While we used to think of these as the domains of entertainment and communication, or membership – TV streaming, magazines, broadband, professional associations and suchlike – they are now much more common in the world of actual, physical goods delivered to your door.
Sometimes these are treats – beauty boxes, flowers, gourmet recipe ingredients – and plenty of others are more workaday consumables from toilet rolls to batteries. And often, the purchaser hasn’t thought about placing a regular order, at a discount, until this is suggested to them at the checkout.
The principle isn’t new – it can be traced back to books and periodicals in the 17th century – but the popularity of subscriptions is spiralling. Research by Barclaycard showed an astonishing 39.4% year-on-year increase in this form of purchasing, to July 2020.
At that point the UK subscription economy was deemed to be worth £323m – prompting the company to call us a ‘nation of super subscribers’ – and has undoubtedly grown since then, with two thirds of homes now signed up to some sort of regular purchasing.
But while the millennial generation particularly is fully on board with this notion in our private purchasing lives, subscriptions are only just emerging for workplaces – leading Office Depot to pioneer our own service, the first of its kind.
The pandemic-relating rise in homeworking has certainly speeded up this process, creating demand for timely stationery and printing supplies as well as more significant purchases.
So how can workplaces benefit from setting up subscriptions?
Firstly, such a move creates predictable outgoings and invoices from one or more pre-approved suppliers. This may be a relief for many finance managers, after a year of chaotic purchasing and expenses claims among homeworkers playing rather fast and loose with procurement policies.
Secondly it establishes smooth supply lines – the equivalent of a personal stationery cupboard, perhaps, for every home worker. Paper, pens and rubber bands are there when they are needed, rather than ordered ad hoc for next-day delivery when the box becomes empty – a boost for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint, too.
From an employee engagement point of view, monthly deliveries of good-quality essentials are one more way to show that you are a thoughtful employer, keen to make sure staff have all the tools they need to do their jobs. Wouldn’t you like to work for a company that sends you personalised supplies in this way?
Finally, the principle allows companies to automate some of their purchasing – while of course retaining the ability to adjust, pause or recalibrate orders when this is needed.
So while subscription purchasing is unlikely to supersede more traditional methods of manual purchasing, it will certainly complement this – streamlining the way you do things, and making your colleagues love you all the more.
To find out more about how Office Depot is perfectly positioned to become your supplier of homeworker subscription purchases click here, and a member of our team will be in touch