As the subscription commerce business continues to burgeon, three children’s fashion players — Kidpik, Runchkins and FabKids — are setting themselves apart.
Launched in February, Kidpik is the brainchild of Ezra Dabah, who is leveraging his industry expertise as CEO of Nina Footwear Corp. and the former chairman and CEO of The Children’s Place. Dabah’s site, which is dedicated to girls, allows customers to sign up to receive a curated box of fashion pieces as often as every month. “Subscription commerce, or push commerce as we call it, is totally new and different from the normal retail we know,” Dabah said. “We saw an opportunity to do something specific for kids.”
Kidpik’s customers complete a style quiz, and the brand’s team of stylists, guided by an algorithm, assembles a personalized assortment for the child. Each box contains six or seven coordinated pieces, including mix-and-match separates and dresses, a pair of shoes and accessories such as jewelry, belts and headbands. “Not only is [this shopping model] convenient for moms, but there is an excitement and an emotional experience for the girl when she receives the box in the mail because it’s wrapped like a gift and personalized to her,” Dabah explained, noting that customers are flocking to social media to share “unboxing” photos and videos.
Unlike Kidpik, which designs its own merchandise, newcomer Runchkins, whose site went live in March, offers a constantly changing mix of name-brand pieces sourced from around the world, including footwear collections such as Old Soles and Shoo Shoos. Founder and CEO Jeff Cheng said the element of discovery is a big part of the appeal of subscription boxes. “Parents are busy these days, and they don’t have time to hunt and shop all over for different brands and products to try,” he said. “We do that for them.”
Before a box is shipped out, Runchkins emails a preview with pictures of all the pieces, giving customers an opportunity to tweak their box selection. “You can switch out anything you don’t like or give us more direction,” Cheng explained. “It gives the customer more control.”
When kids outgrow their clothes and shoes, they can be returned to Runchkins for store credit (between 15 percent and 30 percent of the original purchase price) under the company’s guaranteed buyback service. For customers looking for more affordable options, Runchkins plans to eventually offer boxes featuring gently worn merchandise that is returned.
FabKids, one of the early entrants in the kids’ subscription fashion space, added footwear to its offering in 2014. Maggie Dawkins, VP of merchandising and production for the TechStyle Fashion Group-owned company, said the category has been a big hit with customers because it provides even greater convenience.
“Anytime a mom can get everything she needs in one click, it’s a win,” she said. “Shoes are one of those tricky categories: It’s hard to find brands that offer a broad assortment of both staples and fashion [looks]. Nearly half our VIP member orders include shoes, and we continue to grow this category.”
FabKids’ assortment is updated monthly, with looks offered across different fashion categories, among them boho chic and classic.