The popularity of subscription shopping services continues to grow, thanks to the unique mix of convenience and the feeling of receiving a gift or surprise on a recurring basis. This is according to Royal Mail’s annual Delivery Matters study.

Almost half (44 per cent) of UK online shoppers now subscribe to some kind of subscription delivery service. This is a marked increase from 34 per cent in 2019. In an average month, shoppers receive three deliveries from a retailer they have a delivery subscription with. Almost one in ten (8%) have a regular subscription box service. Food (31%), shaving products (24%) and clothing (22%) are the most popular subscriptions.

Four in five shoppers consider it's important for their subscription box to fit through a letterbox. This has given rise to a host of packaging innovations in the sector including letterboxable flower bouquets from Bloom & Wild and brownie boxes from Lola’s Cupcakes.

47 per cent subscribe to these services for price, 41 per cent for convenience, 39 per cent for a treat and 18 per cent as gifts.

A New Way of Consuming

The idea of receiving a surprise gift through the letterbox once a month or more is proving too much for many Brits to resist.

Many more of us now organise the week’s meals by subscribing to companies that provide ingredients and instructions for a series of delicious dishes and treats. Clever packaging means that perishable foodstuffs are kept fresh in special ice packs.

Others get monthly gift boxes of make up and skin care in order to keep looking their best. Still more sign up to regular deliveries of everyday practicalities such as shaving items.  

Judith Katz, founder of The Magic Ink Pot, said: “We have seen an increase in subscriptions to our Letters from Fairyland, particularly over lockdown.  Given everything that's happened this year, our customers - mostly parents and grandparents - have been looking for ways to bring a little bit of magic back into children's lives.  A letter from a favourite fairy-tale character seems to fit the bill!”

Becky Avery, Owner and Founder of Hazel & Blue, said: “I have noticed a significant increase in our seasonal candle subscription boxes, particularly due to the current situation. Customers are looking for a thoughtful gift for their loved ones, friends and family. I have also seen an increase in orders from corporate companies recently as they look to say ‘Thank you’ to their colleagues for their work over the last year.”

Emily Atkinson, Founder of The Beautiful Book Company said: “We've seen a dramatic increase in our subscriber numbers this year since the start of lockdown back in March. Our business has really connected with customers as a way to look after friends and family who are self-isolating. Our personalised book subscriptions are a tangible way to reach out and show someone that you care, whilst providing them with a little bit of escapism in what has been a difficult time for many.  The ability to send books through the post with contactless delivery from Royal Mail is an added benefit of our model.”

Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail, said: “With online shopping habits changing, it’s important for retailers to ensure repeat business and customer loyalty. Offering a subscription service is a really effective way of doing this. It’s all about seizing opportunities that the new normal has presented, and delivering what consumers want. British shoppers continue to put their trust in the knowledge, expertise and reassurance of the Royal Mail brand.”

In 2019, Royal Mail launched The UK Subscription Box Boom Report including an in-depth look at the subscription box economy. It is forecast to be valued at £1 billion by 2022 This can be downloaded here: https://www.royalmailgroup.com/en/press-centre/press-releases/royal-mail/in-five-years-time-royal-mail-s-subscription-box-report-unveils-key-trends-for-success-in-the-market/

Source: Royal Mail