Home Articles Shaking up subscriptions: Q & A with Blake Hutchison from AgendaSelects

Shaking up subscriptions: Q & A with Blake Hutchison from AgendaSelects


Awesome goods can be hard to find. I mean, I love a good macaroon as much as the next guy, but sourcing good ones is something I don’t always have time for.

It’s just the type of goodie that works great as part of a monthly subscription service, which is a business model that is popping up in a big way.

Originating primarily from the US over the past few years, curated subscription services are now a runaway hit in Australia. While there are plenty of subscriptions popping up all over the country, one in particular is innovating in the already novel realm. AgendaSelects brings curated convenience to Australian consumers, while making it easier than ever for partner brands to deliver goods to said shoppers.

Recently, Blake Hutchison from AgendaSelects told Anthill about the rise of the subscription model and his company’s ambitious twist on the curated concept.

Here’s what he told us:

So, how did AgendaSelects get started?

Great brands have little control and even less information about their customers. We had started a small subscription commerce service called uTaste which enabled a food loving customer to discover quality food product delivered monthly. Not only did we see value in the recurring use model from day one but we were able to learn a lot about these customers.

We wanted to provide the same abilities to great household and local brands so that they could drive recurring revenues, activate existing customers, acquire new customers and develop a knowledge base.

Now, we aim to be the largest marketplace for subscription commerce globally.

Who’s your audience?

Initially, great brands – AgendaSelects will drive recurring revenue from existing and new customers.

There are two types of subscriptions that  define our merchants and ultimately subscribers also: Replenishment: products and brands you already know and frequently buy; and, Discovery: exploration and discovery of products and brands of an interest set, i.e. wine, cheese, cosmetics, skin care.

You’re covering multiple niches – food, fashion, lifestyle, and more. Does that give you a broader audience? Do you find a lot of subscribers opting in for both beer and Stonemen skivvies

These are not really niches. We’ll have the largest collection of products available for purchase on subscription. That means we’ll own subscription commerce across verticals including food, health, beauty and fashion.  We want to power a subscription commerce service for over 1000 Australian brands and many more worldwide.

Our merchants support the model by directly asking their existing customers to subscribe. The value they derive from a subscriber is far greater than a single purchase. Furthermore, there is no point of sale system worldwide that enables recurring purchases. These brands can now expect a lot more from their direct and online marketing efforts.

You’re right. Someone subscribing to receive boutique beer delivered monthly is unlikely to buy an underwear subscription. That’s ok though. Typically these customers will come from a direct source to a specific subscription; either the merchant direct, us or one of our partner sites.

Incrementally, we may find that a member of a cheese club may also become a member of a wine club. That’s where the marketplace proposition comes in…We’ll be helping our brands find new relevant customers.

It looks like all of your packages are available on an on-going basis. Is that right? All of them will continue?

That’s absolutely the case. These are not deals, they are subscriptions. The products that you already love with the convenience of home delivery set and forget billing and incentives for being a loyal ongoing subscriber.

It looks like you’re growing and expanding (notably with health and beauty to come). You’re even asking product makers to opt-in as partners. One could imagine that you might be able to get many to want in. Has that been the case so far?

Scalability is key. We will enable brands to self-serve and set up their own subscription. We will always have some level of approval. Let’s face it, some brands you will never ever subscribe to. At this stage we are picking the brands we think have either a vocal, local and / or loyal following or have a product particularly relevant from a subscription perspective.

Aside from the things you’re covering now, what else could you see Agenda Selects curating? 

We asked our customers what they’d subscribe to. They’ve said:

  • cheese clubs
  • wine clubs
  • muesli
  • meats
  • herbs and spices
  • their favourite skin brand
  • vitamins
  • basics like socks and jocks

This is all about offering a convenient new way to shop that rewards brand advocacy.

The curated model is really huge right now. What do you think drives that success?

To truly curate something implies a focus on quality.

Similarly, subscription commerce is an ‘engagement driven model’. To subscribe to something implies you have an actual interest in what you are buying and it’s not just about cost.

We ‘all’ lost our way there for a minute, in a fascination for over-blown discounting and deal chasing. That’s not sustainable and certainly not curated.

Melbourne City Rooftop Honey, intriguing. Please discuss.

Melbourne City Rooftop honey is one of our partners. Their customers love their honey and there’s a great story to it. It’s quite literally honey from rooftops across Melbourne. They are short on retailers and a subscription service breaks down geographies and gives their honey lovers the opportunity to subscribe to a great product. Some people eat lots of honey; they can now subscribe to get monthly deliveries.
They are the first of many honey brands we’ll have on offer via subscription.

So can you underline all the differences in the expected curated model and your subscription service? It seems quite different.

It’s very different. While subscription commerce is a big thing right now it’s typically been thought of in the context of a beauty sampling box. We like those businesses and think there is a big place for those businesses but ultimately we do believe they will have supply side challenges. You can only ever find so many free samples.

We’re offering a bigger solution; it’s scalable. Lots of great brands have loyal customers who have established use patterns. Now every great brand can now be consumed as a subscription.  As mentioned, they do this to drive recurring revenue for the merchant and greater control over their highest value customers.

We are a marketing platform not just a technology. Brands use us to quickly deploy and operate in the subscription commerce ecosystem. We then work with them to expose them to their existing customers, drive brand distribution arrangements and build a content presence.

How does your team celebrate its successes? Some of those devilish macaroons or ganaches all around?

Typically it’s a bottle of bubbles, a plate of cheese and some barefoot grape squashing.

Seconded anyone?

It seems that companies like AgendaSelects are still filling out what the modern subscription model can be. So, the question comes to mind: what other items can the Anthillian masses envision as working for the subscription/curated model?

Think it could work for your brand?