Just when it feels like online mail couldn’t get more spammy, real mail — the kind you touch with your grubby little hands — is getting more and more authentic and personal.
We all know the online shopping experience changing. Companies like Soap.com, Warby Parker and Zappos have already shown us that.
Fulfillment is instant, shipping is free, returns are free, discount codes are prevalent and the way these companies thank their customers is genuine and sincere.
But now a handful of web-based retail startups are not just thinking of service. They are reinventing the way people shop for products.
Actually, scratch that. They aren’t about shopping at all. These brands are about gifts, subscriptions and product curation.
Here’s a quick intro to three:
Inspired by the Warby Parker model of taking out the middle-men and making high-quality, designer-quality stuff affordable, these guys will probably kick ass. I’d love it if their products were made in the USA. In fact, I don’t actually know and I’m a little scared to find out. But I imagine it’s hard to be a cool startup and be locally made.
This USPS-obsessed company cuts out all the Kevin Bacons standing between you and a cultural tastemaker. For just $25 a pop, Quarterly sends you a little gift every three months (that’s quarterly) from someone who would probably never in a million years be sending you a personal gift. I haven’t subscribed yet myself, but if I had to, I’d be curious to know what John Maeda would send.
Eeeeeh, this concept makes me feel a little odd. The premise is you want to give a friend a really thoughtful gift. So you go to Wantful and they help you select 16 gift ideas. Then they print out the gift ideas in a book and send it to your friend. Your friend then chooses a gift online and Wantful sends them the gift. All packaged nice and stuff.
But my question is: if you’re not thoughtful enough to pick a good gift for your friend, would you be thoughtful enough to do it through this site? I guess this would be the perfect service for a friend who loves to receive packages in the mail. But with the printed book of gift ideas, the whole process also be a little Wasteful too, right?
How do you feel about these startup concepts? Which would you subscribe to?