There are 5.7 million subscription box shoppers in the U.S., and monthly visits to subscription box sites have grown 3,000% over the past 3 years. Despite the size and growth of this segment, 90% of apparel retailers (most of whom do not offer subscriptions) don’t consider subscription services a threat to their business, according to our new Fashion Shopping Focus Report.
Perhaps that’s why apparel accounts for only 16% of all those site visits, according to Hitwise. Apparel companies have been slow to get into the subscription game. But consumer attitudes, especially a willingness to embrace new delivery and shopping models, should compel more apparel retailers and brands to get on board.
As this article noted, “Subscription companies don’t create new types of products, they are creating a new way to sell existing types of products. Subscriptions don’t change what consumers want, subscriptions get consumers to look at existing products in a new way.”
I am Exhibit A in that regard. I never believed that subscription services were for me until I had my first child. The moment I ran out of diapers and wipes I signed up for Amazon Prime. I now receive monthly shipments of baby supplies through Subscribe & Save and I never need to make an emergency trip to the drug store. Honestly, I don’t know how I’d have survived without it.
Why should apparel retailers consider subscriptions? They are mutually beneficial for retailers and consumers. Subscription models provide all the facets of the modern shopping experience in addition to satisfying the shopper’s thirst for new merchandise. Retailers benefit by leveraging the shopper data it collects, and delivering the precise products she wants. Better yet, that shopper tends to be more receptive to hearing from you and provide you with even more information about themselves. After all, they want the products you send them to be tailored just to them. The most successful of these retailers benefit from recurring revenue and strengthened customer relationships.
Automation and personalization are becoming integral parts of the shopping experience, and are key tenets of the subscription model. Thankfully, when AI-based personalization is built into the commerce platform, it’s exponentially easier for retailers achieve this.
It can be argued that the subscription space is over saturated and that customers are fatigued from all the options. (Just check out MySubscriptionAddiction.com, a five-year old review site generating 10 million pageviews a month) However, I believe this market has a lot of headroom, especially for apparel retailers, and presents a prime opportunity for established retailers and startups. Sophisticated artificial intelligence tools, interactive virtual reality, and an increasing focus on unified shopping are just a few of the areas that retailers may begin to experiment with as they curate a more personalized and automated shopping experience for their customers. As a subscription convert, I look forward to seeing more apparel brands get in the game.
The subscription market, and much more, is covered in our new Fashion Shopping Focus Report. Download it today!