill, none of the fill. What’s not to love about a monthly surprise delivery of goods curated just for you? With an array of products and price points available, customers can easily incorporate both impulse purchasing and trial buying into their budgets. According to one Ipsy subscriber, “I tend to wait for the subscription to come, and generally just buy products I know from my delivery when shopping in-store.”

Customers aren’t the only ones who are benefitting. The box is a subscription-based model, which provides consistent revenue streams, which is–of course–good for business. When retailers focus on single products, sales can fluctuate wildly from month-to-month. By leveraging loyal customers via subscriptions, income becomes steady and predictable. Further, brands partnering with box businesses get their products into the hands of shoppers who otherwise may never have given the product a try.

Retailers such as Target and Amazon are incorporating subscription services into their ecommerce experiences, capitalizing on the convenience that shoppers love about boxes. Independent box businesses continue to grow, however, and until traditional retailers can offer the kind of curated personalization that speaks to these customers, boxes will continue to charm the hearts and wallets of customers around the globe.

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