Have you thought about the subscription box model for your product business? Curious about how it works, and whether your product business would be a good fit for it?
Moira Fuller, subscription box entrepreneur and Founder of Subscription Box Academy shares the key information you need to know to consider one…
How the Subscription Box model works
Subscription boxes work on a recurring basis – so when someone signs up for your box, payment will be taken from their account each month (or quarterly / another frequency that you choose) until they cancel the subscription.
Most boxes are flexible for customers, making it easy to cancel and resubscribe, and also offer multi-kit subscriptions for gifting, e.g., 1, 3, 6 month.
Many sub boxes also take payment in advance and make their boxes to order – so you’d have a cut-off date for customers to subscribe to get the next box, then it would be shipped 1-2 weeks later. This helps you keep your cashflow positive, and stops you having extra stock sat on the shelves, as you know exactly what to order.
It considerably helps your profit margins too – as you’re selling directly to customers, your margins are higher than they would be wholesale, and the recurring revenue stream (the average subscription length is 3 – 6 months) is a huge asset for business growth.
Subscription boxes are an amazing business model for product businesses, if your product line suits it.
Would a Subscription Box work for your product line?
Generally, people buy boxes for one of two key reasons:
– Curation / delight (including gifting)
– Recurring need (think food, drink, candle or shaving subscription boxes)
Or it could be a mixture of the two.
If you have a consumable product business, e.g., you create amazing chocolates, beautiful candles or skincare, this could work well for you.
A new flavour, scent or element of your range, arriving at a frequency that makes sense (i.e., how often are customers likely to consume what you send), will appeal to your loyal customers and create new ones.
If you run a non-consumable product business, you also need to consider how often your customers might use / need what you create.
Say you create wallpaper, or specialise in paintings of animals in military dress… it won’t be a huge surprise to hear me say that the subscription box model isn’t right for you.
Equally, if what you create has a price tag of £100+, your audience for a subscription will be more niche than when you can create a subscription box that retails at £35 or under (where many sub boxes price points fall).
So what does work? Here’s some of the key areas where subscription boxes see success:
– Homewares (especially smaller items)
– Jewellery (if your price points work)
– Food / Drink
– Pet / bird food
– Gardening supplies
– Hobby interests (e.g., sci-fi, horses, fly fishing)
– Candles / Aromatherapy / Home scents
– Curated Gifting / Self Care Boxes
This is not exhaustive, but an overview of some of the main niches.
Keep in mind, if you think your range isn’t the right fit for your own subscription box, you can always look to collaborate with another brand, or approach existing subscription boxes about being a supplier.
Excited about adding a subscription box to your business? Let’s look at the next steps.
How do you set up a Subscription Box?
There’s two parts to this – the logistics (how do I physically make it happen) and confirming that it’s what your customers want / deciding how you’ll delight them each box.
Before you jump into the logistics, test your assumptions first…
Speak to your existing loyal customers – is this of interest to them? What would they love to see? You want to learn exactly what would light them up. We go into this in depth in the first module of Subscription Box Academy as it’s a foundation stone to having a successful box.
Use what you learn as a base for making those key decisions about your box –
- What should you include?
- How often should you send the boxes?
- What would customers pay?
- And look for the golden nuggets of insightful information (the ones that send your spidey-senses tingling) to tweak the nuances of what you offer.
Then, let’s look at the logistics. You want to –
- Have an idea of the types of thing you’ll include in each box.
- Think about the customer unboxing experience.
- Make sure you’ve priced and budgeted correctly to make your boxes profitable.
- Consider your subscription box customer journey – what will happen / be communicated at each stage: this becomes a checklist to set up.
- Choose a recurring payment processor (there are plugins you can add to the major ecommerce websites).
- Think about how you’ll pack your boxes (one of the beautiful things about subscription boxes is that you can work with fulfilment centres much earlier, as you’ll be sending out one big mailing a month for your box).
- Think about customer retention (and the elements specific to subscription boxes) and the levers for growth.
There’s a lot there, but it’s all completely do-able, and can add a considerable income stream to your product business.
I hope this has given you clarity on whether the subscription box model would work for you – and has excited you if that’s a ‘Yes!’
If launching or growing a Subscription Box is of interest, you can learn more about Moira’s Subscription Box Academy programme and one-to-one coaching here.