Start your own subscription box: Click here to download the Cratejoy Subscription Box Business Plan
Congratulations! If you are reading this blog post, there is a good chance that you are thinking about starting a subscription box business. That is very exciting. Just as with any business, there are some important logistics that you will need to figure out before starting your subscription box. Below we’ll discuss three areas in which you will need to consider before starting your business.
Which Subscription Platform Should I Use?
Believe it or not, starting a subscription box business is not as easy as throwing up a website and selling boxes! Because there are so many moving parts when it comes to selling subscription boxes, you will definitely want to choose a platform that does the heavy lifting for you (like Cratejoy!).
Some of the things to consider when choosing a platform:
Ease of use – Having the ability to build a storefront for your subscription box is paramount to starting your business. If you are like most new business owners, you probably don’t know how to develop a website. Therefore, you’ll need to look for a platform that has built-in ready to go storefront templates that can be customized to suit your brand and aesthetics. If you do know how to code a website, then you will have more options.
Billing – Recurring billing is not a feature that is built into most e-commerce platforms. Because recurring billing is the crux of a subscription business you’ll want to make sure that whichever software you choose for billing is capable for recurring billing, account management, and refunds. Cratejoy was built for subscription businesses, therefore it has all of the billing features needed to run your subscription business efficiently.
Marketing – If finding new customers for your subscription box is a concern of yours, it will be important to find a platform that has some form of built-in customer acquisition channel. One of the more unique features of the Cratejoy platform is that it includes a subscription box marketplace that is visited by thousands of customers every day! Subscription box owners can list their box in the marketplace and reap the benefits of acquiring new customers for a small fee on Cratejoy.com.
Finding Products for your Subscription Box
Sourcing products is one of the biggest hurdles that subscription box owners face. It’s important to find quality products in your niche, it’s even more important to get them at a price which allows you to make a profit. Check out our guide on finding the right suppliers as you start your subscription box.
Visit local stores
One of the ways that you can start sourcing products is to visit local stores that carry the types of products you intend to carry. For example, if you intend to create a beauty box, you might want to visit Sephora, Ulta, Target, Whole Foods, etc to do a some product research. While we don’t recommend buying your products from these stores you can use them to research the types of companies and products that you want to reach out to.
While in-store, you should take notes about which brands and products you would like to carry. Then reach out to the specific companies & products you’d like to carry and try to work out a deal to get those items at wholesale. In most cases, you will want to work with the company directly instead of using a distributor, this ensures that you are getting the best price and not paying a middleman to bring the deal together.
If you’d like to include handmade items in your box, you will definitely want to check out Etsy’s wholesale site. This is separate from the consumer-facing Etsy website you are probably used to. Etsy’s wholesale site allows Etsy sellers to offer their handmade goods at wholesale prices. This can be a great way to get quality handmade items for your box.
Another great source of handmade, or more bespoke products, is the supplier marketplace Faire. Faire has been around for the past several years and is one of the most popular sourcing websites around. While they may not be the best fit for large subscription boxes, new boxes can start here to make sure they nail early product experiences for their customers.
Online (Google & Specialty E-commerce Sites)
Another way that you can source products for your subscription box is to use Google and specialty e-commerce sites. In terms of Google, some of the searches you might want to do are “<your niche> products wholesale” or “<specific product> wholesale”. You will undoubtedly be served with hundreds of search results, however, it’s a great way to get started and build a list of potential partners.
One other tactic that subscription box owners use to source products for their boxes is to research larger online specialty sites. For example, if you intend to do a healthy food box, you may want to visit ThriveMarket and find some products and companies that you’d like to partner with. Just like the brick and mortar stores, you will NOT buy from these online sites, but instead, use them to find the products and companies you want to include in your box.
Once you have your list of potential partners, you’ll want to send them an email letting them know about your business and that you are interested in purchasing their items at wholesale in bulk. If you aren’t sure what to say, here’s a sample email that you can send.
Marketing Your Subscription Box
Now that you’ve chosen your subscription platform and sourced your products, it’s time to let the world know about your amazing subscription box! The old adage, “Build it and they will come” is nice in theory but highly impractical in today’s advertising rich society. You are going to need to market your box in order to grow your subscribers and brand awareness for your box. Luckily, there are several inexpensive ways for you to get your box out into the world.
In this day and age, you would be remiss NOT to have a presence on social media. Most subscription box owners would admit that have a presence on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube & Twitter are a must-have for their business. Using these free tools you can find, communicate with, and build a community around your box.
Along with social media, many subscription box owners have had great luck by using Facebook ads to drive traffic to both their pre-launch website and to their product page once launched. Even if you have a small budget, we would recommend using Facebook ads to find your target market and start creating brand awareness for your box.
Before launching a subscription box, you will want to put up a pre-launch page to see what kind of interest you can garner for your subscription box. Cratejoy has a built-in “Coming soon” landing page that you can use to send people who are interested in your niche or subscription box idea. You can learn more about setting up a pre-launch website here.
Marketplaces are a great place to test your product, especially marketplaces like Cratejoy which are built specifically for subscription boxes. A marketplace can help you get early customers and early product feedback, which is valuable as you continue to market and grow your brand externally.
Once you have chosen a subscription box platform, sourced your products and developed a marketing strategy for your box, you will be well on your way to launching a subscription box business.