Subscription boxes are everywhere. From Birchbox to Blue Apron, Loot Crate and FitFabFun, it seems like there’s a curated box of monthly goodies for just about everyone.
And while big names like Ipsy and Barkbox certainly exist in the space, thousands of smaller, individually run-subscription box companies find incredible success building their own businesses focused on products or communities that they love.
As the subscription space has grown, new businesses launch every day with the goal of sending curated experiences to enthusiastic subscribers. (To get an idea of just how many subscription boxes are out there, check out Cratejoy’s Marketplace, which currently hosts more than 1,600 subscriptions in 80+ categories.)
So, if you’ve ever thought about channeling your passions into a curated experience for other enthusiasts, check out the top 4 things you need to have in order to start your own subscription box.
What You Need to run a Successful Subscription Box Business
1. A niche or passionate community
All great subscription box businesses have one thing in common: they cater to an enthusiastic community. Whether that community is made up of beauty gurus, bookworms, raw vegans, or mixologists – it doesn’t matter as long as there is an engaged group of people interested in receiving products or experiences that celebrate their niche. Need some inspiration for your own subscription box business? Here are 50 box ideas you could start today. Once you identify your box’s niche, do some exploring on social media and youtube to find hashtags, influencers, and products that your ideal customer uses or loves.
2. Software and tools to run an online business
If you’re new to Ecommerce, figuring out the technology side of things can be tough. After all, with so many different options, it can be frustrating to even know where to start. Luckily, when it comes to the subscription industry, Cratejoy was built specifically with subscription box entrepreneurs in mind.
That means that in addition to a website builder and check out system, Cratejoy’s all-in-one platform covers the nuances of recurring billing and shipping, customer management, and offers one-on-one coaching and support from Customer Success Managers. Worth noting? Other solutions will be able to offer an online store with inventory management, but you’ll need to attach several plugins to make a monthly (or quarterly) subscription box business run smoothly.
3. A good eye for product curation
Running a subscription box business means being able to find, source, and curate products your subscribers will love month after month.
Imagine you’re running a box for crystal enthusiasts. Sure, you could send out three unique crystals each month, but is that the best experience you could give a customer? Curation is about knowing your niche and what kind of similar products your customers want to discover.
This is where customer and product research come into play. Maybe your box has crystals as its core offering, but each month explores related niches like aromatherapy, natural beauty, meditation tools, and more.
Remember: the goal of a subscription box is to cash in on recurring revenue by keeping your subscribers happy for as many months as possible. Having flexible curation with a variety of products is key to keeping your box exciting, and something your subscribers will look forward to again and again.
Wondering where to find products for your subscription box? Check out these 7 sourcing ideas to keep your box fresh and exciting.
4. The right mix of business smarts, product expertise, and marketing prowess
At the end of the day, a subscription box is like any other entrepreneurial endeavor: you need a solid business foundation, a good product, and a marketing strategy to be successful. Here’s what we recommend nailing down from the get go:
Business Foundations –
Pricing your box – too low and you won’t make money, too high and you won’t attract customers (Check out Cratejoy’s pricing calculator to get it right)
How often will you ship – monthly, quarterly, bi-annually?
Tools – We recommend Cratejoy, but finding tools you trust is critical to building a business that can operate at every growth stage
Product Expertise –
How many products will you send each month
Where will you source your products? Artisans on Etsy, wholesalers, Alibaba?
Can you think of at least 6 months of box themes or curations before launching?
Marketing Strategy –
Which social media channels will you invest in? Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest?
Do you have a budget for ads, and if so, what is your cost of acquisition?
Do you want to take the influencer or affiliate route?
These questions are a great starting point as you begin to flesh out your business, and the answers will begin to intertwine as you explore how you’ll build your product and attract customers. For more information on the entire subscription box business process, check out Cratejoy’s comprehensive guide on starting your own box.
Want to learn more about starting your own subscription box?
Check out Cratejoy’s content library filled with blogs and guides to help you get started.