Starting a business can provide many benefits. For one, this endeavor can improve your financial health, as you can earn income every month and gradually build wealth. Starting a business also allows you to work with a flexible schedule and attain work-life balance. But with the number of businesses operating worldwide today, it’s difficult to decide which business model to follow.
Starting a subscription box company and offering subscription boxes to customers is a great business idea. The subscription box industry is gaining popularity worldwide, which means that you’ll have better chances of gaining customers and succeeding as an entrepreneur.
If the idea of starting a subscription box business interests you, this article can help. We will provide in-depth information on how you can start earning profit from offering subscription box services and manage challenges along the way.
Should I Start a Subscription Box Business?
The idea of starting a subscription box company is exciting, but many will still hesitate to take action because they don’t know a lot about the industry. Coming up with a subscription box idea is usually easy for aspiring entrepreneurs, but this isn’t enough for the subscription box company to thrive and succeed in the long run.
If you’re still having second thoughts and frequently ask yourself, “Should I start a subscription box business?” it might be best if you look into the advantages and challenges of this endeavor first. This information will allow you to gain a bigger and clearer picture of the industry and help you decide whether offering subscription box services is suitable for you.
Here are some of the advantages you can experience when you start a subscription box company.
1. More Consistent Feedback From Users
For a business to succeed, it should have the resources and willingness to improve. Your products and services today might help you earn profits and gain customers, but keep in mind that your offerings will not guarantee the same outcome in the future. The business industry and customer behavior are changing rapidly, and your business should learn how to keep up.
One of the biggest benefits you can experience when you start your subscription box company is the ability to gain more consistent feedback from users. When you offer monthly subscription box services to your customers, you’ll have 12 chances of gaining their feedback in a year.
Moreover, customers will be encouraged to give their feedback because they know that this information will be used to improve the products and services that they’re getting every month.
Feedback is vital for the success of any business. By getting consistent feedback from your users, you’ll be able to determine which among your offerings appeals and doesn’t appeal to them. This will help you improve your business and prevent you from spending resources on activities or investments that don’t improve your business.
2. Higher Purchase Frequency Means a Higher Likelihood of Being Referred to Others
Word-of-mouth is still considered one of the most effective marketing tools today because people trust referrals from their friends and family more than other types of advertising. People trust their friends and family and will be confident when trying out recommendations from them.
Being referred to others through word-of-mouth advertising is another benefit you can experience when you offer a subscription boxes service. Most customers will make recurring payments in order to receive a subscription box every month in a quarter or a year.
Since customers will regularly receive products delivered in subscription box packaging, your brand will be on their mind much more often compared to other business models that are only asking them to make one-time purchases. The more memorable your brand is, the easier it’ll be for your customers to recommend your subscription box company to their friends and family.
3. Build Good Customer Relationships
Customers are key to the success of your business. Without them, you won’t be able to earn profits from your subscription box idea and stand out from the competition. The satisfaction of your customers can also make or break the brand your business creates in the industry.
Offering subscription box services allows you to build good customer relationships and have the avenue to know them better because subscriptions usually run for a year. During this time, you can easily learn what products have the most value to them and what changes they are expecting from your business. The information you can acquire from your customers enables you to improve your subscription box model or prototype box and retain customers in the long run.
When starting a subscription box company, it’s also important that you understand and consider the following challenges.
1. High Levels of Competition
Customers are willing to pay for shipping costs as long as they experience convenience whenever they buy their most loved products every month. Shipping costs might be an additional expense, but a lot of customers think that paying for it is cheaper rather than going to the store to personally buy products. This kind of mindset is one of the reasons why more and more customers are signing up for subscription box services.
The increasing number of customers paying for subscription box services has motivated entrepreneurs to start their own subscription box companies, so expect to enter the industry with several competitors. Regardless of the types of products you want to include in your subscription box packaging, expect that many other businesses have been selling the same for years.
Competition is one of the biggest drawbacks you’ll experience when you start a subscription box company. In this industry, expect that you’ll have to compete with household brands and implement strategies that will outshine them. This is crucial for your subscription box company to succeed.
