Curated Subscription Commerce: A Theoretical Conceptualization

51 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2018 Last revised: 26 Apr 2019

See all articles by Severin Friedrich Bischof

Severin Friedrich Bischof

University of St. Gallen, Institute of Retail Management (IRM-HSG), Students

Tim M. Boettger

IÉSEG School of Management

Thomas Rudolph

University of St. Gallen

Date Written: April 19, 2019

Abstract

Subscription commerce emerged as an up-and-coming phenomenon in retailing that enables shoppers to automatically receive recurring deliveries of consumer goods. One important dimension along which subscription services differ is the degree to which the content of each delivery is surprising. This paper focuses on two archetypes at opposite ends of this dimension, namely predefined and curated surprise subscriptions, and juxtaposes them to conceptualize surprise as a retail mechanism. It is hypothesized that curated surprise subscriptions carry an inherent risk to receive unappealing products, as consumers outsource the decision-making process to the subscription provider, which can influence consumers’ choices and attitudes. Three studies explore the role of risk perception in consumers’ evaluation of consumer goods subscriptions. First, it was found that consumers prefer shorter delivery intervals for predefined subscriptions and longer delivery intervals for curated surprise subscriptions, in line with Prospect Theory. Second, empirical evidence for perceived risk as a mediating variable in this relation is provided. Finally, it is shown how retailers can manipulate associated risk through the introduction of a free-return option. The article is concluded by introducing a new typology of subscription services and discussing implications for managerial practice as well as avenues for future research.

Keywords: Subscription; Curation; Decision-Making; Risk; Interval.

Suggested Citation

Bischof, Severin Friedrich and Boettger, Tim M. and Rudolph, Thomas, Curated Subscription Commerce: A Theoretical Conceptualization (April 19, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3179355 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3179355

Severin Friedrich Bischof (Contact Author)

University of St. Gallen, Institute of Retail Management (IRM-HSG), Students ( email )

Dufourstrasse, 40a
St Gallen, 9000
Switzerland
712247188 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.alexandria.unisg.ch/persons/6701

Tim M. Boettger

IÉSEG School of Management ( email )

Socle de la Grande Arche
1 Parvis de la Defense
Puteaux, Paris 92800
France
+33 (0)320 545 892 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ieseg.fr

Thomas Rudolph

University of St. Gallen ( email )

University of St. Gallen
Dufourstrasse 50
St Gallen, St. Gallen CH-9000
Switzerland

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