I don't remember who said it first, but there's a growing sense that the middle of the grocery store (i.e. anything not perishable) can and will shift to e-commerce and, more specifically, replenishment or subscription ordering. The obvious implication is that all of these categories - ranging from dry goods consumables to beauty and wellness - will be taken over by Amazon and its popular "Subscribe & Save" program.
Before that happens, a number of companies are jumping in to build more distinct brands and subscription programs and to prevent all of these categories from being forever solidified as commodities. Here are three I'm personally using and loving, in order of their launch dates and my adoption:
1. Goby - For years, I had used whatever the "dentist-recommended" electric toothbrush was. I never loved the device itself, nor the charging base, and the replacement heads weren't inexpensive and were hard to come by. For the past couple of years, Goby has been the perfect solution for all of this. (Note: The web site wasn't the millennial pink it now is when I signed up.)
Goby's modern product enhancements include a charger that's a USB plug-in and replacement heads that come in small cardboard boxes that one actually can open without tools. On top of all this, they launched a branded newsletter last month and one of the headlines was, "Why Eating Cheese While Drinking Wine Is Better for Your Teeth."
2. care/of - This is vitamins taken to a new level of creativity and ease. I've tweeted several times about how much I like this start-up's e-mails, packages, product, partnerships, and app. All of this adds up to a brand that's pretty unforgettable, and makes taking one's vitamins less forgettable, too.
While I don't like the extra packaging implicit in manufacturing daily vitamin packets, I really appreciate the efficiency of not opening multiple bottles that inevitably run out at different times and make even an Amazon subscription a hassle. Plus, each packet is graced with a fun fact or inspirational quote. And most months, I get to decorate the cardboard packet dispenser with stickers included in the package or play a fun game for a discount off the following month's payment.
3. billie - The newest among the three brands in my medicine cabinet has been described as "Dollar Shave Club for women". It solves the challenge of overpriced questionable-quality drugstore razors in dated packaging. And because none of the large brands in the space ever had products that resonated with me, I'd experiment with something new each time and never love anything about the item nor the experience.
I heard about billie from someone doing a Black Friday round-up. The 10% discount off the ~$10 starter kit wasn't a meaningful incentive, but the ordering experience (on mobile, of course) was so fast and easy, I was in. I got to pick my own color - blue is an option and a "pink tax rebate" is one billie marketing tactic - and the actual razor with its neat magnetic shower hook is the best I've ever used.
It's possible all of these brands ultimately will become just another option via Amazon, Walmart, or Target. But for now, each is easier and more fun to shop than any of those companies and has product that actually bests them.
Thumbnail image from mybillie.com.