Subscription boxes

For the past few days I have been looking at subscription boxes. I know Manda has blogged about a few makeup and beauty related ones, and I remember Ivy blogging about Phone Case of the Month. I like the idea of buying a subscription to something that interests you, and receiving something in the mail every month.

I have never subscribed to anything, not even a magazine, and generally, the idea of paying for something on a monthly basis automatically makes me think of bills. Even my mobile phone bill is pre-paid. When it comes to monthly subscriptions I also tend to think about what I would otherwise spend my money on. Probably the same things I would buy with a subscription, but not every month. For instance, a jewellery box subscription is about $30 a month. I honestly don’t spend $30 a month on jewellery. I spend less than that.

Food, jewellery, makeup, clothes…?

I browsed My Subscription Addiction, which is a great blog that reviews subscription boxes. The website thankfully allows you to filter boxes that send to Australia. Sadly, a lot of the boxes I was interested in only ship to the US and/or Canada. There are some based in Australia, but they mostly have beauty or makeup products, which I am not really interested in. I am not such a fan of trying new products when it comes to makeup. With my mum working in makeup & skincare, I usually approach her for the best products.

That brings me to my next point – what I want in the box. I am definitely drawn to the jewellery boxes, which got me searching in the first place. I believe I stumbled upon RocksBox first, which doesn’t ship to Australia, but either way, I don’t like the idea of paying $19 a month just to rent jewellery (you get three pieces a month, and you return them at the end of the month, otherwise you pay for the pieces at a member’s price).

Subscription boxes exist for many things – food, clothing, underwear, makeup, sporting goods. There is even one for tea, which is based in Australia, but Emi said that $13 for approximately 50 grams a month is not really a good deal. Especially not with us being tea fanatics and drinking at least five mugs a day. Emi got me a cute teapot for my birthday, by the way! I keep it on my desk at work and it serves me well (as it should). It seems nice that Mr Earl, the subscription service I just referred to, gives you a good variety of tea, but knowing me, I would go through the entire month’s worth in two days.

Oh, shipping…

Shipping is always the nasty, extra, almost-hidden fee. It’s not always in the fine print, it’s sometimes right there for you to see (“FREE SHIPPING!” … I wish); otherwise you have to spend a while putting things in your cart and seeing what the shipping adds up to, after you put in your shipping address. Damn.

I found Nerd Block, which looks pretty promising for $20 or so a month, and shipping is free. You get a shirt and a handful of other nerdy/geeky stuff. I’m not too sure I really want or need a shirt every month, though, and I don’t like every single fandom out there.

I love the look of Indie Gift Box, which sends you handmade, limited supply items, but shipping is $20 a month to Australia, almost as much as the box itself ($25). It turned me off, because that is no longer great value. There are some that ship internationally for free, but the price of the box is still at least $40. I probably sound like a cheapskate, given that I am getting more value in the actual box, but it reminds me of those super duper deals where they put a lot of excess stock in a box and sell it for a really cheap price.

Like the good old Easter show bag

The Sydney Royal Easter Show is held for a period of three weeks to a month here in Sydney, every year around Easter. The showbags are always a big deal. You can get lots of candy, backpacks, toys, magic tricks, snacks, and other miscellaneous things, for under $20 a bag. The retail value is always up to or more than a hundred dollars. But on closer inspection, half the stuff in it is not very useful. Bowling coupons, old magazine issues, lots of samples, cheap toys that break, bags that aren’t good quality, and so on.

Usually you know what is in the showbags or you might have a general idea of what is inside them. In a way, these subscription boxes remind me of those showbags. A bag of goodies, but you don’t quite know what is inside. The value turns out to be not-so-great.

But it’s a surprise!

Yeah, I guess the fun isn’t really in the value, nor is the value always good. It’s more about the fact that you’re getting something delivered to you every month, and you only have a vague idea of what is inside. I think that is where the appeal comes from, even though I am inclined to think about value and price most of the time.

Of course comes the issue of whether you like what is in the box or not, because you don’t often have the option of returning the product/s. I have looked at a few reviews and seen photos of some boxes, and often I don’t think I will like what is inside, so I don’t look any further. If the preview doesn’t buy me, then that’s that.

Given that I have never really gotten into subscriptions, that is probably why they don’t appeal to me right now. I would see it as a large chunk of my pay out every month if I were into them! I often think about how people can afford to buy coffee every day, or lunch every day, because it really adds up over the course of a week or two. I only do so occasionally. But in the same vein, if subscriptions give you good value, then thirty dollars a month is cheaper than a coffee a day. :)

Sounds like fun.

But all in all, the idea is definitely still appealing, and I will probably try to find a subscription box that suits my needs and interests, and one that I won’t be such a cheapskate about. But what I do want to try, after a certain period, is to see whether the same amount of money will get me as much value per month if I shopped myself.

At this point I am thinking that I’ll go for a jewellery box for six months, then see about spending the same amount per month. I’ll probably get better quality products in the subscription since I like to buy my jewellery on sale, but who knows. I’ll keep you updated.

What is your opinion on subscription boxes? Any suggestions for ones that ship to Australia?

Thumbnail image from RocksBox.

Comments on this post

I like the look of a few, but like you said, they mostly don’t ship here or it’s expensive.
I subscribed to the notox box for a while which sent out items that didn’t have many chemicals and were good for the environment. I found I didn’t use a lot of the stuff and it was so varied I just wasn’t interested in most of it so I stopped it after 3 months.
Overall, I think I would prefer to use the money I would spend in a subscription box on something I actually know I’d enjoy.

