Subscription box service

Most of us are shopping addicts. The first thing people think about spending weekends or when they get a pay check is how they can escape to that mall and be part of the shopping frenzy. checks out the subscription box.


Although most of us enjoy shopping for clothes and trying them on, there are those who remain shopping challenged, are restricted by schedules or are economically restrained.


That’s when someone comes knocking on the door with a subscription box. Subscription box services are marketing solutions used by retail companies, mostly ecommerce businesses, giving people with different backgrounds an access to a wider range of products. The overall global market size of subscription box services is still unknown due to minimal data available and the growing stage of the industry.


What’s this service?

While this delivery service system is still at a nascent stage in India, the idea has picked up in the United States of America and other parts of the world. So, how does this really work?


Top-notch brands and ecommerce companies cater to niche markets by offering curated new clothes and other retail products to customers, depending on their personal preferences. There is also an element of surprise attached with the box. Some companies provide pre-assembled hampers instead of asking customers to select their own products, eliminating decision fatigue in the process.


The reason this box service is catching up is because shipments are sent each month to customers, or as per the policies employed by individual retail companies. This provides customers the thrill of opening the package, just like on any special occasion. Generally, prices of each packaged box range from US$ 10 to US$ 100, which roughly translates to Rs 645 to Rs 6,450.


Darby Smart, a US-based online subscription box company, offers do-it-yourself (DIY) kits assembled by a huge community of designers, giving an option of mixing latest fashion with home trends on fingertips. Customers have to go through a string of instructions provided under the DIY project, which gives them their own sense of personal fashion style. According to Fortune, Darby Smart has 2,000 designers and attracts 100,000 unique monthly visitors. Some other online companies that are part of the $ 29 billion craft supplies industry are Whimsy box, For the Makers and Brit + Co.


Threat to tradition department stores

While boxed subscription services don’t pose a major threat to traditional retailers, the solution could be seen as a viable option offered by departmental stores. “This [box service] is definitely supplemental, not a replacement for [traditional retail],” says Nikki Baird, managing partner at Retail Systems Research (RSR). “[As a retailer] why go to the hassle of having someone schedule time and take up prime shopping hours, when you could just deliver it to their house and let them try things on at their leisure?” she added.


Luxury brands explore

Time was when a top movie star introduced a luxury fashion trend, and viewers would be in awe about the clothing line. Times have changed. Now, with people having a high disposable income, combined with the expansive use of social media, both the factors have pushed the luxury fashion industry to change its course and become more accessible to the wider, global range of customers. Also, the luxury industry used to have a tighter control of brand image, but as the social media buzz sprang up around the world, they have become more susceptible to customers’ voices, trends, opinions and overall outlook. Customers are now controlling online dialogue.


Social media, a threat to luxury brands?

With the advent of social media, we have seen the rise of influencers in different industries who, despite being unknown to the celebrity world, have a swath of followers interested in their reviews of products. This has also given customers confidence of discussing, and even criticising top-notch luxury fashion brands on well-known social platforms with greater outreach, which really sway the choices of their peers who are expecting to buy those brands. According to a Deloitte report, the social media has levelled the playing field, “putting more power in the hands of consumer with a platform that enables them to shop on their terms, when and where they want, while providing price transparency.”


The report states that increased available information about brands has boosted expectations of customers regarding price and value, which severely undermines exclusivity. Elizabeth Canon, founder and president of Fashion’s Collective, said that luxury brands have been scrutinising the likely impacts of social media. “Should a luxury brand have a Facebook page? How should they collaborate with bloggers? How should brands translate their offline store experience to an immersive web store?” Canon said.


The other side of social media

While the reach of customers around the world has increased due to the presence of social media, luxury brands can use the same channels to roll out new products globally. This can instantly quench the desires of customers, who earlier had to wait for fashion lines to arrive on their market scene. For example, Instagram, which is fully loaded with visuals, makes the social app a great place for luxury brands.


According to the Deloitte report, luxury brand Michael Kors first used Instagram in 2013, and that brand saw its followers increase 16 times. Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Nike all have profiles on Instagram with millions of followers. Other brands that have quickly adapted to use the internet and build social media presence are Coach, Kate Spade and Tory Burch. Also, social media can work in favour of luxury brands, as customers are compelled to share a brand’s news with others through online platforms or word of mouth, which ultimately results into evangelism of the brand. Another reason social media cannot be ignored is that people who use social platforms are also inclined to online shopping and luxury brands have to be part of this global phenomenon for future growth and survival.