In Andrea Bright’s home, Kleenex tissues, Charmin toilet paper and Glad trash bags have all been replaced by one brand: Prince & Spring.
Never heard of it? It’s the 3-year-old house brand from Boxed.com, one among many new lines from online retailers vying to be the next private-label juggernaut. Think Costco’s Kirkland Signature or Kroger’s Simple Truth, but for online shoppers only.
Online retailers are creating their own brands for the same reason brick-and-mortar stores have long done so: They make a bigger profit, and the items help attract and keep customers. Jet.com launched Uniquely J last fall. Amazon now has Wickedly Prime, AmazonBasics and several other brands. And one new website, Brandless.com, has gone even further. Adamant that it’s not a private label, it nonetheless sells only its own goods such as toothpaste, tampons and trail mix.
For shoppers, who may see the new brands atop their search results, the online-only store labels can offer cost savings on basics, organic items they can’t find in nearby stores, or a change from products they see everywhere.
Bright, an academic counselor from Mattoon, Illinois, started buying Prince & Spring products about two years ago. They cost less, she says, and she finds them to be “very good quality.”
Since online retailers don’t have store shelves, they find other ways to get their labels in front of customers. Sites design packaging that pop on screens (Jet, for example, hired a tattoo artist for Uniquely J coffee labels). Some use organic ingredients or recycled materials to stand apart, while others ship boxes of free samples to hook shoppers.
In a box from Jet last December, Rachel Simpson got freebies: two Uniquely J sauces, including a Sriracha one.
“That was a pleasant surprise,” says Simpson, a data entry clerk who lives in Jonesboro, Arkansas. She frequently buys another brand of Sriracha…