Subscription box services: the world through your letterbox

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I don’t know about you, but I’m nearly joining the “units of time” club to keep on track of my daily tasks. Exactly how Nick Hornby’s characters in his novel About a Boy does. The only difference between Will Freeman and I is the fact that I actually have a job.

And I wish I had some extra “units of time” in which I could fit everything that I’d like to do, see and/or buy.

We tend to believe the Internet was created not just for procrastination, but also to help us to simplify our lives. You can browse it for few minutes and have bills paid or holidays booked. Simple as that!

It’s also known that e-commerce and mobile shopping services really have made life easier. Usability, variety of different products and affordable prices; all those facts are real key points of online shopping success. Together with no more long queues; no traffic on a way back home; or madness of seasonal sales too. We save time. Fact!

According to the statistics published in a factsheet by Bpost International in 2014:

The UK is number one in Europe when it comes to e-commerce – leading the way in terms of turnover, proportion of e-commerce in the national economy, penetration of m-commerce, and expenditure per shopper. Moreover, 4 etailers in the top 10 in Europe are based in the United Kingdom. The UK is an exceptionally mature ecommerce market with sales figures that continue to grow: they rose by 16% in 2013 to more than €109 billion.

I could have a gist of it last Black Friday in the company I work for. It was madness. The UK is a nation obsessed with e-commerce. No doubts.

So, if the future of commerce is digital, would it also be a solution to help our lack of spare time problems? Not quite a bit.

Especially when we think about delivery! Yes, we can shop online from food to furniture. But let’s face it, sometimes it’s really necessary to be at home waiting for your new funky fridge or that exclusive dining table.

So things will never fit in your letterbox.

But when a couple of months ago I was introduced to the magic world of subscription box services, I thought that part of my problems was solved.

Getting new beauty products, healthy snacks or even organic seeds (that I don’t really need) delivered monthly at your door step. Hallelujah! Someone finally listened to my prayers.

Subscription services are incredibly popular in the U.S. and it’s a market that is definitely increasing in the UK. The variety of products is just a bonus. From full size products to just samples, you choose and get what you want.

Nowadays, you can practically find anything from this kind of service. This market is huge and companies around the world are being more and more creative when they think about marketing in favour of their products. Graze box is a good example of it.

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I’ve subscribed to Graze for more than one year now, and I keep receiving my delicious nibbles straight through my door religiously. No delays. It’s affordable, tasty and their slim eco-friendly boxes have a really attractive design.

Glossy Box was a box that I really enjoyed subscribing. The designs of their boxes are stunning. The brands are attractive but deliver made things too difficult.

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Unfortunately, the fairy tale didn’t last too long for some other similar subscribed services –most of them related to beauty products – that actually had to be returned to the local post office because they didn’t find me at home or could be just delivered by click and collect services.

The worst case scenario was picking up some of my goods once left with a neighbour that I barely knew. It`s inconvenient and embarrassing to say the least.

So let’s think small. In small purchases, I mean.

Slim versions:  Some companies, such as BirchBox, had a good thought on the size of their boxes, coming up with a slim version that had been well accepted among the subscribers. As well as Allotinabox had the same idea plus, their boxes are 100% recyclable.

To be honest, subscription box services don’t defeat the object of “delivery products at your door”. But it’s obviously impossible to expect a bottle of wine fitting in your letter box. However, there are different ways of programming the date of delivering, anyway.

It`s known there is a gap in the market and some of those businesses have already spotted it. It’s definitely a constantly updated market.

My healthy nibbles really work for me, but getting all samples of new beauty products that I won’t have time to try anyway, will certainly not change my life. It’s just a matter of knowing how to use your precious units of time in things that are really worth it.

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I'm a Brazilian journalist based in West Midlands. In Brazil, I have worked with International Trade and Logistics publications. Now in the UK, I keep writing and I dedicate myself to a new project : Midlands Trade - a blog focused on business in Europe and Brazil. It's also supporting small businesses throughout the #MeetTheBusiness.

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