Brandless, a direct-to-consumer home essentials business, on Thursday launched a subscription option, CEO Tina Sharkey told Retail Dive in an interview.
The new service allows shoppers to receive certain products on a regular timeline of their choosing — weekly, monthly, twice a year or anything in between, Sharkey said. Each subscription box comes with a surprise gift.
Brandless also announced it will give two extra meals to Feeding America per subscription box. The startup, which launched mid-2017, ended 2018 with over 400 products in its assortment, and it plans to double its offering this year, Sharkey said.
Brandless has made a lot of noise in a short period of time with a model bent on cutting out the inefficiencies of consumer goods sales via the aisles of mass merchandisers. All of the brand's products cost $3 each. "Better doesn't need to cost more," she said.
"We're trying to build a better way, starting with our culture and our team, then looking at the supply chain and looking at how we can bring efficiency to it by going direct. And then building direct relationships with the community we serve," she said. "The thing that's so cool about having those relationships is that they literally tell us, either through their posts, their tags, their emails, their tweets, what they're looking for, and we respond in kind."
Offering a subscription service is part of meeting that demand, she said. While Sharkey acknowledges that some products may be one-time only purchases — like the trail mix she orders for her children's teams when she's the snack mom — many of the home essentials Brandless sells are frequently replenished — like cleaning supplies, beauty products and toilet paper.
Rolling out a subscription model is a convenience play for consumers who don't want to think about reordering basics like paper towels, and it's a savvy business move. It's similar to Amazon's popular Prime Pantry program, which has helped it outpace rivals in the household and personal care product spaces. A Prime membership, however, comes with a $119 annual price tag. Brandless doesn't require a membership and ships all orders with a $5 flat fee, unless shoppers hit the free shipping minimum of $39. It does offer a membership for $36 a year, which comes with free shipping on any amount and more meal donations to Feeding America.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the percentage of products that are currently priced at $3. As of publication, all Brandless products fall under that price point, according to information provided by the company.