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Online Shopping Trends: Subscription Services

Most Popular Subscription Services of 2021: Amazon Prime, Chewy, Walmart+, Dollar Shave Club, Instacart Express, Shipt, HelloFresh, Grove Collaborative, BarkBox, and Thrive Market.

Subscription services became even more popular during the pandemic. As the world begins to open back up, will they remain just as popular?

When the world came to a screeching halt at the beginning of 2020, many people increased their use of online shopping, pickup orders, local delivery, and subscription services. Considering the health risks of shopping in person, online shopping, pickups, and deliveries seem like an obvious substitutions. But why subscriptions?

Subscription services like Amazon Prime (the #1 subscription service in the United States) have multiple benefits like fast shipping, exclusive offers, and access to Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service. Several online stores have options to “subscribe and save” as an alternative to one-time purchases. Subscriptions are becoming more integrated into the way online vendors operate in general. Then, of course, there are companies like Misfits Market, Ipsy, Trade, and KiwiCo, that offer subscription boxes as their main product.

So what is the appeal?

Customization

Most subscription services offer a variety of customizable options. From price range, to frequency of delivery, to personal preferences, customers can get an experience that is completely tailored to their wants and needs.

Fun

There’s a certain thrill that comes from participating in a subscription service. The element of surprise, along with the anticipation of trying unique products is exciting. When the box is delivered, it feels much like opening a gift.

Savings and Convenience

Using subscription services for items customers already regularly purchase (like toiletries, paper goods, cleaning products, and vitamins and supplements) can be a budget-friendly option. The convenience of having these products arrive at your door precisely when needed is certainly a benefit to those with a busy lifestyle.

As fun and convenient as it can be to subscribe to different services, there are some downsides.

Expensive

While subscription services can be helpful for accessing discounts, they can take up a big chunk of the budget. Signing up for subscription services is so easy and fun, many people don’t realize how much money is going to these services. The recurring automatic charge requires no thought, so the service costs can add up quickly.

Too Much Stuff

Subscription boxes that deliver non-consumable goods (like food or skincare items) can result in an excessive amount of items. Subscriptions that offer items like clothing or full size makeup products can quickly become overwhelming, and many of the items may end up donated or piled up as clutter. This is also an example of how subscriptions can do the opposite of save money.

Will subscription services remain popular in a post-pandemic world?

I believe that subscription services will only become more popular in the future. Aside from the benefits outweighing the concerns, subscriptions help companies build relationships with their customers. For customers, I think that the appeal of fine tuning their shopping experience, as well as the ability to cut through an overwhelming amount of options is what will keep them coming back for more.

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