September 7, 2018

How to Start a Subscription Box Service

Subscription boxes are a lucrative new trend that has amazing potential. These boxes include regular shipments of niche items to interested customers. They’ve gained a lot of traction as fun...

Subscription boxes are a lucrative new trend that has amazing potential. These boxes include regular shipments of niche items to interested customers. They’ve gained a lot of traction as fun way for customers to shop, discover new brands, and enjoy checking the mail.

For someone who’s considering building a subscription box service, there’s the potential for stable monthly revenue by appealing to existing communities around categories and products. While the concept seems simple enough, some planning is necessary to have a successful launch. Check out some subscription box statistics and follow these subscription box business plan steps to learn how to start a subscription box service:

1. Build Your Idea

Without an idea, you don’t have a subscription box to work with. Thankfully, you can appeal to almost any niche market with a subscription market. However, you do need to find that niche to see success. Any idea that’s too generic may seem like it’ll appeal to a broader audience, but you’re less likely to find a dedicated community willing to subscribe.

As such, the more specific you can get, the better! Don’t just stop at food – pick a specific type of food, like foreign snacks. Customers will be more interested the more you can appeal to a certain need.

Likewise, consider the competition in your decision. For those who have a broad category in mind but not a specific idea, filling in gaps on the market can be a good approach. If your passion is for a type of subscription box that’s already on the market, then you should find an angle that makes your product unique.

You’ll also want to start brainstorming your potential customers in this time frame, as it’ll help you better develop your box and your marketing strategies. Just as with your box concept, the more specific, the better; consider age, location, income level, and preferred social media platforms in the process.

2. Start Developing Your Prototype

You don’t need a complete subscription box ready to go before you start marketing; a prototype box will do the job just fine. You’ll want to think about your products, box design, and packing materials, as the unpacking process is just as much a part of a subscription box as the content inside. Take photos of your prototype for marketing materials.

In this stage, you should also start considering the price of your box. The image of your ideal customer will influence this, as will the actual cost of assembling and shipping boxes. 40% is a sustainable rule of thumb to follow for a subscription box profit margin.

3. Begin Prelaunch

The prelaunch phase is essential to starting a subscription service and drawing in your customer base. You’ll want to set a prelaunch length ahead of time, which generally falls within 15 to 60 days. Likewise, you’ll need an email signup goal to help measure the success of your campaign. Aim for 10-20% conversion goal of purchases from your email list.

With those numbers in mind, you move on to the prelaunch in earnest. You have two major goals in this time:

Creating a prelaunch page. This page can be a simple portal to connect email addresses and include the relevant starting information about your subscription box service. Including details like products, price, and launch date are important, as well as incorporating photos and videos of your prototype box are smart strategies to incorporate.

Starting promotions through social media. Setting up social media accounts is how you’ll let people know about your subscription box. Email, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter are some of your options. Think again about your projected customer base and target the platforms they use. Incorporating countdowns to launch and giveaways can help garner buzz.

Once these essentials are taken care of, you’ll want to switch gears to sorting out any remaining logistics about providing your box that you haven’t already. Work out your product procurement and shipping processes in this time so that you’re ready to go. Be sure to finalize your box as well.

4. Enter the Launch Phase

You already have a prelaunch webpage to garner interest about your product, but you’ll need a complete website to do full business. This will include your store to start taking orders and other relevant product information. Several platforms exist to enable you to build a site with ease, even if you don’t have any in-depth knowledge of coding or web design.

These platforms also allow you to create a marketplace listing, which will help put your box in front of customers already interested in subscription services. You may even benefit from in-house marketing efforts as well.

Most importantly, set up your billing and payment processes; you won’t be able to accept orders otherwise. Consider any involved transaction fees when selecting your payment method and incorporate those into your budget calculations.

5. Take Orders and Ship First Boxes

With your launch complete, you’re ready to start taking orders. Make use of your email list and social media platforms to let everyone know that boxes are ready to order. Establish a clear shipping date and make sure your customers know to prevent potential impatience over delivery.

With a clear fulfillment plan, you’ll have an established setup for handling your orders as time goes on. Don’t neglect changing ineffective packing and shipment methods. Also consider documenting the whole launch and shipping process for use as marketing materials to help you better connect to your audience.

6. Continuing and Building Your Customer Base

With your first launch complete, you can now celebrate your accomplishment. Moving forward, you’ll want to think about what improvements you can make to further improve your service and marketing efforts. Ask yourself some of these questions to help the process along:

Is my customer base what I expected?
How can I improve the fulfillment process?
What’s the feedback from my subscribers like?
How can I adjust my marketing strategy?
Should I keep working with current vendors or do I need to change?
How can I better answer the most common customer questions?

Don’t forget to distribute customer surveys and incorporate their feedback into your strategy. That’s one of the keys to getting repeat customers and scaling your business. Offering regular promotions and customer referral programs can also help you bring in more customers while building a business.

When you start a subscription service, you have flexibility and extensive options for continuing to grow and developing your business. Think about your different options and see where they lead you!

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