The subscription business model has been around for centuries. The aristocracy in sixteenth century Britain used to subscribe to cartographers so they received the very latest maps of the world as the borders of the British Empire were being redrawn.
Your grandparents may have subscribed to a regular coal delivery to heat their house.
But these days, the adoption of the subscription business model is rapidly accelerating, with companies like Amazon, HP, Apple and Target joining many of the globe's most promising start-ups in using the subscription business model.
Why is there so much interest in subscriptions? Subscribers improve the value of your company, create a steady cash flow, and increase the lifetime value of a customer. The movement is fuelled by software that makes it easy to track and bill customers monthly, and suddenly everything from cabbage to condoms is available by subscription.
I recently finished writing a book on the subscription business model and through my research I discovered 20 surprising things you can subscribe to:
If you like fancy thank you cards and beautiful stationery, you can subscribe to a curated package of new stationery shipped to your door each month from Austin-based Nicely Noted.
Toronto-based Koge will send you a regular shipment of your favourite vitamins without you ever having to visit a pharmacy.
Instead of going down to the local community center, you can learn to paint (or draw or sculpt) from New Masters Academy, a subscription-based art education website.
BarkBox, co-founded by Matt Meeker of MeetUp fame, will send you a box of dog treats and toys every month, ideal for what Meeker calls "Dog Parents" to set the devoted dog lover apart from mere dog owners.
H. Bloom targets spas, restaurants and hotels that need a delivery of fresh-cut flowers every couple of weeks.
BlackSocks.com will sell you a "sockscription" to receive a regular delivery of black dress socks for the executive who is always trying to find a matching pair.
If you have a thing for chocolate, you can subscribe to a regular delivery of fancy treats from Standard Cocoa.
If you're tired of getting a "honey do" list every weekend, why not hire Hassle Free Home Services. They will keep your three-bedroom house in tip-top shape for around $400 a month.
If you live in the south and are tired of swatting mosquitoes on your patio, subscribe to a regular treatment from Mosquito Squad whose franchisees will come to your home every three weeks to spray.
Subscribe to Faith Box and get a monthly delivery of quotes, scripture and action items to help you live a more pious life.
Sumo Jerky hunts for the best beef jerky on the planet (who gets that job?) and will deliver a regular shipment to your front door once a month.
Amazon paid $540 million to buy Quidsi, the parent of Diapers.com. Now Jeff Bezos will sell you a regular shipment of Huggies delivered to your front door.
Dollar Shave Club practically invented the men's care subscription category with their offer of a regular shipment of razor blades. Now Dollar Shave Club has expanded into offering "One Wipe Charlies" on subscription.
Australians can subscribe to OPSM's "Subscription Value Plan," which promises to send you new contact lens on an evergreen subscription.
PetFoodDirect.com will ship you a box of kibble each month, eliminating the need for a last minute trip to the grocery store when Rover runs out.
For $3 a month, GrooveBook will send you a beautiful 4.5″ x 6.5″ photo book featuring up to 100 of the pictures you upload to their ap every month.
HP Instant Ink is an ink cartridge replacement service where the granddaddy of Silicon Valley will send you an ink refill based on the number of pieces of paper you print each month.
For $10 a month, Birchbox will send you a curated collection of cosmetic samples. Discover something you like? You can buy the full size version on the Birchbox website.
You can subscribe to The Wood Whisperer membership website for advice on becoming an amateur cabinet maker.
Starting in 2015, AMC Theatres is experimenting with an all-you-can-watch theatre subscription where you can go to the movies as often as you like for one monthly subscription.
My new book, The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business In Any Industry, will be released February 5th, 2015. Pre-order a copy before the release date and you will receive three free gifts.