Subscription Boxes-Membership-Loyalty programs are on the rise. Think Amazon Prime, Netflix, REI, Cost-Co, Sams and Blue Apron. Entrepreneur, Fortune, Forbes and Retail Wire have all written about the subscription model since 2014. This is not new news.
In a Forbes Article with Tien Tzuo: The Subscription Economy is a phrase, coined by Zuora, describing the new business landscape in which traditional pay-per-product (or service) companies are moving toward subscription-based business models.
Over the past few years we’ve seen a seismic shift in growth strategies for business brought about by a growing preference on the part of both businesses and consumers to subscribe to services, rather than buy products. And subscription economy companies are allowing their customers the adaptability to either pay as they go, or pay per subscription monthly, or via a long-term contract. The point is to have flexibility.
According to Shorr Packaging subscription boxes have become a huge:
- More than 2,000 subscription box services exist in the U.S., as of March.
- Visits to subscription box websites have grown by over 3,000% in the last three years, up from 722,000 visits in 2013 to 21.4 million in 2016+
Is this viable for Eyecare Professionals? It is expensive to do, which is probably why only a few eyecare professionals seem to be getting into this new category of business. We found a few eyecare professionals that are involved in this business model.
Sight Box: (Portland, Oregon) Launched in 2015 and overseen and advised by optometrists, this is a direct to door contact lens membership program that cost $39-$64 a month. They received $2.5 Million in funding in 2017. Their total funding is $4.2 Million.
The Lens Butler: (Toledo, OH) was launched in 2107 by ‘eyecare veterans’ (that is what it says on their site. They work with doctors as well for their monthly contact lens subscription services. They attended Vision Expo West 2017.
Mike and Martin Eyewear: (Dallas, TX) cancelled their fundraising on Kickstarter in 2016. Their subscription model will start at $34.99 a month and that will get you two pair a year for less than what one pair would cost you at your local optical shop (That is what they say) They have an optical background and a finishing lab. Consumers have the choice to purchase with an RX or the subscription model.
Pupil Vision: is a eye exam subscription model launched in 2017 by an eyecare professional in Denver, Colorado. This mobile eye exam is based upon a subscription model.
Contact Lens subscription Services:
Hubble Contact Lens: (New York, NY) You have all probably heard of Hubble. Launched in 2016, they have raised over $17 Million in funding. They provide their own branded contacts from St. Shine, a large contact lens manufacturer in Taiwan, to create Hubble. They will refer to a doctor for those who need an exam.
Optikal Care (Atlanta, GA) Launched in 2016, this monthly subscription model also gives back to SEE International. Partial funding was crowd sourced via Indiegogo, raising over $2000.
Hi Waldo (UK) launched in 2017 another subscription contact lens service.
Eyewear and Sunwear Subscription Companies:
Warby Parker: Last year we ran into this announcement ‘Online eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker announced the debut of Warby Parker Prime, an added-value membership service targeted to their most frequent online purchasers of eyewear.
Warby Parker Prime is modeled after Amazon Prime, said company CEO Neil Blumenthal. The $99 per year you’ll pay to be a Warby Parker Prime member brings, in addition to the free shipping provided to all customers, a bevy of benefits that rivals Amazon’s offerings. “We believe we’ve exceeded the level of value provided by Amazon,” said Blumenthal, “and far exceeded the perks provided by any online competitor in the eyeglasses business.”
This is what we found this year. This is pretty much what they already offer as a home try on. Just repackaged .
Shades Box=Wear Me Pro (Phoenix, AZ) is one of the longest lasting subscription shade services. Launched in 2011 they seem to be thriving. They even have a wholesale section.
Shades Club– In 2016, 2,958 backers pledged $321,908 to help bring this project to life. (Kickstarter)and on Indiegogo they raised $362,549 USD. They are now officially launched.
Ditto – Endless Eyewear– Ditto was officially launched in 2010. They have raised over $8 Million in funding. Their Endless Eyewear 3D program was launched in 2015 with a Any pair, anytime $24.00/month and RX $34.00/month program. They have partnered with August Capital and National Vision. Offer many designer eyewear options.
That Daily Deal- Monthly Brand Name Sunglass Club $9.99. Not much is known about them. Another who are they? From Tennessee.
Sol Theory Starting at $12.99/month- Their website is live, but again, Where are they located? Their ‘About’ is short, which maybe isn’t a bad thing if they don’t have anything to say.
Eye Desired (Palintine, IL) is a subscription- rental model launched in 2017. This is not your standard low end sunglasses. Their offerings are a selection of designers from Tom Ford to Balmain.
Shades Monthly (Rancho Cordova, California) Launched in 2017, this is another low priced subscription sunglass model.
The K.I.S.S Box Club offers ‘instant glam’ includes both lipstick and sunglasses. They offer an affiliate program just in case you would like to participate. Shipping from somewhere in the USA. This is another site that says nothing about them, and where they are located.
Pupil Box (Cincinnati, Ohio) is a digital eye strain solution subscription service. They were fully funded via Kickstarter and launching September 1, 2017.
RIP: We hate to see anyone go out of business, but running an online business is difficult and there are many pratfalls. It is expensive, you have to live online and promote your business, you must get good press, customer services is paramount and the product has to be decent as to quality. No one is saying that for $20 a month you are going to get premium glasses, but they can’t break the first time you wear them.
- Stunner of the Month Club– launched in 2012, they might be out of business. Facebook has not been updated since October 2015. No website.
- Shizzades Shades– $9.99/ month Another online subscription and one of those sites that drive me crazy. Where are they? Who are they? What are they all about? Any history? Their site is still up although their Facebook page as of this writing hasn’t been updated since 2016.
- Feshades was launched in 2012 and is out of business
- Rimfly (Australia) was launched in 2016 and appears to be out of business.
- Sun of a Chic subscription box launched in 2015 appears to be gone.
What is not included in these listings are the miscellaneous accessory boxes and designer fashion updates. While niche now, the growth rate is spectacular, particularly in the disposable arena such as contact lenses, makeup and nutraceuticals.
Bottom line.. Is this possible for eyecare professionals?
- Retail Wire: Excellent discussion on Should Retailers Offer a Subscription Model?
- Rewire Wire: How the Top 100 Subscription Users are coming Back
- Subscription Commerce Market
- INC: Infographic Showing The Crazy Growth of Subscription Boxes
- Subscription Boxes: Website with Subscription Boxes
- Subscription Boxes and the Postal Services