How to Start a Box Subscription Service

by Sean Ross

5 min read

Consumers get excited over subscription box services and love receiving boxes filled with all sorts of goodies. This multibillion-dollar industry is highly competitive but has plenty of room for savvy entrepreneurs armed with great ideas and plenty of moxie to carry them out. Learn how to start a box subscription business from concept to delivery with this comprehensive quick guide.

Curation and Your Niche Idea

Imagine you’ve been put in charge of a huge store, and it’s your job to select the best products for customers every month. You’re not making the products. Your job is to act as a curator on behalf of people eager for a unique experience. Curation is exactly what you’ll be doing when you put together a subscription box.If you’re scratching your head trying to figure out a niche, try starting with general categories of interest such as food, beauty, clothing, crafts, and toys. Narrow down your ideas to get to those smaller categories that provide more opportunity to stand out. Uniqueness is key to long-term success.

Profile Your Target Customers

Before you create your subscription box, it’s a good idea to know who is most likely to buy it. Research your niche of interest to discover what type of customer is likely to be interested in your box. Take this information and create a targeted customer profile. This profile includes gender, age, income, and lifestyle data. Everything your business does must focus on attracting your ideal customers and keeping them happy.

Check Out the Competition

The box subscription market has exploded in recent years, and there are thousands of companies competing for customers. To survive, your boxes must have something the others lack. Finding out what this is requires doing some good old-fashioned snooping. Check out popular boxes in your niche, and order a few to see what’s inside. As a customer, you’ll be able to spot weaknesses to exploit.Reading customer reviews is another way to find out what customers like and don’t like about your competitors.

Find Startup Cash

Although the box subscription business is relatively easy to get into, you’re going to need a decent amount of startup funds. These days crowdfunding is the “go-to” solution for many startup companies. Browse crowdfunding platforms to find one that fits your needs best. You can also go old school, asking family and friends to cough up some cash to help make your dream come true.

Sourcing and Choosing Products

Finding great products to put inside your boxes month after month is key to making a big splash in this business. You must become a master at finding quality products from various sources to keep your customers interested. There’s no subscription box wholesale store to visit, so you’ll be striking out on your own, and curating using your gut instincts.Let’s say you’re offering beauty boxes, and you need cool beauty products and accessories. The way to find suitable products is to browse the aisles of local stores that carry beauty products, visit online beauty websites, and subscribe to publications that provide industry news about new product releases. Industry trade shows are another excellent place to find unique beauty products. Regardless of niche, you can follow these sourcing tips for any type of product.

Start Your Prelaunch

Starting out small, you don’t need to have everything in place to launch your new company. Grow buzz for your boxes quickly using a one-page website, email sign-up box, and social media marketing. Announce your prelaunch on your website page, and ask for sign-ups. Next, spread the word to bloggers and other online influencers with existing audiences. You may even want to make a cool video that includes tongue-in-cheek humour.This marketing strategy allows you to build a ready-made customer list for your big launch day.

Develop Subscription Prices

Figuring out your subscription prices and levels is another key decision, and this basically involves crunching numbers. Customers love bargains, so you’ll need to balance charging a fair price with making enough profit to keep things operating. Many subscription services offer two or three price levels, and customers pick the one that fits their budget best.

Make a Shipping Schedule

Coordinating product ordering, customer orders, and shipping is probably the trickiest thing about running a box subscription service. You really don’t want to waste massive amounts of money ordering goods that no one buys. That’s why the best strategy is to reserve a time of month for accepting customer orders. This way, you’ll know ahead of time how much inventory to order from suppliers, and you’ll have the funds to pay for everything.You want to reserve a time of month for receiving curated goods, and packaging and shipping items out to customers. Be sure to share your shipping policy with customers so they know how long it takes to receive their boxes.

Create a Box Design

The box that holds your selection of items is the first thing the customer sees, and it needs to make a good impression. Spend some time thinking about how you want your box to look. Keep in mind, the fancier the design, the costlier it is to produce. When you’re just starting out, you can probably get by with a simple logo either printed on the box, or create printed logo stickers that easily attach to the box surface.

Beta Test a Prototype Box

Test the waters by creating a prototype box. Consider this your first draft concept box, and include a few test items you think customers desire. Fulfill orders and then ask customers for their feedback. An easy way to get feedback is to send them a brief survey via email. You’ll learn a lot about what customers like and don’t like about your box, and then you can work on improving the subscription experience.Curating subscription boxes for people who love receiving goodies is a fun way to help them shop for a variety of items. Your boxes can be a hit if you’re able to deliver a consistent high-quality unique shopping experience.

References & Resources

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