Subscription services have been around for decades; their origins can be traced back to old newspapers, magazines and beauty brands pioneering the concept by delivering their goods to subscribers by mail. Some of you may even remember the Columbia House mail order service, which shipped vinyl records to subscribers during the 70s, 80s and 90s in what was one of the first real successes beyond magazines and newspapers. But what about modern day subscription services and the latest iteration, subscription boxes?
What are Subscription boxes?
Subscription boxes involve a brand charging customers a recurring fee to receive a box of products on a regular (typically monthly) basis. These can be anything from men’s cosmetics, women’s clothing, entertainment products, toys or even gifts for your pets. Subscription box services have been around for a while but they’ve flown under the radar until digital brought them into the light.
It was in 2012 that brands of all varieties began to recognise the demand for subscription services. According to ‘My Subscription Addiction’ (the main online directory for the current subscription market), the number of companies registered and advertising their services rocketed from just 200 in 2012 to 2,000 in 2014, an astonishing 900% increase. Moreover, according to Fast Company, the subscription industry as a whole has an annual growth rate of 200%.
With subscription services enjoying such rapid growth and huge demand, it was only a matter of time before fashion brands got in on the action too, especially with so many of us frequently receiving fashion ordered online. Now, with several fashion subscription brands such as JustFab and Adore Me posting a monthly box of shoes and other items of clothing to their growing subscriber list, the trend has well and truly taken a foothold in fashion.
So what’s driving this exponential growth?
There are a number of digital channels pushing this success forward.
As with many things in today’s day and age, social media is a vital cog in the subscription fashion machine. Sites such as Instagram and Pinterest have their own designated hashtags and pins, which are followed by a wide audience, and over 35 per cent of Millennial women say they’re swayed by social media fashion influencers.
Due to these platforms’ ‘sharing culture’ and, in particular, Instagram and Pinterest’s visual focus, social media offers the perfect arena for subscription fashion to become the new trend and spread like wildfire. Customers scroll through their feed, stumble across the latest post from a subscription box brand, and they’re on the path to a sale. Fast, frictionless and easy to understand, it’s a perfect form of shopping for our micro moment world.
In 2015, 52.8% of all subscription box site visits in the US came from mobile phones. This is because the fashion purchase journey through mobile has never been easier. Customers now have a wealth of information, images and swift payment options that can result in an order being placed within a couple of taps. The mCommerce revolution has arrived at the perfect time for subscription fashion and, as Hitwise’s John Fetto explains, it will continue to be a driving force behind its growth.
“A majority of visits to subscription box sites come from mobile devices,” Fetto said. “The reason for mobile’s above average visit share can likely be attributed to two main factors. [First] subscription box shoppers are more educated, wealthy and tech-savvy which means that they’re among those who turn first to their mobile device as opposed to a desktop.
“[Secondly] consumers of all stripes are increasingly accessing email from a mobile device and subscription box sites rely heavily on email to communicate with their customers whether that’s to provide shipping information and other transactional details or seeking feedback on the curated selections for the upcoming or previous deliveries.”
Again, it comes down to a fast and frictionless experience. Subscription boxes work because they take advantage of the desire for that and feed into it: creating the demand and providing the supply.
If you read our blog you’ll know that personalisation is a hot topic that’s on the lips of brands across industries such as travel and consumer finance. Personalisation is one of the key steps in building a loyal customer base: after all, it’s common sense that customers respond better to a product that is more personal to them. Some subscription fashion brands have picked up on this and tailor a specific box to send a customer based on their preferences – a tactic that’s proven a resounding success.
Finding that success isn’t always easy though. How can fashion brands capture their site visitors’ preferences if the visitor isn’t registered or is a first time buyer? This is where Customer Journey Optimisation through semantic analysis of content can help. Semantic analysis of content assesses every action on every page, and by doing so it can help generate a richer set of data that can be used to tailor the product to individual customers’ needs. This ultimately increases brands’ chances of converting potential customers into subscribers and therefore boosting revenue.
While online shopping has made our lives easier and more convenient, it’s not without its constraints. You don’t get the chance to sample new items that you wouldn’t usually buy, even though given the opportunity you may like it. This is what subscription services are all about. Yes, you pay your fee for your box of surprises (tailored to your taste, of course), but you also receive that style of shoe you have never been brave enough to actually try, and who knows… you may end up loving it.
Subscription fashion is all about broadening your horizons. It’s not going to overtake mainstream online shopping but it’s something different and more personal to customers. This is perhaps its biggest unique selling point and the reason it continues to surge in popularity amongst fashion lovers.
If you think mporium ENGAGE can benefit your brand then do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist with any queries you may have.