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Useful post by US VC Rob Go on critical success factors for the subscription commerce (#subcom) trend a la BirchboxHoseanna & Manpacks – with an interesting additions in the comment thread. So to be a big winner in the subscription commerce market, you need to offer one or more of the following

  1. Problem-solving – solves a real problem experienced by consumers (see 2-4)
  2. Curation – solving the problem of product discovery by helping people discover great stuff
  3. Trial – solving the problem of risk with “try before you buy”
  4. Convenience – solving the problem of convenience, by helping people save time and effort
  5. Amazon-proof – something that can’t/won’t be offered by Amazon
  6. Scalability – can be built into a large business, scalable acquisition, scalable servicing and retention (Rue La La/Hautelook)
  7. Broken – current buying process for the sort of products to be sold is broken/dysfunctional
  8. KYC (Know Your Customer) – superior knowledge and insight into customers (through analytics or expertise)
  9. Uniqueness – selling something special, unique, and differentiated
  10. Sociability – selling in a vertical that is inherently social (where stuff gets shared) – such as beauty, shoes and female-oriented niches –  and in a demographic with vocal, social media savvy customers
  11. Offline parallel – The existence of a successful offline subscription model (e.g. Netflix) in your vertical


  • Jeff

    This is a great list. Gangaroo.com addresses 5 of these so we’re off to a good start!

  • Is

    Is manpacks Amazon-proof? I saw the same idea done in New Zealand about 3 years ago. I think it might have flopped. Guess it comes down to traffic generation,

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