2. Struggle to Maintain Novelty and Excitement
Having customers who will pay for your subscription box service for years can be very beneficial for your business. These customers can bring profits for your business and attract new customers as well.
However, maintaining novelty in your subscription box packaging and keeping customers excited whenever they receive a subscription box model from your business can be challenging. Sure, you can easily accomplish these tasks during the first months of their subscription. But do you know how to keep the momentum going after a few years?
The ability to offer novelty and continually excite customers is another challenge subscription box company owners face. Customers who will get bored from your subscription box model will eventually end their subscription under your brand and choose offerings from your competitors.
3. Uncertainty of Income Because Customers Can Cancel
The term “customer churn” is common in the subscription box industry. This term refers to the cancellation of subscriptions often made by customers abruptly. This means that customers can easily cancel their subscription under your brand anytime they want.
The increasing rates of customer churn can result in uncertainty of income. When customers cancel their subscription under your brand, you’ll lose profits, especially if several customers do it at the same time.
For business owners who have been in the industry for decades, this might not be a problem, but if you’re going to enter the industry and experience customer churn during the first year of your operations, recovering from the financial loss can be tough. In worst-case scenarios, customer churn can become the reason why your subscription box company will be short-lived and you end up in debt.
When starting a subscription box company, you should not only focus on the benefits you can experience from this endeavor; you should look at the other side of the coin and consider the challenges you’ll have along the way.
Aside from helping you determine whether this kind of business suits your expectations, knowing the positive and negative sides of starting a subscription box business will also help you prepare ahead of time. Challenges are present in every industry, but being prepared will help your business get through the tough times and attain long-term success.
What Can You Sell Through a Subscription Box Business?
If you’ve read the previous section and are still confident that your subscription box idea will fly, it’s now time to ask, “What can you sell through a subscription box business?” Selecting the products to include in your subscription boxes is important, as these can significantly affect your ability to acquire new customers, retain old ones, and earn profits. The items you’ll sell will also influence a person’s decision to place a subscription order under your brand.
If you’re still clueless on what to sell through a subscription box business, you can consider the following ideas.
1. Books and Toys for Kids
Books and toys are important for kids, as these can affect their growth and development. Books can stimulate kids’ curiosity and spark their imagination. Toys, on the other hand, help kids learn how to play and share with others. A child’s creativity and problem-solving skills can also improve when they regularly play with toys.
If you want your business to participate in children’s learning and development, offer books and toys through your subscription box business. Aside from the parents, these subscription boxes will also make it easier for relatives to send gifts to children in their families, especially if they’re not living nearby.
2. Jewelry-Making Kits
Spending time on hobbies is a great way to declutter the mind and de-stress the body. Hobbies can also encourage people to take a break, take on new challenges and experiences, and maximize another avenue to earn money during their leisure.
A lot of people are now looking for hobbies that are easy and fun, and you can meet this demand by selling jewelry-making kits through your subscription box business. The materials used in jewelry making are usually expensive, as these are purchased in bulk. These materials are also hard to find, as they are not commercially available everywhere.
Selling jewelry-making kits through your subscription box business is a great business idea because customers will often choose to pay for services rather than exert time and effort to look for and buy materials for their hobbies.
3. Cooking Subscription Boxes
Cooking is an essential skill because it affects one’s health and wellness. It’ll be easier for someone to lose or gain weight when they know how to cook, as they can customize their meals based on their nutritional requirements and fitness goals.
Knowing how to cook is important, yet most people struggle to learn this skill because they lack the necessary resources and materials. Someone who wants to try out Thai cuisine, for example, might be able to see tutorial videos online but will likely have a hard time finding ingredients, depending where they live.
If you want cooking to be easier for the Average Joe or Jane, sell cooking subscription boxes. Depending on your target audience, your subscription boxes can include recipes, ingredients, and utensils necessary for cooking dishes from a specific cuisine (the Caribbean, Morrocan, or Thai cuisines are great options) or ingredients that can be easily cooked in the microwave.
4. Chocolate Subscription Boxes
According to statistics, over one billion people eat chocolates every single day. Aside from being a sweet treat, individuals worldwide are fond of eating chocolates because it causes the release of certain hormones in the brain and makes them feel good. Chocolates can also improve one’s mood, which is why it is often eaten by people who are stressed or sad.
