Popularity Of Subscription Boxes Means Rethinking How E-Commerce Logistics Work

Subscription boxes are a hot retail category, but the business has a problem, especially when it comes to beauty product boxes. While other companies in e-commerce are super-focused on efficiency and logistics, boxes that change their inventory every month and often let users add on to or customize their selections are a logistical nightmare and often have to be hand-packed.

The Wall Street Journal looked at this growing industry as part of a series of articles on logistics: that is, how companies get items from where they were made to your doorstep. Special challenges in subscription boxes include customers’ expectation of luxury packaging and the need to ship containers full of small and fragile containers of expensive cosmetics.

“Doing the bow 500,000 times is not easy. Some people just cannot do this,” Britta Fleck, the president of Glossybox USA, told the WSJ. The contents of each box come nestled in packing material, which in turn is wrapped in tissue paper. A sticker fastens the tissue paper, and there’s a black ribbon tied around the whole package. It doesn’t really need the ribbon, but it adds to the customers’ experience. “It sounds ridiculous, but if the box is open and it’s not a nice bow, the experience is already lower.” Yet it’s not a robot that ties that nice ribbon.

With Subscription Beauty Boxes, Rules of E-Commerce Don’t Apply [Wall Street Journal]

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