SubCom, the younger leaner sibling of regular ecommerce, is already a very successful business model. Its easy for consumers to buy, there is plenty of choice and its shaping up to be quite the surprise trend of 2014.

Currently the most popular type of SubCom businesses are ones in which you receive a box of goods for a monthly payment. BirchBox, for example, have been credited with being one of the first to try out this kind of business model and have had a large amount of success doing so. SubCom doesn’t just have to be monthly recurring, it can also be weekly, quarterly or however many days you think suits you and your customers best. A box full of tasty jams that come only once a month may not last long in a toast-filled hungry household.


Some of the benefits for small businesses:

  1.  It will soon be very easy to run a SubCom business part time.
  2. You can sell just about anything, from tasty jams, coffee or beauty products. If it fits in a box you can send it.
  3. The process of buying for the consumer is simple. We all know the less clicks the better to combat those conversion rates.
  4. You can easily make some extra cash on the side doing something you love.

For medium to large sized business:

  1. It can be a great idea to help shift some excess stock.
  2. You can test out new products on customers you know love your brand.
  3. It can be a great way to diversify your portfolio and revenue streams.
  4. It represents an opportunity to grow a current supply chain.
  5. It can be used as a marketing event.
  6. If you are an existing ecommerce business then setting up a SubCom
  7. Business will come almost naturally. There isn’t much difference in how they operate.

Examples of Successful SubCom Businesses:

Food & Drink:

Diet Chef provides its customers with healthy meals and diet plans that it sends out monthly. They split up the cost per week and you pay for a full month. Diet Chef have had big success in the UK taking their business from nothing to a million pound startup in a short amount of time, with a little help from lots of very successful TV advertising campaigns and the SubCom business model of course. Flavourly are a box a month gourmet food company, they send out a variety of tasty treats to tantalise your taste buds. The guys at Flavourly have had massive success on sites like groupon to promote their brand and awareness of their product. They are also a local business based in Edinburgh. Nutribox offers a monthly healthy gluten-free snack box for your home or office. They offer a Classic, Vegan and Sports boxes with prices starting from 12.95. Or if you are a business they offer custom corporate boxes. (Hopefully one comes through for the Pretty Klicks office soon!) Hotel Chocolat have a tasting club which you pay for a set amount of months (3-12 months). They have won multiple awards from the Academy of Chocolate Gold Winner 2011 to The Great Taste award, where they also won Gold. Can’t beat award-winning chocolate delivered straight to your door. (A great example of how an existing business can implement SubCom to generate a secondary revenue to diversify their portfolio).

For Men:

Wibba is exclusively for men. They don’t tell you what comes in the box apart from maybe a toy, gimmick, game or gizmo but they assure you its manly as hell and will get your manly blood flowing. If you are in the business of making male products you think have a cool edge, then using SubCom businesses like Wibba to promote your product is a great way to get your name out there.

For Women:

Who Made Your Pants do exactly what their name states. They ethically source your underwear and can tell you exactly who made it. The concept is great, we already love knowing where most things come from so why not our underwear also? There have been a lot of complaints to bigger organisation who take advantage of cheap slave labour, nice to see someone bucking the trend. Go buy ethically sourced pants.

Just for Fun:

Not Another Bill send surprise gifts in the post every month from a range of artists, brand and designers. If you visit their site and look at past presents, it is an impressive collection. Not Another Bill are one of the top subscription boxes in the UK market with a lot of press coverage.

For Animals:

Petflow have an interesting take on SubCom, calling it ‘Auto-Ship’, this feature allows you to pick the products you like, which they will ship them to you in 2-16 week intervals. This saves you the hassle of having a treat-less house for your beloved pet. (No cats were harmed in the making of this blog post – we are cat lovers, just ask my 10 cats at home).

By Stefan
Founder & CEO of Subbly