Subscription Shopping: Fad or the Future?

Buying online has never been easier for the consumer

Lazy shoppers have never had it so good. Thanks to e-commerce, consumers have been making purchases without moving their butts for years. But a wave of new subscription startups want to take care of the selection process too.

Yes, Fruit-of-the-Month and similar clubs have been around for decades. But the latest services take advantage of the Web by automating and curating an endless range of purchases.

Hoseanna, which ships monthly must-have toiletries, cuts to the chase with a tagline that says it's "the Netflix of nuisance products." Shoppers can also get beauty products from Birchbox, kids' activity materials from Kiwi Crate, shoes from ShoeDazzle, green goods from blissmo, and more.

While subscription e-commerce is attracting millions of venture dollars, its long-term prospects aren't clear. Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, for one, notes that customer acquisition is a challenge, and historically subscription services have depended on consumers simply forgetting to cancel.

Still, Phineas Barnes, a venture capitalist behind the trend, says, "People are overwhelmed with choice…[To] make it easier to navigate this landscape is a massive opportunity."