Pay Only For What You Keep

 

In 1926, the Book-of-the-Month Club started with only a few thousand subscribers. By 1951, it had sold 100 million books. The business model worked then, and it works now.

Clothing retailers have wholeheartedly embraced the subscription model, and why not?

  • It allows customers to try on clothes before buying.
  • It’s a regular revenue stream, not a single transaction.
  • Sellers are always looking for the next trendy business model.

The idea is simple: we pay only for what we keep, and send back the rest.

The upsides

The anticipation of getting the box and the excitement of opening it both work on our emotions at our small child level – think of the gifts that came to us on birthdays and Christmas when we were kids.

The surprise factor. We don’t know what will be inside the box, which appeals to our curiosity.

The personal touch, where style experts curate items specially for us. Psychologists say this “specialness” enhances our self-esteem.

The downsides

Once we have something, it’s easier to keep than return. Companies know we will keep and pay for things sent to us that we wouldn’t otherwise buy. With subscription services, we buy more clothes than we would otherwise.

Our choices are limited to picking from their choices. We do not get to choose from all manufacturers or styles. And we shouldn’t be shocked to learn there are items these services want to push, which is sometimes the stuff they can’t move through other outlets.

We pay more. Of course, the shipping is “free” – sorta. Actually, it’s built into the price of the clothing.

And except at the very high end of subscription services, our “personal clothing stylist” is likely to be a low-paid cubicle worker.

Anything else?

Over time, our personalized algorithms will produce closets full of narrowed-down lookalikes. In other cases, our “specially-chosen” items will be the same things everyone else “must have.”

Yes, clothing subscription services are easier and can be fun – if we don’t mind paying more money for fewer choices.

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