To offer shoppers a curated selection of local products ranging from décor to local flavors, eCommerce innovators are assembling subscription boxes around different U.S. states. California Found, for instance, is essentially a boutique gift box of artisanal goods from the Golden State. In lieu of a big-box store or Amazon, the box aims to provide shoppers with opportunities to purchase gifts for friends or loved ones through a different channel, with a differentiated experience.
“This is like going to a small boutique with unique items” they will not find elsewhere, Founder and Owner Beth McClure told PYMNTS in an interview.
The company curates items ranging from home décor to spa and beauty products for hair care and skincare. It also features jewelry and gourmet food selections like jam, hot sauce, granola and packaged foods. The company packages the items and sends them once a month.
McClure noted that the items work as a whole collection or can be broken apart. All of the items—such as hand-blended hair serum and handmade fruit spread—are made by California artisans, with no big corporate brands included in the boxes.
The company offers both month-to-month and three-month subscriptions. Consumers can also choose to buy gift subscriptions for either a single, one-time gift box or a three-month subscription.
California Found is not alone in offering consumers choices with its subscriptions: Nearly all – or 95 percent – of the top performers in Q4 2018 offered plan options, according to the PYMNTS Subscription Commerce Conversion Index. For payments, the company accepts credit cards and debit cards.
The Curation Process
As the curator of the box’s selections, McClure aims to offer a broad spectrum for each of its collections. However, the company does assure suppliers that it won’t include competing products in the same box. Some other beauty boxes, for instance, might provide a lip gloss, lip balm and lip scrub from three different competing artisans. But McClure is sensitive to the fact that California artisans are small and mighty. Consumers may get one skincare item, one gourmet item, one stationery or fine art item, one home décor item and one jewelry item.
California Found’s target market is almost nearly all women between approximately 35 and 65 years old. McClure also pointed out that “they are women who pride themselves on being creative gift givers.” These consumers are interested in supporting local, small and women-owned businesses who are California fanatics, whether they live in the Golden State or not. They are also curious shoppers and take pride in finding the perfect eye serum or Paleo granola for their friends.
When McClure first started her company, she went to many shows to pitch the concept and to get to know people, while also talking about the brand and its marketing strategy. However, over time, previous vendors have referred current vendors. Instead of McClure going out to reach vendors, they are now reaching out to her to find out when the next collection is available and to offer samples of their products.
When vendors partner with California Found, McClure releases a blog post in which she talks about them in detail, and she also includes in-box inserts that talk about them and their products. The company also takes professional photos of their products and shares them on social media. They also send products to their community of reviewers and review platforms, who sample and write about the boxes. That strategy expands the reach of its suppliers through what McClure calls “an exponential communication vehicle.”
McClure noted that California is sort of a land of dreams, and many consumers have a passion for the place. They want to understand what people in California are eating and wearing, as well as their beauty rituals. McClure added that there are many lifestyle brands coming out of the Golden State, and she doesn’t think they are coincidental. As for the subscription box itself, she thinks it’s a good opportunity to “expose folks to California brands and that California lifestyle in a really unique and personal way.”