November 21, 2012 via Wired Magazine by Sarah Mitroff – Blame it on Amazon, or on our increasing need to have everything work as fast and conveniently as our smartphones do, but subscription services boomed among consumers and the startup set in 2012. Sending some piece of fruit or bottle of wine at a regular cadence in the mail isn’t a new business model, but the latest crop of subscription services are tackling a wider set of our earthly desires and needs. From fresh razors in your mailbox to a mystery box of handmade goods, this has been the year of getting things delivered to your house automatically.

Most monthly subscription services fall into two categories: the curated box and the specific item. Companies like Birchbox, Citrus Lane, and Conscious Box load up boxes of products or samples that fit a certain theme, like kids’ crafts or eco-friendly goods. You don’t always know what’s in the box, which is half of the fun, and makes them great gifts. In the case of cosmetic and food curated boxes, you often get samples so you can try before you buy a full-size version later.

Then there are the specific-item services, which send you the stuff you use every day or week. Two well-known examples are ManPacks and Dollar Shave Club, which send out monthly shipments of underwear and razors respectively. They tend to attract the crowd of busy people who hate standing in line at the local Target, especially because once you sign up, you never have to reorder (as long as you keep paying your tab).

There’s no doubt that in 2012, both curated box and specific-item monthly subscriptions startups exploded. As with all waves of startups, some have been signing up users like mad, while others have struggled to keep the lights on. We’ve rounded up 15 of the best, most of which launched this year, so you can shop for yourself, or the folks on your gift list. Just whatever you do, skip the fruit-of-the-month club – no one wants those oranges anyway.

Checkout Wired’s 15 Best Subscription Services (including First Growth Graduate Birchbox) here


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