Prem Thudia

Co-founder and CTO at Vitamin Packs, overseeing the company’s personalized nutrition technology.\

Via Forbes

The past decade has brought a tidal wave in technological advances impacting the traditional retail shopping experience by defining new products and delivery systems and predicting needs-based on artificial intelligence. One of the most significant advances is the retail industry’s ability to go direct-to-consumer (DTC).

The Subscription Box Economy

One study found that visits to subscription box sites increased 3,000% between 2013 and 2016, and the past few years have seen no signs of slowed growth. Liz Cadman, CEO of My Subscription Addiction, told me that her site currently lists 6,500 subscription boxes available to consumers. In my experience, the subscription box model is revolutionizing the traditional shopping experience and it’s all thanks to technology and innovation.

I work in the health and nutrition sector of the subscription box world, so I see first-hand how technology is helping to break down the traditional brick-and-mortar supplement retail shelves. Technology is giving consumers an entirely new experience through three key methods.

Personalization: It’s all about you.

It isn’t a big mystery that if you listen to your consumer, if you get to know them and make the experience all about them, you will be successful. While you’re doing all of this, you’re doing something that a traditional retail store isn’t capable of doing in real time and on a large scale: personalizing the shopping experience.

Whether you’re in the business of making and selling nutritional products, running shoes or luxury cars, your consumer will increasingly want the things that touch their lives to be made for their own unique self. Technology can power this personalization and give you an edge over your competition.

While there isn’t a golden rule to personalization — thanks to technology, it’s continuously evolving — data capture and its analysis (data mining) are informing better choices that are closer to consumer needs. Analyzing data trends is still the way to start. Without that insight, it will be difficult to create the business models that huge companies like Google, Amazon and Facebook deliver.

Customer Service: How can I help you? 

Giving consumers the ability to easily connect with you to ask questions or change their order will put you leaps and bounds above your competition. Technology like chatbots, live videos and social media platforms are redefining the customer service experience by creating more consumer touch points.

In the age of transparency and immediate gratification, consumers want to know everything to the minute. Where did the shirt that I am wearing come from? How is it processed, how is it managed logistically? Consumers are inquisitive and want to be well-informed. If your business can’t keep up, you risk losing customers quickly. The attention span of an online shopper is fleeting due to the vast information available just a few inches from their noses.

A New Delivery

With technology powering the subscription economy, consumers simply open their front door to interact with their purchase. Imagine — or perhaps channel — that feeling of pulling up to your home to see a package (or two, or three) patiently waiting for you to tear into it. You feel like it’s your birthday, but it’s just a mundane Tuesday. And the best part, you ordered it and you know it is delivered monthly, but there’s still thrill in getting that monthly subscription box.

Every action or touch point you have in your business can be converted into pure consumer delight because you have the data to serve up unique experiences. One solution does not always fit all. Therefore, decipher consumer behavior to understand how they want to receive their subscription, when is the best time of day and how you can optimize returns. Technology informing this process usually consists of a combination of a process-driven approach with action to deliver measurable business value. It is optimized based on scale and industry.

Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers should perk up and pay attention to the subscription economy, which is powered by technology that, I predict, will bring down aisles.