Sales of SodaStream (SODA) products have started to turn around in Europe, and now it's hoping that home delivery can restore growth in the sluggish U.S. market. SodaStream launched Fizz Concierge in select Northeastern regions on Tuesday. The pilot program offers SodaStream owners the ability to exchange the carbonator cylinders that turn tap water into sparkling soda from the comfort of their own home.
Customers in the program can order two new CO2 cylinders that come with a pre-paid return box -- fulfilled through UPS (UPS -3.35%) -- when they're done. SodaStream expects to take Fizz Concierge national later this year.
Fizz Concierge accomplishes a couple of things. It helps SodaStream play out its eco-friendly branding, making it easier for customers to recycle their emptied carbonators. This is, after all, the company that has called out the major soda bottlers for the global waste they create with cans and bottles filling up landfills. SodaStream needs to walk the walk with its equally wasteful carbonator cylinders.
The home-based exchange program also makes the platform more convenient, and that will likely result in more folks fizzing up more often. If you're out of CO2, it may be days if not weeks before you muster up the motivation to head out to a home goods or office supply store to swap out your canister, and that time your carbonated-beverage maker spends collecting dust translates into lost business for SodaStream. The company may even lose you as a customer.
The beauty of the pre-paid mailers is that you're already committed to the carbonator swap before your first one even arrives. Every purchase comes with points that can be applied to future carbonator orders. The partnership with UPS makes it easy: You can schedule a UPS pickup at home if you don't have a convenient UPS drop-off location.
If Fizz Concierge makes you think of that time a decade ago when you used to receive DVDs in red pre-paid mailers, then you know that this model works.
SodaStream needs to win back stateside soda sippers. Revenue in the Americas suffered a 16% year-over-year decline in currency-adjusted sales during the holiday quarter. If sales continue to slip, it's only a matter of time before mainstream SodaStream distributors stop stocking its products, particularly its hefty carbonators -- another reason why Fizz Concierge is so important.
Most of SodaStream's sales are in Western Europe, a market that is already starting to rebound. If making the process easier for U.S. customers is the ticket to getting the Americas to follow suit, Fizz Concierge could be the game changer that SodaStream sorely needs right now.