In the Box
Apr 05, 2016 03:49PM ● Published by Dia
By Amy Reisner
No one knew the impact Amazon would have on the world of e-commerce when it “opened up shop” in 1994. Now, 22 years later, Amazon sells more than 200 million products. But there’s a new kid on the block: monthly subscription box services. There’s a box for almost everything, from art supplies to Japanese candy. Celebrities are even getting in on the trend. Kate Hudson, Tyler Florence and Giuliana Rancic are just a few A-listers who have launched their own subscription box services.
Many of the services work the same way: sign up for a subscription that renews at various times, and receive your products in the mail. Some allow you to keep all the items; others allow you to purchase online what you want to keep. These boxes have allowed consumers to narrow down their options (with tangible items in hand) but rely on someone else to do the legwork.
To give you an idea of just what kind of options are out there, we’ve peeked inside five different subscription boxes. Let’s take a look.
Health and beauty product shopping has become somewhat of a spectator sport. The market is saturated with moisturizers, bronzers and eyeliners. With so many items to choose from, no wonder it can be overwhelming. And what if your newly chosen leave-in hair treatment ends up treating your tresses badly? You are then left with a nearly full bottle of hair product you’ll never use. Birchbox is a monthly delivery service that allows subscribers to try sample-sized products before making the decision to purchase the full-sized version, making product-shopping overload a thing of the past.
For $10 per month, subscribers receive five personalized beauty samples each month, which are chosen based on their individual beauty profile. (There is also a pre-paid yearly subscription available for $110.) Birchbox ships free every month, so you only pay for the subscription fee and whatever full-sized versions you purchase on the website, which offers more than 6,500 products. You can also shop online without a subscription to the monthly service.
Since its inception in 2010, the company has amassed more than 800,000 active subscribers and reports more than $96 million in sales. Not a bad amount of coin for delivering cosmetics and beauty products to customers’ doorsteps.
Unique Feature: Birchbox Points can be earned every time you shop, invite your friends to subscribe, or share info about your box on social media. Also, subscribers can earn 50 points, or $5, by reviewing all five of their samples on the website.
Everyone could use a healthy dose of spirituality each month, and the people behind Faithbox want to make that happen. The monthly delivery service is made for individuals wanting to strengthen their Christian faith through devotion. The scriptures and inspirational quotes in the daily devotional book, Everyday Faith, are based on a faith-related theme each month. Also included in the monthly box are products from companies that “do good.” These products range from coffee and tea to temporary tattoos and essential oils. Each product is eco-friendly and ethically made for an overall positive vibe. You can purchase a box for $20 (plus $5 shipping) each month, or subscribe to a three-month or yearlong plan for a discounted price per box.
Unique Feature: Every box purchased provides three meals to hungry kids via Faithbox’s Rice Bowls partnership. In 2015, the company donated more than 100,000 meals to hungry kids via Rice Bowls.
Are you the mother of all Pinterest fails? All parents want to stimulate their child’s intelligence through art, science and math using one great project to encompass them all. But after time spent finding said project, who has time to buy all the materials, and then—heaven forbid—what if you forget the glue or tape? Kiwi Crate aims to make learning fun for kids and at the same time, eliminate the hassle for parents.
For a monthly subscription rate of $19.95 per crate (shipping is free), Kiwi Crate will ship a crate to your front door that includes materials and inspiration for projects related to a theme such as music, dinosaurs or colors. Each project is tested by kids to ensure that the various activities are developmentally appropriate, and liked by both boys and girls. Projects may include arts and crafts, science activities and imaginative play, depending on which crate category subscribers choose. There are also three-month, six-month and yearlong subscriptions available (with these options crate costs are discounted and shipping is still free).
Unique Feature: There are different crates for different ages: Koala Crates for ages three to four use inquiry-based learning; Kiwi Crates for ages five to eight use creative science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) projects; Doodle Crate for ages nine to 16+ are designed to build creative confidence through art and design; and, Tinker Crate, also for ages nine to 16+, uses projects to encourage tinkering through science and engineering.
Cats like to keep it fresh. You’ve probably noticed that after a few swats at a cloth mouse, your feline is “over it.” If it’s time to get a new routine for Felix, whether that’s with a new toy or yummy treat, meowbox has you covered. A subscription box solely devoted to cats, meowbox sends five to seven carefully researched toys and other items—including treats—to your feline’s front door.
Picky kitty? The food and treats are either made with natural ingredients, grain-free, organic or locally made. Even pickier kitty? You can request a toy or goodie-filled box sans food items. Sign up for a subscription plan that works best for you: monthly ($32.95 per box), every three months ($27.95 per box) or every six months ($22.95 per box). Shipping is free. Have a dog in your family? BarkBox is the same concept, but for canines.
Unique Feature: The company actively supports animal shelters and rescue groups. With every box purchased, meowbox donates a can of cat food to a shelter cat on the subscriber’s behalf.
Like the idea of a personal stylist, but still dread heading to the department store or boutique every time you need a new outfit or accessory? Stitch Fix is a monthly subscription service devoted to bringing fashion to the masses who want to take the worry out of their wardrobe. The company learns what you like—and what you can live without—and sends you clothes and accessories accordingly.
After signing up, you fill out a Style Profile letting stylists know what you are looking for. They will handpick a selection of five clothing items and accessories that fit your taste, budget and lifestyle. There is a stylist fee each month of $20, but this fee is credited to your account and can be used to purchase the items you wish to keep. You check out online to pay for those items, and for those that didn’t work, you mail back to Stitch Fix in a pre-paid mailing bag. You have three days to complete the process.
Currently, Stitch Fix is for women wearing sizes 0/XS to 14/XL. And the company offers maternity and petite clothing, as well. Stitch Fix works with more than 250 of the best up-and-coming labels and brands such as Citizens for Humanity and Kut From The Kloth. It also sends in-house brands. The items you receive are on average $55 a piece.
Unique Feature: Choose to receive shipments every two to three weeks, every month, every other month, or every three months. However, you can skip an automatic upcoming shipment. After selecting this option on your online account, your subscription will resume as usual for the following shipment.
There’s no doubt about it: Subscription boxes have simplified the way we shop and sample new things. Gone are the days of trekking from store to store and schlepping your purchases back home. We no longer have to visit multiple shops or even discover things on our own. Subscription services deliver the items you need (and the items you don’t even know you need) directly to your doorstep. And as the trend continues to expand into different categories, we’ll have that much more variety, all wrapped up in a cute, compact box. SS