Will paid perks pay off for Williams Sonoma?
Williams Sonoma has launched a new paid membership program, Williams Sonoma Reserve, costing $99 annually that includes free shipping and experiential perks.
As usual in such programs, the perks are expected to more than cover the annual fee. The perks include access to four of the brand’s virtual cooking classes ($80 value) during the 12-month period and a subscription to a new Williams Sonoma Recipes app ($39.99 value).
The recipes app features exclusive content, how-to videos and tools that assist with building grocery lists and creating virtual recipe boxes.
Free shipping excludes home, furniture and any other oversized item that come with shipping surcharges. Members save on shipping fees that range from over 30 percent for orders under $25 to 11 percent for orders over $150.
The standard bearer of membership programs is Amazon Prime, which costs $119 per year for free two-day shipping, same-day delivery on certain items for orders over $35 plus extra privileges like video/music streaming and Whole Foods discounts.
Last October, Walmart introduced a $98-a-year Walmart Plus subscription providing free grocery delivery from stores on orders over $35, free shipping on non-perishable items and fuel and pharmacy discounts. Some grocers have also rolled out paid membership programs supporting free shipping, but paid membership programs among specialty chains are rare.
Those already offering free shipping with no minimums without any membership include Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Zappos. For most, free shipping kicks in above an order threshold. Some chains such as Gap offer free shipping to bigger spenders in their loyalty programs.
Best Buy’s Totaltech subscription program charges members $199.99 a year for free delivery and standard installation, free Geek Squad tech support, up to 24 months of product protection on most purchases and early access to hot launch products.
Barnes & Noble Membership, costing $25 annually, earns free shipping, 40 percent off hardcover bestsellers in-store, 10 percent off everything in store and early access to in-store events.
Urban Outfitters began testing a paid subscription program earlier this year offering free shipping and returns as well as other benefits across its brands.
- Williams Sonoma Launches New Shipping Membership Program Williams Sonoma Reserve And New Williams Sonoma Recipes App – Williams Sonoma
- Meet Walmart+ – Walmart
- Best Buy Totaltech now available nationwide – Best Buy
- B&N Membership – Barnes & Noble
- Urban Outfitters Inc (URBN) Q4 2020 Earnings Call Transcript – The Motley Fool
- Urban Outfitters Pilots Paid Membership Program – RIS News
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think Williams Sonoma’s annual subscription program will hold enough appeal for enough of its customers? Will more special stores feel the need to launch paid membership programs backed by free shipping in the years ahead or will they opt for other ways to maintain shopper loyalty?