Put your shopping on autopilot with these subscription-based startups

Trunk Club

Subscription shopping services – the ones that will fill your mailbox with a steady stream of products for a fee – are one of the fastest-growing types of online retailer. You can find whatever you need, from curated clothing for the person who doesn’t know how (or doesn’t like to) shop for themselves, to disposable products like shampoo and razor blades for those who just find it annoying to regularly restock.

Do these services actually make sense for the average consumer, or are we just smitten by the novelty? It depends on what you’re after. While they all deliver regularly, each service fills different needs, from offering merely offering convenience, to peace of mind, savings and even surprises.

If your goal is saving money, anything curated won’t make sense, simply because of the added cost of someone picking things out for you. For instance, the cheapest item on Trunk Club’s website is tees – starting at $40. That has to be a heck of a t-shirt.

Trunk Club ClothesAnd, by all accounts, it is. The people who shop Trunk Club, or have Trunk Club shop for them, are into $40 t-shirts and $200 sweaters. They also have a personal shopper assigned to them, who gets the lay of the land of the customer’s closet through Skype or by phone. Every trunk comes with an extensive questionnaire, and you only pay for what you like out of the box, sending the rest back. This service comes at what appears to be a 10 to 15 percent markup from retail.

For its target consumer, Trunk Club is providing a commodity more valuable than money: time.

But for the people who value money and time, is there anything for them?

For a man, razors are one of the biggest rackets in consumerism. We know that for a close, effective shave we should change the cartridge in our razor at least monthly, if not bi-weekly. When you run out, you trudge to the store expecting to get taken advantage of by Gillette. And you are, to the tune of $30 to $40 for a package of eight cartridges. For a good shave, that adds up to roughly $100 per year.

Dollar Shave Club offers an easier way. For a dollar per month (plus shipping), the company will send you their basic two-blade razor and five cartridges per month. Although adequate for most people (especially those without thick beard growth or expert shavers), there are upgraded razors available for $6 to $9 per month. With some simple math, the basic razor allows you to change cartridges much more frequently than the store-bought options, and only costs you $36 per year, including shipping, for the privilege.

If your goal is saving money, anything curated won’t make sense.

You also avoid awkward trips to the pharmacy, where the lady in your life might also ask you to pick up tampons. Speaking of which …

Yes, there are no less than seven tampon subscription services flowing (sorry) into the marketplace. One of the best designed, Hello Flo, apparently bases its subscriptions on the amount of flow the lady expects, ranging from $14 to $18 per month for tampons, pads, pantiliners, and some “delicious treats.”

Why doesn’t Dollar Shave Club offer candy? Shaving is just as stressful!

Anyway, Hello Flo sends your package five days before you expect your period, so you’re always prepared. They use well-known brands, like Always, while some of its competitors makes their own products or specialize in higher-end wares.

Do you save money? Probably not. Peace of mind, on the other hand, may be priceless to a lot of women.

For products that are regularly used, particularly consumer goods, another option might be Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program, which offers household supplies, health and beauty products, pet goods and other products at a regular interval that you choose. Simply choose what goes into your box and it gets sent to you with free shipping. Amazon also says Subscribe & Save can save you up to 15 percent on everyday prices. For things you know you are going to use, like shampoo, this could be a gold mine.

dollar shave club

Then there is a commodity that is hard to put a price on: whimsy.

Some people are into funky socks. If that is you, there are quite a few subscription services willing to send you a cool pair of socks each month for around $10, Foot Cardigan and Sock Club being the most popular. Again, you’re probably not saving money, but if you’re into socks that look like a hamburger, you might have a tough time finding them yourself. The service therefore saves you time.

For crafty people, For The Makers will send you a monthly box with the materials and instructions necessary to make four crafts per month, like jewelry or tote bags, for $29. This sounds like an awesome gift for a closeted Pinterist fan who doesn’t think they can do the projects on their own.

No matter which of these services – or the hundreds of others that are springing up – fill a need for you, they all guarantee one thing that you haven’t seen in a long time: something arriving from the United States Postal Service that you actually look forward to every month. When is the last time that happened?

Deals

Get the Braun Series 7 Cordless shaver at a 59-percent discount

Braun's Series 7 7790cc cordless smart shaver has four shaving elements, an eight-direction flexible head, and five power modes. Amazon and Braun just added a special coupon for the Series 7 that discounts the shaver by 59 percent.
Deals

Save up to $750 with the best smartphone deals for December 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $750.
Home Theater

Sling TV ramps up its base programming with Discovery Networks for free

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Deals

Save big on these Braun electric razors and women’s epilators

Amazon and Walmart are currently offering limited-time deals for Braun electric razors and women's epilators. If you plan to make your way through all the festive parties this year with fresh smooth these tools will help.
Deals

The best air fryer deals you can still snag before Christmas

Christmas is closing in on us fast, but you still have a little bit of time left for last-minute kitchen gifts. We've searched the depths of Amazon and Walmart to bring you the best air fryer deals going on right now.
Product Review

The Brava Oven takes all the thinking out of cooking

Using bulbs to cook food at different light frequencies, the Brava Oven lets even the clueless cook a tasty meal. But your own smart chef doesn’t come cheap.
Deals

Best deals on smart locks so you’ll never have to worry about unlocked doors

Is your front door locked? We found the best deals on smart home door locks that take the worry out of wondering if your home is secure. You can lock or unlock your doors remotely and some models let you control locks with voice commands.
Deals

These Amazon kitchen deals are perfect for Christmas gifts and healthy eating

Today is day 10 of Amazon’s “12 Days of Deals,” and it’s all about kitchen. From blenders to Instant Pots to KitchenAid mixers and more, practical yet highly coveted small appliances are available for up to 50 percent off.
Smart Home

Ring Alarm vs. Nest Secure: Which one is right for you?

Thanks to the advance of technology, it's become really easy nowadays to secure your home and protect it from thieves, intruders, and unwanted guests. Which one of these two top contenders is right for you?
Smart Home

The Apple HomePod gets a whole lot cheaper today at Target

Apple's HomePod hasn't been the most popular smart speaker on the market but for users who are all in on Apple's heavily policed ecosystem of devices, this smart speaker is on serious sale at Target this week.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Smart Home

Uber Eats is testing a system for cheaper meal delivery

You know how Uber Pool offers cheaper trips if riders share a car? Well, Uber Eats is currently testing the same idea for meal delivery, and it could mean cheaper orders for customers.
Smart Home

Dear Instant Pot Smart: I love you. Thank you for changing my life

After taking the Instant Pot Smart WiFi Programmable Pressure Cooker for a spin, one long-time product reviewer finds much to love about the device she long coveted, despite that it’s not really that smart.