Selling chocolate subscription boxes is another great way to earn money from your subscription box business. With the number of people who regularly indulge in this sweet treat, you won’t have any problems entering this niche market and gaining customers.
5. Pet Subscription Boxes
Pets being spoiled and treated like a child is no longer new. Pets getting treats several times during the day and being dressed in colorful patterns are common scenarios in homes, local parks, and even on social media.
If you are interested in pets, why not offer pet subscription boxes? Providing all sorts of products to pets will surely appeal to pet owners, especially if these products are not accessible in their locations.
Aside from catering to cats and dogs, you can also gain more customers in your subscription box business when you offer products to other pets and display these on an e-commerce store. A lot of people have fishes, hamsters, ferrets, birds, and reptiles as their pets, so make sure that you also offer a box for them.
6. Baby Clothes
Parenting can be challenging for many, as they have to balance their time and energy between different responsibilities. More often than not, parents will have to feed their children and ensure that their homes are well-maintained. Some parents might even have to work full-time on top of these responsibilities.
The busy schedule of parents is one of the reasons why they can no longer shop for their baby’s clothes, and your subscription box can be the solution to their dilemma. You can include baby clothes in your subscription boxes, as these will surely appeal to busy parents.
If you want your subscription box to have more variety, you can also include a few toys and footwear (socks and shoes). Teethers, bibs, and headbands can also be added to your subscription box.
7. Sports Subscription Boxes
Playing sports can do wonders for the mind and body, including help people sleep better, build connections with other people, and improve their mental health. Adults and children will also change their schedules just to play sports, as this activity can help them reduce stress.
To help people attain optimal health and wellness, offer sports subscription boxes to them. Taking this direction will not only allow you to earn profits from your subscription box business; this will also make it easy for your customers to stay active by playing sports.
When offering sports subscription boxes, you can focus on providing goods for a specific sport, like basketball, climbing, soccer, or tennis, or mix and match between different sports.
8. Vitamins Subscription Boxes
The human body requires specific vitamins every day in order to function properly. And while some people have the time and interest to prepare their meals from scratch, others are too busy to spend time in their kitchens. People who belong to the latter category can become your target audience when you choose to sell vitamin subscription boxes.
Selling different vitamins as part of your subscription box business will encourage customers to improve or maintain their health, as products are delivered to their doorsteps. Offering vitamin subscription boxes is also ideal if you have an existing online business that sells vitamins and other types of supplements.
9. Gardening Subscription Boxes
Gardening is a very rewarding hobby because aside from reducing stress and helping fight diseases, this activity also enables a person to improve the aesthetics of their property. Homeowners who spend time gardening can eventually enjoy a home with a better landscape and an investment with a higher value.
Not everyone has a green thumb, but offering gardening subscription boxes will surely help others get into gardening. Gardening subscription boxes that contain planting and plant care information along with seeds and organic pest control products will encourage your customers to take on gardening and ensure that they’re doing it right, even if it’s their first time trying out the activity.
10. Dental Care Subscription Boxes
A person’s dental health is important because it affects their overall wellness and quality of life. Having diseased or missing teeth can prevent someone from speaking properly and might even impact one’s mental health. Moreover, gum diseases can also cause loss of teeth and other infections that can damage other parts of the body.
To motivate your customers to better take care of their mouths, offering dental care subscription boxes is a great solution. Your subscription box can include traditional oral care products, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, and mouthwash, or provide more sophisticated products to your customers, like electric toothbrushes and whitening strips.
How Do You Create Excitement for Your New Subscription Business?
As mentioned, the subscription box industry is saturated with countless businesses today. Regardless of how unique or innovative your products are, it’s safe to assume that several businesses have been selling the same for years. Some of these businesses might already have built a fortune from selling subscription boxes.
Once you’ve decided what products to include in your subscription box, it’s now time to implement strategies that will create excitement for your new subscription box business. These strategies are vital, as they affect your ability to attract and gain customers and earn profits long-term. Your subscription box business won’t thrive long-term if it doesn’t create a bang when it enters the industry.
