Target launched a free service on Wednesday that allows customers to have baby-care basics automatically delivered to them on a schedule of their choosing. By saving time for flustered parents, the store is attempting to compete with Amazon, Wal-mart and other retailers that have already entered the subscription service marketplace.
The retailer plans to have roughly 150 products available for subscription, including diapers, wipes and formula. Customers can choose delivery options for every four to every 12 weeks, with free shipping.
Amazon and Diapers.com are two well-known sites that offer similar services. Amazon’s Subscribe and Save offers products to be regularly delivered in a range of categories, including hair care, food and household supplies. Subscription orders are offered in monthly intervals from one-month to six-months, with customers paying when items are shipped. Diapers.com, which is operated under the Amazon-owned Quidsi, focuses more strongly on baby care and calls its service “auto-ship.”
Target isn’t the only big-box retailer utilizing subscription services to grow online sales. Wal-mart recently launched Goodies Co., a service that ships five to eight snacks monthly to customers for $7 a month. While the service does not allow for customer choice like Amazon or Target, it represents the growing power of the subscription model for both online and brick and mortar businesses.
Startups have also made waves in the e-commerce subscription market. Birchbox is one of the most frequently cited success stories. The company, founded in 2010, sends monthly samples of beauty, grooming and lifestyle products. Socked, another subscription-based startup, rackets to men, with four pairs of basic black socks to be delivered monthly, quarterly or biannually. Hello Flo, a monthly tampon subscription service, launched earlier this year and went viral last month with its ‘Camp Gyno’ Youtube ad.
Target currently operates over 1,800 stores worldwide, while Wal-mart owns over 10,800. However, with growing numbers of online shoppers, both are astronomically outpaced by Amazon online, with The Wall Street Journal reporting that Amazon.com sells more online than its next 12 biggest competitors.
In addition to launching its subscription baby-goods service, Target also launched Target Ticket on Wednesday. Target Ticket is a digital video store aimed at families, competing with Wal-mart’s Vulu and Amazon’s Instant Video, as well as digital media kings iTunes and Netflix. Target boasts titles such as HBO’s Game of Thrones and True Blood, as well as movies such as “World War Z” and “Iron Man 3” in a press release.