Earlier this year, we asked: What’s Ahead for the Subscription Box Service? Now, we have more information to answer that question. According to recent research, subscription box services yield mixed results.

So, what exactly are subscription boxes? According to Jameson Morris, an expert in this the field: “A subscription box is a recurring, physical delivery of niche-oriented products packaged as an experience and designed to offer additional value on top of the actual retail products contained in a box.”


Subscription Box Services Yield Mixed Results

Yes, some subscription box services are doing much better than others. And the industry itself is in a state of flux.

One leader is Stitch Fix, “the personal style service that evolves with your tastes, needs, and lifestyle.” How does it work?

First,”Share your style, size, and price preferences with your personal stylist.” Second, “Request A Fix® Delivery. And get 5 hand-selected pieces of clothing delivered to your door. With no subscription required.” Third, “Buy what you like, send back the rest. Shipping is free and easy both ways. When you sign up for automatic deliveries, we’ll send you regular orders without extra effort from you. You choose how often that’s right for you: every 2-3 weeks, every month, every other month, or every three months.”

As eMarketer reports: “In fact, while some subscription box companies struggle to stay afloat, Stitch Fix’s number of active clients jumped nearly 10 times to 2.2 million as of July 29. Furthermore, a study from Hitwise found that online traffic in the subscription box space declined by 3% in September compared with a year prior. But Stitch Fix’s traffic didn’t: It more than doubled during that same period.”

The chart shows the subscription box leaders.

Subscription box services yield mixed results. Let's see who are doing best -- and who are struggling.


J.C. Penney Enters Subscription Box Marketplace

As with many other department store chains, J.C. Penney wants to embark on new activities. Why? To help turn around sales revenues. As a result, it is testing a subscription service. Will it succeed? Time will tell.

eMarketer reports that:

J.C. Penney has teamed with Bombfell, a men’s subscription service, to offer curated boxes to its Big & Tall customers. The service will work as many other subscription box services do. A stylist will curate several pieces based on customer preferences. But this partnership will offer Big & Tall sizes — something Penney specializes in — s well as pricing intended to undercut typical subscription box services.”

“Said eMarketer analyst Yory Wurmser, ‘As shopping moves online or to discount chains, mid-tier department stores need to find ways to differentiate their brand and create stickiness. A subscription service is one way. But I don’t see it as a game-changer. Instead, as a sign that the chain is thinking creatively about consumer behavior.'”


16 Replies to “Subscription Box Services Yield Mixed Results”

  1. Subscription boxes are a really interesting concept to me because the way so many of them are set up is based on customization. JC Penny going for a niche market of big and tall shoppers is pretty brilliant because although they’re dealing with a narrower segment than Stitch Fix, they’ll be able to more aggressively target and market to potential subscribers.

  2. Subscription boxes are an interesting idea because of the options and customization that each customer has access too. It also gets sent to their home and allows customers to not be required to go to the store making it convenient. I think J.C. Penny attacking a niche market is smart as they can penetrate the market easier and may even fly under the radar in this market, even though it is a well known company.

  3. I find subscription boxes are a fun idea. You can really focus in on a niche market and those who are enthusiastic will continue with the subscription. Like Blue Apron, It can attract people who want to learn to cook, or just want to change it up!

  4. I don’t think JC Penney should do this. JC Penney’s brand has been dead for quite some time and their consumer base has shrunk significantly. Consumers sign up for subscription boxes they like. The cosmetics industry is worth billions of dollars so no wonder boxes like ipsy do well! Hello Fresh and Blue Apron do well because it’s all about convenience and cooking. Cooking is trendy and in right now, but sadly, JCP is long gone!

  5. I personally love subscription boxes. I think they’re a great idea to get people to try new products that they wouldn’t usually buy. I do not however think that JCP introducing a subscription box would help their sale. Nor do I think that someone would ever find JCP interesting enough to order a subscription box from.

  6. In my opinion, I believe subscription boxes are a brilliant concept. JC Penny may help their current sales. I agree with J Doria, that it would really focus in on their niche market. In doing this the company will more aggressively target the bigger and taller target market.

  7. With the amount of subscription boxes out there on the market, the competition has surely grown immensely since the concept was first introduced. To men’s and women’s fashion to food products, there is a subscription box for everybody

  8. I love subscription boxes when they come from particular stores and I am able to get sample size perfumes, lotions, and other products that they have recently released. I am not convinced that subscription boxes will help improve sales for JC Penney, as they simply have so many products that I would rather order a subscription box from a particular brand that they carry, and not through the department store itself.

  9. Subscription boxes is a very new idea to me. I have never heard of this before, and it is very interesting. Subscription box to me is more like a service than a product. Even though this may cost extra logistics activities, but this service increases the chance for people to make a purchase even if they don’t really need anything. This is doing what a sales person needs to do. Even though I like the idea, I don’t like the way that every time I have to waste time on returning thing while making a purchase.

  10. The subscription service will be a wonderful experience for customers when the supplier understand the customer’s taste. In my point of view, it will be a main trend for more companies to provide subscription service.

  11. I am personally a long time subscription box user, although I stopped receiving them a couple of months ago for money reasons. I think it is a great idea since you never know what you will be receiving, and the surprise can make someone feel special each month. I feel they are very similar to the mystery box figures, since you know generally what it will be, but you will still keep buying even if you didn’t get what you wanted the first time.

  12. The subscription box service is interesting, but definitely falls under a luxury item tab. I believe that they will do well as the economy grows and more poorly if it retracts. JC Penny should definitely invest in the field, as the cost of missing out far exceeds the cost of entry, in their case.

  13. I find the idea of implementing a subscription box service ot be intriguing and while it may or may not succeed in the long run, there is not much risk involved. Since JC Penny’s is attempting to increase revenue, there is no reason not to try and implement a creative way to do so.

  14. The subscription box thing is a great idea for the short term but the business model won’t last. What happens if you are spending all your money as a young up and comer in the world of business and then oh crap! You need a shirt for tonight! Its a formal event. A big dinner with your boss but your box hasn’t come yet and the last box was kinda pricy and you kept all the items and now you had deal out some change for that and can’t afford the shirt you need for tonight. Skip a meal. Gonna tank and be another fad.

  15. Subscription boxes are a helpful way to market products and are attractive to consumers because they look forward to customizable items they will receive once a month or periodically depending how they set it up. They have something to look forward to and although the returning part may be annoying it is not super inconvenient because it is free shipping.

  16. I’ve never used a subscription box before but the concept sounds appealing. I probably would never use it because I like to keep up with the fashion trends and pick my own products, but I know one of my friends who would benefit from this kind of service. In fact, he fits the exact profile that JC Penny is trying to market to. Targeting males is a sensible choice because I believe that many males (but not all!) are not interested in shopping, and they don’t learn how to shop. By having a subscription service, they can improve their image with a personal stylist without having to do any work!

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