Entrepreneur Life

6 Steps To Launching A Subscription Box Business

In 2014 my friend/former partner and I had the idea to create a subscription box for military spouses. We were military spouse bloggers and we knew that every month spouses of service members sent packages to their loved ones serving overseas. We thought it would be a cool idea for them to treat themselves to something special monthly while manning the home front.

With that in mind SpouseBox the very first subscription box for military spouses was born. We had no clue what we were doing and literally pre-sold the box without knowing what was going to be in it. Even with the success of selling the box, we had tons of bumps along the way. The very first bump occurred on our first shipping in which we included mugs. So many of the boxes arrived with cracked or broken mugs, and we were not prepared for that. That one scenario alone taught us a lot. We needed to be better prepared for future shipments and the whole process of running a subscription box company.

Me when we first launched SpouseBox Back In 2014. Notice we opted for a stamp on the first box.

We took a break from SpouseBox for a while because it wasn’t exactly a first love for us and we had other businesses. Luckily, my friend who I originally owned SB with give me her blessing to continue on and I recently relaunched with my business partner whom I own an online gift and stationery boutique with called Hello ROSIE Co.

That aside, offering a subscription box is an awesome way to sell product from an existing online store of yours or even without a store. Once you know the niche and area the contents of your box will focus on, then you can start preparing to launch your box.

Here are 6 Steps to Launching A Subscription Box:

Frequency

You’ll need to decide how often your boxes will ship. Coming up with product monthly is a lot harder than doing it quarterly. Be realistic with your budget and the amount of help you have. If you are doing this solo you may even want to limit how many boxes you sell in the beginning to avoid backlog and getting overwhelmed. Taking on too much can negatively impact reviews and what people think of your box.

Curating Products

You’ve decided what the box will center around, but how do you secure product? Well first, there are a lot of factors here. Will your product be only USA based or will you be okay with importing?  Additionally, the cost is a major factor. Remember that volume equals savings when purchasing things wholesale, and initially, you may not have lots of customers. Where you secure your products from will just depend on what your box is about. You can google wholesalers or reach out to brands to advertise in exchange for product. In some cases, brands will donate product or they can offer you a deal to purchase wholesale units of their product. A lot of this can be done via email. When I launched SpouseBox back in 2014 we were able to get Essie Nail Polish and Glade in our box by simply emailing. Etsy is a great place to source products and now offers a wholesale option from select vendors. Don’t buy your product just yet. You’ll find out why later on in this article.

The New SpouseBox

Box Design and Boxes

One of people’s biggest issues in launching businesses like these is overthinking things. You aren’t Birch Box or Fab Fit Fun and you don’t have the budget they do. Don’t punish yourself trying to spend money to get boxes like theirs. Spend your time creating a fun logo that speaks to your intended audience. You can get custom designed logos created via sites like ETSY and Fiverr. If going with Fiverr be sure to use your design budget to go with a higher end designer. You will still come out cheaper. In our case, we simply had a sticker made with the SpouseBox abbreviated logo. On our current boxes, my partner created a simple logo using a combination of Photo Shop and Canva. You can get stickers printed in bulk with the logo for the box at places like StickerMule, Vistaprint and Uline. Sites like Packlane offer customized boxes for a more branded finish. More affordable boxes are available at places like Uline in various colors. If you don’t want boxes you can always opt for poly mailers. These can be purchased affordably from Amazon. You’ll also need to create a cute “What’s Inside” card so that subscribers know exactly what they are getting.

Shipping

You’ll want to make sure that you try to only include product that is easy to ship and not easily broken. As I mentioned we sent mugs on our first shipment and many of them were broken because we didn’t consider the proper packaging for inside the box. Uline is great for buying crinkled paper for shipping, along with bubble wrap and tape. They also easily let you pay later without running a credit check. This is great when funds are limited.

My gorgeous partner Lakesha Cole from ASpouseFul.com packing boxes

Your Subscription Box Website

Once you’ve done all of the above, it’s time to create a website to showcase your box and where people can order. Websites like CrateJoy are great for the new subscription box entrepreneur because they offer forums with other subscription box owners, support, and easy setup of sites with landing pages to get you up and running quickly. For the more advanced entrepreneur Shopify ( we use this) is a great option. They offer sleek professional themes and apps ( the equivalent of plugins on WordPress) to make your website modern and trendy. However, CrateJoy is probably the better option since it’s created specifically for subscription boxes. These sites will keep track of orders for you, and also help you to establish your shipping setup.

Marketing and Launch

Now it’s time for pre-launch marketing. I skipped over telling you to choose a name and purchase your domain because I assume that’s a given. Below are some things to do (in no particular order) to begin selling your box.

  • Naturally, you’ll want to make sure you’ve grabbed up all your names on social media.
  • Earlier I mentioned not buying your product right away. The reason is you don’t want to have to shell out unnecessary money. In this case once done sourcing your products be sure to find out shipping times. This will allow you to determine if you have the option to do pre-orders. Why do pre-orders? Pre-orders will allow you to obtain the funds to buy the products to go in the box. This, in essence, will help you avoid excess spending.
  • Put together a sample box to take photos of. When taking photos invest in a photographer if you can financially, and if not invest in a lightbox from Amazon, go in the room with the best natural light and use your smartphone. The better the light the better, the picture will come out.
  • Create a posting strategy for social media. Check out other subscription boxes FB pages for inspiration, but not to copy. You simply want to get an idea of what and how they are posting.
  • Set a launch day and offer a special deal such as a coupon code or a giveaway.

Share your tips and questions about subscriptions boxes in the comments below, and if you liked this post share it with a friend.

 

 

 

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