Three exciting strategies to incorporate in your subscription marketing are listed below.
1. Maximize Content Marketing
Businesses and customers have become more reliant on the internet. Businesses are spending resources to improve their Facebook ads and SEO rank online. On the other hand, before a customer tries out a new product, they will search for it online and read through reviews.
Your competitors and subscription customers are visible online, which is why you should maximize content marketing through the same platform. Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to create excitement for your new subscription business, as this allows the online community to know about your existence and learn more about your subscription boxes.
When using content marketing, always start by knowing who your target audience is. If you decided to sell baby clothes for your subscription box business, then your articles should highlight the pain points of parents and how your products can make their lives easier. If you want to offer gardening supplies, your content can focus on the struggles of being a new gardener and how your products can help them succeed even as a first-timer.
2. Work With Influencers
Countless entrepreneurs have started their subscription box business, and many of them choose to market their products online. In fact, many businesses implement robust and complex e-commerce subscription models to attract online users to their subscription boxes.
If you want to outshine the competition and immediately attract online users with your new products, work with influencers to create excitement for your new subscription business. Influencers are individuals who have spent years acquiring knowledge on a particular niche and have the power to affect the purchasing decisions of their followers.
Working with influencers will make it very easy for you to gain subscription customers because their followers already trust them. This means that you don’t have to start from scratch to build a name in the online community or gain thousands of followers to introduce your new product to. Collaborating with an influencer will allow you to achieve these things quickly.
Since there are many influencers today, make sure that you work with someone who has the same target audience as you. If you’re going to sell subscription boxes to parents, look for influencers who have successfully established connections with parents worldwide. If your subscription boxes are meant for pet owners, make sure that the influencer has followers who are also pet owners.
3. Offer a Free Trial
Convincing the public to try out a new product is challenging, especially if they’ve been loyal to a particular brand for years. A lot of customers don’t want to waste money on products or services that they’re unsure of.
Another way to create excitement for your new subscription business is by offering a free trial. Since customers don’t have to pay anything, they’ll be encouraged to subscribe. You can then upsell and turn them into subscription customers by letting them know that they can continue to experience the same products and services by paying a certain amount every month.
Offering free trials enables customers to learn what they’re getting into and personally experience your subscription box before making a commitment. This is also a great way to engage with your customers, as you can initiate conversations based on their experience with your subscription boxes.
What Are Some Insider Tips for Jump Starting a Subscription Box Business?
The subscription box industry is saturated with several businesses, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t start one of your own and succeed. On the contrary, starting a subscription box business is a great endeavor because it opens opportunities for personal and professional growth. This business can also help you become financially independent.
Starting a subscription box business can improve the quality of your life in many ways, especially if you know how to jump start this endeavor. Having an idea of how the industry works and the kind of products you want to include in your subscription boxes will be useless if you don’t have an action plan.
Here are some insider tips to help you jumpstart a subscription box business.
1. Narrow Down Your Idea and Niche
Regardless of how tempting it is, you should never start a subscription box business with the goal to provide to different niches. It’ll be challenging for you to succeed in this endeavor if you strive to cater to many different niches.
For you to jump start your subscription box business, start by narrowing down your idea and niche. Depending on your preferences, you can choose to become a beauty brand by offering different types of makeup products to adults or provide apparel for kids. Adults and kids need different products, and trying to cater to all of these can pour your resources down the drain.
2. Determine Your Ideal Customers
After narrowing down your idea and niche, you need to determine who your ideal customer is. It’ll be easier for your subscription box business to operate if you’re very specific about who your products are for. Knowing your ideal customer will also help you determine which marketing strategies to use and what business idea will appeal the most to them.
Determining your ideal customers means researching your target audience. You should know the age of your ideal customers, their income level, and their preferred social media platform. You should also know their daily struggles and where they usually shop for products.
Once you’ve researched about your ideal customers, you won’t have any problems making sound decisions, such as determining whether to use Twitter or Facebook when marketing your subscription box business.
3. Price Your Boxes Correctly
Pricing your subscription boxes properly is one of the most important responsibilities you’ll have when you start your subscription box business. Pricing your products too high can shoo away potential customers, while pricing it too low can prevent you from earning profits.
