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The New York Times reports this morning that a growing number of e-tailers are using auto-replenishment programs to allow consumers to sign up for regularly scheduled shipments of a wide range of consumer products.

While vitamins and supplements were the first categories to be exploited in this way, as it was fairly easy to figure out how often a shopper's cabinet needed to be restocked, these days the initiative has been extended to items such as diapers, pet foods, razor blades, tanning lotions and even steaks.
KC's View:
The interesting thing about these programs is that they tend to be instituted by companies other than mainstream firms with brick-and-mortar presences…which means that by and large they probably are cutting into the regular dollars spent by consumers in grocery stores, drug stores, and other, similar formats.

We have long thought that one of the ways that such retailers should reward top shoppers is through a regular auto-replenishment program for items such as, say, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, and the like -- items that are a pain in the neck to pick up, fairly bulky in size, and that don’t go bad when left in the garage or front porch for a time. Free deliveries of such items to top shoppers' homes would be a great way to establish greater connectivity to their lives and needs, and a way to ensure that they are not going to other outlets for those items.

And, it would serve as a great foundation on which to build additional transactions.