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By Kara FinnertyJun 10
Published July 25th 2018
One of the biggest trends in e-commerce today is the subscription box.
This is a service where the customer pays a recurring fee to receive a package of goodies each month (with meal kits, the timeline can be weekly or even daily). Sometimes the items inside are highly specific, such as a box of clothing in the recipient’s size. Sometimes they are perishable, like seasonal produce. Other times they are more random, like a fashion-themed “spring box” that can contain everything from workout gear to beauty products.
While this might seem like a fad, it’s pretty lucrative. According to Forbes, the subscription e-commerce market has doubled annually for the past five years. A full 15% of online shoppers currently have subscriptions to receive products on a recurring basis. Even big names like Amazon have jumped on the trend with programs like Amazon Subscribe & Save.
So what does this mean for the entrepreneur? It means that subscription boxes, when done well, are big business. This is a place where people are spending money and, with the right strategy, you can get in on the profits. How can you get started? Here are some top tips for making your subscription box a success.
Focusing on a specific niche will help you laser focus your marketing efforts while also finding products that will delight your target customers. The more targeted your niche, the easier it will be to pack your box with amazing items and find customers who will love it.
One sure fire way to figure out what your niche wants is to harness the power of social media. Monitoring key terms and listening to the communities you hope to serve can give you the insights you need to cater to them.
Once you have your niche, take time to narrow down who your target customer is. Create a detailed persona that captures your target customer, complete with a back story.
With the persona in place, you will be able to start targeting real people that fit your ideal demographic. Again, social networks are full of real people expressing their wants, needs and frustrations. This is a place to define your ideal buyer.
Next, choose the products or types of products you will include in your box.
Make sure that you have a good variety of items and find reliable suppliers if you will be outsourcing production. If you make them in-house, make sure you can keep up with demand. Think about how much inventory you will need and what your inventory turnover rate will be. Test your concept by asking potential customers what they think and listening to their responses.
Once you know what you will be putting in your box and how much those items cost, add up the cost of the box, packing materials, shipping, and overall fulfilment costs.
Then, price your box so that you make a profit of 40%. The actual price will vary depending on what type of box you are sending, but if you make this type of profit, your efforts will be worthwhile.
Just like NASA wouldn’t send a rocket to space without first testing a prototype, you aren’t going to launch your subscription service without a prototype.
Your prototype box does not need to be an exact replica of what your actual box will contain, but it should feature similar products and similar value. Once you have assembled it, photograph it for your website and social media accounts and start generating buzz online about your new subscription service.
This is where you start building your customer base. Using your prototype box, launch a website, interact on social media, collect email addresses, and start generating your first paying subscribers. Offer these initial subscribers an extra bonus for joining you on your pre-launch, because this takes a lot of trust.
Listen carefully to what they say about your box, and respond quickly to any comments they make online. This is great for generating feedback so you can improve as your subscription box project grows.
After wowing your first subscribers with the quality of that first box, encourage them to help grow your business.
Offer discounts on subsequent subscriptions when your subscribers refer their friends. Continue delivering products they love, and soon your business will grow into a great success.
Harness the power of social networks by interacting with your followers and listening to changes in sentiment about your brand, your competitors, and any other topics related to your niche. Remember, this must be an ongoing process.
Remember, the subscription box trend is a lucrative one, and it’s not going anywhere any time soon. But it only works if you are tuned in to the needs and wants of your customers.