When pricing your subscription boxes and deciding on subscription billing, it’s important that you benchmark on the prices set by your competitors but make sure that yours are different. It’ll be challenging for your own subscription box business to build a brand in the market if your products are priced too similar to your competitors.
Aside from paying attention to the price tag of your competitors, it’s also important to consider the following when pricing your subscription boxes:
- Customer acquisition costs
- Fixed costs, such as costs incurred from email marketing, software platforms, and web hosting services.
- Price and quantity of the products inside your subscription boxes
- Price of the actual box and other packaging materials
- Shipping fees (if you’re going to charge shipping to your customers)
4. Understand Shipping and Its Costs
When you start a subscription box business, you need to understand how shipping works and how this can significantly impact your costs. Offering your subscription boxes to customers outside of your city, country, and state is always a great business idea, but keep in mind that this will require you to pay more for shipping. The farther away your customers are, the more money you’ll have to spend on shipping.
If you want to save money on shipping costs without compromising the quality of the products inside your subscription boxes, spend some time scouting for options. There are many couriers today, and each offers different rates for delivering products to different locations. Compare which among these couriers allows you to save money and use their service when sending subscription boxes to different locations.
5. Design or Create Your Box
Because first impressions last, it’s important that you pay attention to the appearance of your subscription box. Regardless of how beneficial the products are, if these are packed in a sloppy or boring box, don’t expect that customers will continue subscribing to your business. How your subscription box looks the moment customers receive it in their hands can influence how they look at your subscription box business.
To create a positive and long-lasting brand in the market, pour in resources in designing your box and look for a quality wholesale supplier. Your customers should be impressed the moment they receive your subscription box and be very excited to open it and see what’s inside.
There are many ways for you to design your subscription box. You can invest in white or cardboard boxes and then place your logo at the center or have your boxes customized based on the colors or symbols prevalent in your logo or brand. You can also buy several boxes and then have your brand name printed on the front or have it printed in a ribbon to wrap the box.
You’ll never run out of options or ideas when it comes to designing and creating your subscription boxes. You just need to think out of the box (pun intended) so that your packaging will be unique and memorable in the eyes of your customers.
6. Create Your Social Channels
Billions of people use social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, every single day, which is why it’s important that you also create your social channels. Being active on different social media platforms will allow you to showcase your business idea, find your ideal customers, and improve your customer service.
But with the number of social media platforms available today, it’s best if you focus on one or two accounts first. Creating several profiles at the same time will likely result in stale or outdated content as you won’t have the time to post regularly. Instead of taking your subscription box business off the ground, outdated social media profiles will also put your business in a bad light.
7. Create an Epic Website
Aside from creating an online presence on various social media platforms, it’s also important to create an epic website solely for your subscription box business. Since you can personalize your website based on your needs, you can use this platform to launch your business and products and provide customer service. You can also use your website as an online brochure and accept orders and payments online on the same platform as well.
Most subscription box businesses have been using websites for years, so you should make yours different and unique. You can achieve this goal by carefully creating the header section, as this is the first thing people will see when they visit your website. Ideally, your header section should have a wide banner, value statement, and call to action.
Another section you should add to your website is one that details the products included in your subscription boxes. These details should include images and descriptions of your products. This section will make it easier for online users to know more about your business and determine if your products are something that they actually need.
Most importantly, your website should also display at least one testimonial from a happy and satisfied customer. Adding social proof to your website will help your business engage with online users, as these testimonials can evoke their emotions and prove the legitimacy of your subscription box business.
Preparation Is Key
Wanting to start a subscription box business is one thing, and knowing how to turn that desire into a revenue-generating activity is another. The former is an easy decision to make, but the latter requires more time and effort to become a reality. This is especially true if you’re still a novice business person.
To simplify the process of starting a subscription box business, take note of the information presented in this article and use it as a guide. Your subscription box business will have better chances of succeeding if you enter the industry knowing what to expect. It’ll be easier for you to find solutions to challenges if you have a better picture of how the industry works.
If you liked this article, you’ll probably want to read this one: Crowdfunding Your Startup