US retail giant Target recently launched a free subscription delivery service for baby supplies, allowing shoppers to set up recurring deliveries for nappies or formula on a schedule of their choosing.

This move sees Target become the latest major US retailer to join the likes of Amazon and Walmart in harnessing the benefits of subscription services. It also signifies a fundamental shift in strategy among businesses, as customer habits continue to evolve. In a society where convenience is key, I wonder whether the tradition of the weekly shop is in question.

It is only a matter of time before similar services are extended to other bulky household products such as washing powder and tinned goods, potentially rendering the headache of the weekly shop a thing of the past. With the growing demand for convenient and time-saving services, retailers are once again being forced to rethink their approach to customer relationships.

When Tesco launched Clubcard in 1994, it transformed the way retailers connect with customers. Loyalty cards have also given retailers a wealth of information about customer purchasing habits. But this should be used to do more than simply provide discounts on regularly purchased items. If an item is bought weekly, the retailer should surely offer a subscription package to automatically deliver it.

In a recent survey of 293 business executives in the US, UK and Australia, 75% reported that they have seen changes in how their customers want to access their services, with price and convenience key drivers of demand.

Retailers who integrate alternative pricing and delivery options into their business models can create customer loyalty that generates recurring revenue. Twelve per cent said subscription services already represented more than half their revenue and critically, 84% anticipated it would increase over the next two years.

The subscription economy opens up a worldwide market conservatively estimated at $500bn. That spells a significant opportunity for retailers that engage with it early - and a major change in shopping behaviour that could mark the beginning of the end for the weekly shop.

Kevin Kimber is vice president of EMEA at Zuora