Boss Lady

Subscription box services: 6 secrets for success


The success of subscription box services in recent years has been nothing short of stunning. Consumers have signed up in droves for curated deliveries from businesses like Stitch Fix, Birchbox, Ipsy, Dollar Shave Club, and Blue Apron. The subscription e-commerce market has grown by more than 100 percent every year since 2011. We outline the tactics that can make yours successful.

There is no doubt that the subscription box services business model is trendy and engaging. Every social media feed has “unboxing” videos of delighted customers gleefully opening packages and commenting on the goods inside. Today, you can order a curated box of just about anything from dog toys to natural cleaning products.

Benefits of subscription box services

Subscription box services have two very important draws for customers: convenience and novelty. Buyers love this compelling new way to shop because it’s personalized and delivered directly to their homes like clockwork each month with little to no effort after the initial sign-up. Some subscription boxes allow subscribers to choose if they want to know what is coming in their subscription box or have it be a surprise.

There are many benefits for retailers as well. Merchants love the predictable cash flow from recurring payments and the ability to source premium goods in bulk. Because these boxes are typically billed at regular intervals, it’s much easier for businesses to forecast what their sales will be. Similarly, having a predictable fulfillment schedule makes inventory management much easier.

Secrets for Making Subscription Box Services Successful

If you want to start your own subscription service, there are some things you should do to maximize your chances of success.

#1: Pick a very specific niche.

The best way to delight consumers and keep them coming back is to focus on a very specific niche and have an intimate understanding of what your audience wants and needs. Common themes for boxes are fashion, makeup, and food. But your chances of connecting with discriminating consumers are much better if you zoom in on specific sub-segments of those niches – for instance, plus-size urban fashion, make-up for people with sensitive skin, or organic gluten-free food. 

#2: Know what type of subscription you want to offer.

There are three general categories for subscription box services: access, replenishment, and curation.

  • Access: These types of subscription boxes provide customers with exclusive access to a product or service. Typically, these types of subscription services sell apparel and food items.
  • Replenishment: Boxes classified as replenishment services help consumers save their time and money by sending the customer items that are the same or very similar to those they’ve received previously.
  • Curation: Curated boxes are the most popular among consumers. These boxes vary greatly in the participation required by the consumer to curate the items in the box. When curated boxes are mailed, the consumer often doesn’t know what it will contain. Some consumers compare receiving their subscription boxes to receiving a gift because the contents of the box are a surprise.

#3: Create eye-catching branding.

Packaging matters when it comes to subscription boxes. It’s worth it to pay a bit extra for custom packaging with your logo and color palette to establish a clear brand identity and create a memorable “unboxing” experience. Customer-created content is free advertising for your business and can help build buzz online.

#4: Connect with your target audience.

Based on your aesthetic, it’s important to understand what your customers are expecting from your brand. That means that you need to know who your target audience is and market to that group. Think carefully about your customer journey and all of the touchpoints where people interact with your brand. Be active on social media and send emails regularly. Using surveys to discover what your audience likes and dislikes.

#5: Price it right.

Knowing how much your audience is willing to pay will determine what you can spend on your goods, packaging, marketing, and shipping. Your pricing strategy should take into account what your competitors are charging and how you want your brand to be perceived – as aspirational, mid-level, or affordable. Your success may hinge on how well you source your products and negotiate with suppliers. Make sure to keep an eye on other subscription box brands. See what gets positive responses from customers and make changes to your box accordingly.

#6: Use your past sales to predict your future costs.

Be practical. Take your budget into consideration and don’t go overboard when creating your box or picking your packaging. Averaging your past sales allows you to better budget buying supplies and packaging in the future. This also helps if your company wants to purchase their supplies in bulk quantities.

Final thoughts

Subscription boxes have made a huge impact on the world of e-commerce in recent years and they show no signs of slowing down any time soon. Because this business model benefits both the consumer and the seller, it is an ideal way to create more predictable revenue, but the marketplace is definitely becoming more competitive. If you’re thinking about starting your own subscription box service, be sure to keep your customers’ expectations in mind, as they’re the ones who will make or break your service. Done correctly, running a subscription box service can be incredibly profitable for you and exciting for your subscribers.

About Laura Gayle'

Laura Gayle is the founder of Business Woman Guide

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