It is certainly something that is interesting to think about and investigate. I really think that comparing them to show bags makes sense to me 100%.

As another Australian, it can be hard for us to also find these things that many other people can enjoy, without paying completely ridiculous postage.

Maybe a nice one that had a jewelry and stationery combination would work so well. Bwhahaha. ♥

The Indie Gift Box I mentioned seemed to have some stuff you might like… but I am going to be honest and tell you to just visit the Typo and Equip websites because they have sales all the time and you’ll probably get way more bang for your buck and find something you definitely like. XD

Also, Etsy. I have been on Etsy all day… makes me wish there were hundred-dollar bills spilling out of my laptop right now. :P

I think the idea of a box of random goodies sent to your door a month sounds like a fun idea in theory, but in reality thats a chunk of money that could have gone on something I need to pay (i.e. bills) or something I actually want. I like trying new makeup and skincare, and a few years ago I would regularly buy cheap cosmetics – until I realised that it was much more sensible to save that money for less frequent, more thoughtfully chosen and often more expensive/high end products. Thats the same way I feel about these boxes – yes, it is nice to try random things but I think its much more satisfying waiting, saving and spending on something you know you really want. I don’t have a set amount of money each month free to spend on what I like, so I like to choose those outgoings carefully. Some months I want makeup, other times I want clothes or books. I’d feel locked in with a subscription service. I also agree about shipping – that can take away a lot of value from the box.

I definitely understand that “locked in” feeling, and I personally find that even though I have certain interests, they still change a bit. For example, I will always love jewellery, but I always go through phases of different kinds of jewellery, and it’s nothing to do with trends. I used to love earrings to no end, because I have six piercings and can put whatever I want in them, but once I started getting allergic reactions because I was an idiot and kept buying cheap earrings, I decided to put aside a bit more money to invest in some simple sterling silver studs that wouldn’t irritate my ears and would last much longer.

It definitely makes more sense to spend more money on something you’ve put a lot of thought into, rather than on getting surprises every month. I did, however, want to experience what it was like, so I ended up subscribing to a little bracelet club for just three months. Hopefully it turns out alright. ;)

Personally, I find subscription boxes pointless. I wouldn’t spend even $5 for a box that probably has one single thing I almost like. I don’t like to buy things without knowing what I’ll get, as to me it is like literally wasting my money. Instead, I prefer to choose things I like for real and get them. If I wanted to try out something I might like I would just go to a store that has it and ask to get a closer look, which is free and even funny.

I really like this font, but the capital E’s look so weird, it feels trippy every time I view them. :p

Obviously, I lack any suggestions for boxes in Australia. :( But I understand you on the lack of free shipping and the box being almost worth double after the shipping costs… Here, some boxes are fairly priced while others are not. I’ve found some that seem like great ideas that are also hyped up among some bloggers in the ‘sphere, but the boxes themselves aren’t up to par with other subscriptions due to their pricing, and so on.

My Subscription Addiction was slightly helpful to me — it helped me find Toothbrush Subscriptions — but it didn’t have what I was really looking for, unfortunately. There was also another box I found through them, but I can’t remember what it was, and it wasn’t set up to be convenient for customers at all… I was going to try out different ones and review them, but too many subscription sites weren’t convenient enough to allow me to cancel on my own, and I decided it wasn’t worth it.

I feel you on the hype. Sometimes I look into the reviews written by some bloggers and they say such wonderful, sugar-coated things. Or they are of very little words, like “this was a great necklace!” or, “I don’t think I would wear it, but it’s cute!”

Later I’ll go for a snoop around the internet and find people who weren’t sent a box for free in exchange for a review, or I’ll read the reviews on the websites themselves, and it’s not really worth the money.

I ended up buying a three-month subscription to Helene Jewels, where they send a bit of “arm candy” every month. I’ve been buying too many rings lately that I don’t wear as many bangles or bracelets that I used to (I used to wear dozens on my wrists in high school, so much so that one of the stricter teachers told me off about “school uniform policy”)… so maybe I will receive something I like. I usually just wear a watch and a padlock bracelet these days. I guess I’ll see how that goes.

I’m not really familiar with subscription boxes for Australia (considering I live in the States). However, I DO love subscription boxes. I’m currently not subscribed to any but I used to be subscribed to Ipsy and Julep. When I get a real job, I plan to go back because I loved these products. I’m more into make-up but I had no idea there were jewelry subscription boxes.

I’ve also read about food ones (healthy snacks, smoothies, juices, etc.) and clothes.

And technically, although it’s not really a subscription box kind of package, I’m a member of JustFab, which offers a monthly pair of designer-y shoes for only $39.99. It sounds pricey but the quality is actually pretty good. I try to buy when there’s deals like Buy one get one free…because dang. They also sell purses and jeans and dresses. They seem to sell fast though.

What a great topic, Georgie!

That’s pretty cool! I have heard of some websites that just have special deals for members, with no obligation to buy. I am more a fan of those. Or even those that only require you to be a member on the mailing list, which is free most of the time – you get access to sales and discounts. Regarding shoes though, I really hate shoe shopping and nothing ever fits my feet so that is something I have to go to the store for and try on shoes until I find a pair that fits!