Wal-Mart launches Goodies Co, a site based on subscription commerce; should Indian firms take a cue?

15 Nov, 2012

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has launched Goodies Co., a site that follows the subscription commerce model, in exclusive beta (which means you need an invitation to access it). For those who are not familiar with subscription commerce, let us tell you it is a business model where a customer pays a fixed monthly subscription for receiving a box of goods once a month – be it cosmetics or toys or, in case of Goodies Co., food products.

The site charges $7 per month and in return, each customer receives a monthly 'taster's box' filled with exciting new food products. Each box contains 5-8 trial-size food products, allowing customers to sample and discover new items. Note that the customers cannot choose the food items. Instead, the company has a Tasting Lab where people sample the products and those scoring the highest, earn a place in the taster's box.

This increases the surprise element and if a customer likes a particular product, he/she can purchase the required amount from the company's new Goodies Co. Store. As of now, Goodies Co. only ships within the continental US.

While the subscription model is fairly common in the US, a number of Indian e-commerce firms can definitely take a cue from it and introduce 'product trial' at a small cost. For instance, online grocery stores can start a similar offering where users will get a choice of products from the sites for monthly fees. For e-shoppers, such practice will be of interest as they will get to try out new food items every month. It will increase the popularity of the site and customers will be more comfortable in purchasing varieties of products online – after all they have sampled it before bulk buying.

Then there is the social angle where customers earn points (which can be redeemed in the form of gifts) for writing reviews of the products that come in a taster's box. Getting positive feedback on the same will also appeal to the writers. A lot of other sites can also make good of this model – especially those selling products like cosmetics, chocolate and confectionery.

So what is your take? Will you be willing to pay a monthly subscription for a similar service that surprises you with new stuff? Let us know what you think in the comment box below.

(Edited by Sanghamitra Mandal)