Small Business editor of the NZ Herald

Online subscription delivery businesses a growing success

My Food Bag is perhaps our best-known local example of the home-delivery-via-subscription  model. Photo / Supplied
My Food Bag is perhaps our best-known local example of the home-delivery-via-subscription model. Photo / Supplied

From wine selected to your personal taste, to razors, dog treats and candles - a wide range of products can now be regularly delivered to your door.

My Food Bag is perhaps our best-known local example of the home-delivery-via-subscription model, but a growing number of small Kiwi companies are joining the trend.

Debbie Sutton is CEO and Yvonne Lorkin is chief tasting officer of WineFriend, an online subscription business the pair founded that delivers customised wine selections.

Sutton has been in the wine industry for about 25 years, and in 2012 sold the family business.

"I found myself in the supermarket trying to choose a bottle of wine, and feeling totally uninspired. I thought, 'If I'm struggling, with all my wine industry experience, how must everyone else feel?'

"I also knew how many great boutique wineries there are out there that don't get a look-in at the supermarket, and found it a bit depressing," Sutton says.

"I had already been a customer of [food delivery service] My Food Bag and loved their model, so I wondered if we could translate some of what they were doing to wine."

Sutton teamed up with wine writer Lorkin soon after and the pair launched WineFriend last October.

"We hugely admire what Nadia, Theresa and Cecilia have achieved with My Food Bag, and even if we had a fraction of that success it would be fantastic," says Sutton.

Melanie Holt and her husband, Darryl, are the owners of Bloom Social - a business they launched last April that delivers flowers via subscription as part of its operation.

Customers pay upfront for a set number of bouquets, which they can then choose to have delivered weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

Late last year the business also began offering candle subscriptions along the same lines.

Although it's early days for the business, Holt is excited by the opportunities a subscription model presents. "It's great to be able to predict volumes in advance, it reduces wastage, and it's obviously great for cashflow."

"We also get to know subscribers well and they'll give us feedback, which helps us always improve what we're doing.

"And from a customer point of view it's a time-saving and convenience factor."

Coming up in Small Business: New health and safety legislation comes into effect in April. How have small businesses been preparing? If you have a story, drop me a note: nzhsmallbusiness@gmail.com.

- Herald on Sunday

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