Rockets of Awesome: Thinking Inside the (Subscription) Box
Retail subscription services are nothing new, but that hasn’t stopped them from experiencing unprecedented growth recently. Data from our Global Ecommerce Report found 65-percent growth in the number of subscription services globally, ranging from meal kits, to grooming and beauty products, to pet treats and more.
Most subscription services are for general consumers, but very few, if any, are focused on trying to make a mom or dad’s life easier, said Rachel Blumenthal, founder and CEO of Rockets of Awesome. That’s why her company created a quarterly subscription box for kid’s clothes – but it’s also much more than that. It’s an example for other retail subscription services of how to lead with your brand and create an exceptional customer experience.
The Brand Challenge in Ecommerce
Buying kid’s clothes often means replacing entire wardrobes every few months as the child keeps growing, said Blumenthal. That also means lots of trips to the mall or hours spent shopping online, only to do it all over again a few months later. A subscription service seemed like a natural solution to this problem, said Blumenthal, but Rockets of Awesome knew it couldn’t only do that – they had to go a step further and design a customer experience that would be known for being kid-focused and fun.
Branding can be a struggle in ecommerce. Online shopping limits the number of opportunities retailers have to build a relationship with the customer. That puts pressure on retailers to maximize the few touchpoints available to them: their website, the delivery box and service aspects like returns and customer support.
Rockets of Awesome thought about how to pull together all three areas for a service that’s uniquely kid-centric and fun.
Kids Are in Charge
When parents sign up for Rockets of Awesome, an upfront style quiz allows kids to pick their favorite and least favorite colors and patterns, decide whether they love or hate zippers and buttons, and specify the types of clothes they simply won’t ever wear. The company then curates a selection of clothes that are meant to match the child’s preferences.
Putting kids in the driver’s seat cuts down on any disagreements due to picky tastes. Parents still have control: they get an online preview of the clothes that have been selected for each box before it is shipped, so they have the chance to veto and replace selections if, for example, they already have enough jeans. Ultimately, the quiz helps build excitement around the brand, but that’s just the start.
The Box is the Brand
When the box finally arrives at the customer’s home, it’s a cause for celebration. The Rockets of Awesome team spent a lot of time carefully designing a package that is made just for kids.
1) The box is beautifully branded in bright blue, with a handle that makes it a fun little suitcase that kids can carry in from their doorstep. The box can then be reused for any purpose, like storing toys or just for playing around the house.
2) The inside of the box is also covered in designs, like unicorns and dinosaurs, that kids can use for coloring.
3) There are no plastic bags or clothes tags for the highly tactile junior consumer who hates all that grown-up filler.
4) Clothes are wrapped in big piece of silver mylar (also great as a cape) with a sticker in the child’s favorite color
Receiving the box each quarter is something a child can look forward to and anticipate.
“It’s this giant blue box and it’s meant to say to the kids, ‘This is something different. This isn’t your mom’s box,’” Blumenthal said. “They’re used to seeing Amazon boxes and Gap boxes in their house, but this box is designed to say: ‘This is something special that’s just for you.’”
Returns are easy: the box includes a USPS shipping label and package for parents to send back anything they don’t want to keep.
“We really thought about making the end-to-end experience really special.” she added. “So, parents aren’t just telling their friends, ‘Oh, I found this brand that’s really cool and they make great clothes and I love it and my kids love it and the price is right,’ but they’re also saying, ‘They make my life so much easier!’”
The Right Partner Empowers a Great Experience
As fun and unique as the Rockets of Awesome experience is for customers, it could be a fulfillment nightmare for the retailer. However, by using a range of solutions from Pitney Bowes, the company has the tools and technology to enable its standout features.
That online feature that offers a “sneak peek” of each package for parents? It’s not easy to do. The Rockets of Awesome site needs to immediately serve up new apparel options for the parent to choose from on the spot, while maintaining a 48-hour window for shipping. To do that, the company relies on real-time inventory awareness from Pitney Bowes.
“We actually couldn’t deliver that feature to our customers before they were a partner,” said Blumenthal.
Keeping bags and tags out of the box may be nice for kids, but it makes life harder for the folks filling the boxes, since they don’t have the luxury of a scannable sticker label to manage inventory. The inventory and fulfillment experience and technology of Pitney Bowes were crucial to helping the company create an efficient packing and packaging experience.
“It sounds really simple, but when you’re shipping tens of thousands of boxes a day, it’s complicated. We work really closely with the Newgistics team, now part of Pitney Bowes, to make sure that they understand what our expectations are for packaging and presentation,” Blumenthal said. “Everything is wrapped perfectly, the right packing slip is in there, the shipping label is on the right box.”
Another bonus of real-time inventory: the company can strategically manage inventory in a way that avoids deep discounts for “out of season” apparel. It’s a dream scenario in which the retailer doesn’t have to suffer any deterioration in sell-through for “older” clothes.
“Working with Newgistics, now Pitney Bowes, has been really seamless and kind of magical,” Blumenthal said. “We’re always speaking about them in our team meetings and really looking to them as such tremendous partners to have. They’ve not only made our operations much more seamless but also made our customer experience really exceptional.”
Still a relative newcomer to the market, Rockets of Awesome is enjoying fast success in subscription retail, and the future is bright: sales of children’s apparel exceeds $203 billion globally, and very few retailers in the space rely on data and technology to innovate the way Rockets of Awesome already has, Blumenthal said.
With the right partners at its side, the company is poised to make new inroads in both digital and brick-and-mortar retail environments, with a focus on immersive, kids-first experiences lighting their path.
Learn more about the ecommerce solutions that companies like Rockets of Awesome rely on to create great industry-leading retail subscription services. Fulfillment from Pitney Bowes is a suite of fulfillment management solutions that empower retailers to exceed those expectations—and accomplish much more.