The Case for Subscription Services
In our last article entitled “Traditional Retail and the Shift to Online Shopping”, we discussed some of the key challenges customers and businesses are facing with the existing retail store model, and how online shopping services are helping to bridge the gap.
In this post, we wanted to focus a bit more on online shopping services, and specifically subscription services. We discussed in detail the advantages and disadvantages of B&M services, now let’s get into subscription service offerings.
To be fair, not every service is perfect. There are some disadvantage to online retail shopping and subscription services.
Online merchant mistrust
There are a couple of key reasons why people still don’t shop online: merchant mistrust and the inability to physically experience a product.
With so many data breaches being reported, some at large reputable department stores, customers are more wary of sharing their private information with online businesses. Target’s 2013 data breach is estimated to have affected 41 million customers.
Inability to feel the product
One key disadvantage with the current online shopping experience as a whole is the inability to feel your product. You most likely want to try that dress on, see how it looks on you, and feel the fabric. It looks great in the model photos but we all have different bodies and curves.
One way customers can overcome this issue is by doing their research. Do a lot of research on your product, inspect photos, watch videos, read reviews and study sizing information. If it’s at a great discount online, you can also visit a local retailer to see how it feels, fits, and still make your purchase online if they don’t price match.
An excited shopper hates delayed gratification, they tend to prefer retail, because they don’t have to wait to receive their purchases. You see something you love, you buy it and you can wear it the very same day.
With online shopping, you have to set your expectations that you will likely have to wait, but always consider the shipping time the business is offering. Do they have next day shipping, is it at a premium?
Finally, ensure online merchants have a flexible return policy. You’re not trying on your product so you have to be sure you can return it hassle-free.
Subscription service advantages
Having discussed the disadvantages, what are some of the key benefits of subscription services?
Whether you’re a nursing stay-at-home mom or a full-time employee, you are probably lacking one thing in your life, time. You spend much of your time taking care of your work or other people and have very little time for yourself. This is where the convenience factor comes in, when you account for time spent traveling to and from stores to not find the item you’re looking for, due to scarcity or lack of sizing. That is time you cannot afford; that is time you could have spent with your family, friends, or by yourself doing something you love. Customers have to ask themselves, what is the cost of convenience?
Another major benefit of subscription services is cost. Because some online merchants have online only presence, their price is relatively lower than traditional retail. They don’t have to keep up with the rental expense of having large retail stores in high traffic location (malls, plazas, etc.), and the support that goes with operating it.
More importantly, what matters to you, the customer, is the price plan offering. And no matter the reasons or business model, if a company is able to provide you a better service for the same quality brand name products and at a lower price, why wouldn’t you take it? Not every customer cares solely about price, but when factored with convenience, you start to see the benefits. ‘I get to save money and time, now we’re talking!’
More likely than not, you live in a densely populated urban or metro area. The cost of living and habitable space is shrinking by the day in major cities. The Financial Post reports an average condominium in the Greater Toronto Area was 892 square feet in May 2007, but shrunk to just 789 square feet by May 2015, this according to data supplied by Altus Group to the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). Unfortunately, this directly translates to less closet and storage space for your items, and in a country like Canada where all four seasons are apparent, you need all the space you can get to accommodate your attire.
If you can keep only what you’re wearing at the time and recycle the rest, wouldn’t that be a life saver! Instead of having 25 bags tucked away in your closet never to be used, why not have only 2-3 that you use regularly and swap them out whenever you’re done with them for different ones. Keep more space for yourself, and keep receiving newer items.
A key advantages of subscription services is the recycling of clothes or accessories. According to EDGE consumers throw away shoes and clothing, an average of 70 pounds per person, annually. A few communities have textile recycling programs, about 85% of this waste goes to landfills where it occupies about 5% of landfill space and the amount is growing.
All this waste can be avoided if consumers are more conscious about the waste associated with each purchase. The purchase of goods is still necessary; it’s still very difficult to rely solely on subscription services for your everyday fashion needs. So if you’re planning to keep an item long-term, buy-it and do your best to recycle or donate clothing (as oppose to throwing them in waste bins). However, if you’re the type of person that likes to update your wardrobe regularly, subscription services will help you and reduce fashion waste.
One last key advantage of subscription services is staying on-top of the latest fashion trends. New styles are unveiled almost every season, and it becomes very difficult for the urban consumer to keep up without over-spending, and constantly throwing away old clothes to make space for the new.
Subscription services allow you to keep updating your wardrobe without breaking a sweat. You simply sign-up and wait for your order to deliver over a recurring period. How easy is that?