Subscription Commerce May Be Saturated, But New Entrants Emerge

New Entrants Emerge In Subscription Commerce

With meal kits, streaming services and food delivery apps all vying for consumer attention, it’s easy to declare the subscription commerce market at a saturation point. Blue Apron will announce earnings this week, and speculation isn’t upbeat.

According to PYMNTS’ Subscription Commerce Conversion Index, in Q2 2019 the subscription marketplace competition got tighter, with fewer new providers entering or leaving it compared to previous quarters.

Consumers might be maxed out on subscription commerce, but that hasn’t stopped startups from making a go of it in new and unexpected ways. The latest Recurring Global Payments Tracker details the efforts made by subscription commerce companies and looks at emerging models across verticals.


Welcome is “a subscription-based hospitality box” filled with high-end toiletries and snacks that are sold to hosts, apartment property managers and owners to give to guests staying in short-term rentals. Boxes contain a customized welcome note with information about a property, including Wi-Fi login, house rules, checkout time and emergency contact information.

Boxes are available as one-time purchases or bought on a monthly subscription basis. In an interview with PYMNTS, Founder Nick Chen explained that affluent travelers and enterprise business-to-business (B2B) customers – property managers – comprise roughly 80 percent of its business. The company is “a great product discovery platform,” Chen said.


Comma Vintage, a unique apparel and accessories subscription service, puts a new spin on curated clothing boxes that potentially appeal to consumers with unique style, those who are environmentally conscious or those who don’t have time to go out and find hidden gems in thrift stores. The company also includes a story about the items found inside its boxes, said Founder Mike Pontacoloni in an interview with PYMNTS.

Consumers can choose a seasonal plan that is charged every three months or a full year (four-shipment) plan that is charged every 12 months. Consumers can check out with PayPal or enter a credit card on the company’s eCommerce website.

In a similar vein, Southern Scholar Socks fills the void for men in need of socks that are “unique but still office-appropriate,” according to Founder Kevin Wohlman.

Consumers can order a subscription through Southern Scholar and choose from month-to-month, six-month and 12-month prepaid options, and can pay for their subscriptions online using a credit card. The company ships a specific design every month based on seasonality and outfit style.

Home Goods

Furniture subscription rental service Feather was founded on the idea that people might want to rent high-end furniture, especially during the period between college and the first-time homebuying process.

Feather has forged partnerships with brands including West ElmCasperTuft & Needle and Pottery Barn. Earlier this year, Feather launched a membership option for $19 per month, which includes benefits such as discounted monthly furniture payments, a free furniture change once a year and a one-time free white-glove delivery and assembly service.

Toys & Entertainment

Vinyl Me, Please is a music discovery subscription service that was launched as an antidote to the shift from paying for music ownership to paying for streaming access.

According to Matt Fiedler, CEO and co-founder, the company helps consumers discover music through its subscription service. Each month, the company features a record that they believe is essential to the modern vinyl collection. For subscriptions, consumers can choose from three different “tracks,” each of which has a different flavor of curation ranging from essentials to classics to rap and hip-hop. Consumers can choose three-month, six-month or one-year terms, and can pay with credit cards or PayPal.

To change the way consumers buy age-appropriate toys, subscription services are focusing on offering specialized collections of play items designed for specific stages of a baby’s life. The core business for Lovevery is play kits for little ones from newborn to 24 months old.


The Vitamin Shoppe recently rolled out Only Me, a personalized online assessment that offers a custom assortment of vitamins and supplements to subscribers each month. Only Me uses a detailed questionnaire covering daily routines as well as current health status to create a wellness plan.

Beyond vitamins, other innovators are turning to the subscription business model for wellness. Calm’s subscription includes access to a suite of meditation and mindfulness connected services, including guided daily 10-minute meditations, wellness master classes and half-hour bedtime stories to aid sleep.