Can Discovery Commerce Work for Your Small Business?

Is discovery commerce — the practice of selling a regular subscription to a bundle of products that you choose for the customer — a model that small-business owners can use to their advantage?

It’s already working for companies such as BirchboxJewelMintNatureBoxStitch Fix, and Stork Stack, as well as many wine purveyors.

To help you decide whether or not you should give discovery commerce a try, consider these four factors that help to make it work.

1. Variety — Discovery commerce often appeals to consumers in situations where making their own selections requires sorting through and evaluating a large or complex variety of products [PDF], such as clothing, jewelry, and wine. Many busy people prefer to leave the task of picking and choosing suitable products to a presumed “specialist,” even one who works for the vendor itself. The approach is less suited to one-size-fits-all products or relatively thin categories in which a couple of offerings effectively meet most consumers’ needs.

2. Gifts — If you’ve ever received a present that you’ve “re-gifted” to someone else, you already understand why discovery commerce can work well for products like kitchenware, home decor, clothing accessories, and specialty foods. In households that frequently buy gifts, the most obvious downside of discovery commerce — that you might receive products you won’t enjoy — becomes far less discouraging, because you can always give the items away. Anything that’s well-made, nicely packaged, attractive, and unique or interesting is likely to find a receptive market.

3. Consumables — Diapers, razor blades, paper goods, beauty products, cleaning supplies, and the like make excellent candidates for discovery commerce, too. Once consumers register their basic preferences (such as scented or scent-free, pour or pump dispenser, package size, monthly quantity, and so forth), it’s super convenient to receive consumables without having to go get them — or even think about them, really.

4. Wild Cards — Discovery commerce appeals to some consumers simply for its ability to surprise and delight them. Many people enjoy receiving packages from trusted sources without knowing exactly what they contain. In these circumstances, consumers can appreciate a wide range of goods — even those that meet none of the criteria above (see #1, #2, and #3) — and even get introduced to new brands, products, and styles.

About Robert Moskowitz

Robert Moskowitz is an Emmy-winning author and editor with a knack for conveying complex and difficult topics in a friendly, down-to-earth style.
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