A perfect subscription box comes with a lot of thinking outside the box. The same goes for our next challenge: procurement – choosing the products for your subscription boxes. It is a determining step in your business and a pretty exciting part of the entire process.
Depending on how well you tackle this challenge, your subscribers are going to ask themselves: Should I stay or should I go?
Don’t worry, there’s no need for you to have a boxing match with your boxes – we have the best tips on how to create a perfect package for those eager subscribers of yours. And make them stay, of course.
A subscription business can cover various kinds of products, focused on different niches and lifestyles. In general, the successful subscription box should be based on at least some of these factors:
Combine three or more of these factors and you’ll be on a good path for a successful, long-term subscription business. Now that you know what makes a box awesome, it’s time to get really productive with products. Let’s roll!
Almost anything that can fit into a box and is not a weapon or a drug can be a product in a subscription box. That is the beauty of this business, as it gives you the creative freedom and a possibility to merge fun, usefulness, and profit.
Start with thinking about products you’d love to see on your doorstep regularly, then consider which niche to pick (we’ll dig into niches soon, stay tuned).
Here are just some of the categories and ideas you can explore while brainstorming your Subbox offer. The truth is, whatever people love to buy could find its place in a subscription box!
As you can see, there are many possibilities for you to explore when it comes to potential products! But how can you decide what to focus on when they all seem so tempting?
You could begin with a topic/product you are passionate about, or the one(s) you think are underrated or not utilised enough. Still, you can avoid many errors and losses by defining who your ideal subscribers are and in which niche they belong to.
So, we’ll begin with defining who your perfect customer is exactly, and how can you use the best of this knowledge.
What is a niche? Is it bird, is it a plane?
It’s neither a bird, a plane or Superman, it is the lifestyle, market or a trend that your subscription business (or any business, really) is serving with goodies of all kinds.
Is the business idea the same thing as a niche? Let us elaborate: no. An idea itself is worth almost nothing, until it’s put in the perspective of real human need or desire.
As an example, if the products of your subscription business are healthy snacks, think beyond the products themselves and discover what kind of people would benefit the most from it. Try to grasp the entire culture or a trend behind the particular product.
This will make the procurement process easier, more focused and productive at the end.
Some of the questions you could begin with are:
Once you have chosen your niche and your target market (well done!), it will be much easier to select the right products for those customers. The combination of what they truly and regularly need, with a pinch of extra surprises or something that enhances their experience might be the right path to follow. If you cover these steps with focus and intention, you’ll be ahead of many unprepared subscription box amateurs. A dose of healthy competitiveness is definitely needed in this world.
When crafting your amazing subscription box, which will be nothing like any other box on the face of this planet, there is one more thing to consider.
Defining the value of your subscription box goes way beyond the mere monetary value. It is the story, a message, or an idea you want to share with your subscribers. Basically, the reason why you’re offering exactly what you are offering, and in a specific way.
Remember when we spoke about healthy food products? Good, let’s see what kind of value lies behind that offer.
First of all, think of a way to make the entire experience, from unboxing to actual consummation, pleasant and rewarding. You’re not going to focus on nutritional values only, but tackle the philosophy of happy, energetic living as well. Also, merge it with the design, choice, and arrangement of products too, to get the entire picture. Skip the plastic and keep it organic. Catch our drift?
Do not skip this part, as not keeping the value of your business can negatively affect your reputation and even draw people away from what you have to offer. When it comes to the product procurement in particular, see if they are aligned to the value you are advocating in your business.
Your box can either make the recipient feel optimistic or disappointed in the subscription box and its product(s).
Even if you got everything covered, from the type of product you will use, the particular niche/target market, as well as the value with a strong message behind it, there is a step that if done wrong, could make your customers want to unsubscribe.
As simple as it might be, what really matters is how your box looks when it’s opened up. Here are some questions to consider:
Make sure that your box looks nice both inside and out, trust us, you won’t regret it. When choosing and arranging the products inside the subscription box, think of the way you like things to be organised and presented.
This is the best way, in general, to provide high-quality service.
Think of the boxes you enjoy opening, the products inside you enjoy discovering – how can you make your subscribers faint in amazement? Simple as that.
Vendors are nice people who provide products for your boxes. It’s needless to stress out how important it is to achieve and maintain a healthy relationship with your vendors. Your business relies on their products, but they will also immensely benefit from all the promotion and sales your subscription boxes will bring.
Just in case, let’s turn the spotlight on the quality, reputation, and reliability of the vendors you choose. Keep in mind that this is the core of your subscription business.
We know that there are a lot of cores, essences, and insanely important parts of the business, but the truth is, everything is important and you should pay attention to multitude of aspects if you wish to do this well.
Choosing vendors of trust that have proven to give value over and over again is a wise move for any subscription entrepreneur. Use every channel available and make sure you did all necessary calculations in order to evaluate potential vendors.
Ah, the strategy! The main ones you can use when it comes to this challenge are free samples/product marketing, or wholesale, less or at cost buying of products.
The first one, free sample/product marketing, is when the vendor is presented to the highly qualified customers (you already know exactly who they are from step one above). What you basically do is offer the products for your subscribers to discover, being the connection between the vendor and the customers.
As you can imagine, this is an excellent way to create loyal customers, but it comes with a risk – it takes a lot of time and you might need to rely on different vendors.
The second option, actually buying the products, is much more sustainable and easier to grow on. Not to mention that it’s interesting for vendors themselves, primarily because of the large order volumes involved. In both scenarios, eager customers are discovering their products which puts you in a good negotiating position, too.
The downside of this strategy is that you’ll be spending precious money and will need to calculate the expenses with special care and attention. Also, your boxes will need to be priced accordingly.
Once you got things in order, the goal is to maintain the same level of quality, trust, and overall subscriber happiness for months or years to come.
The top advice is to become obsessive about product quality. Yes, obsessive. Do not forget the details, take time to make everything as beautiful as possible. We’re not saying that you should focus merely on aesthetics and nothing else.
But, bear in mind how presentation can become a game-changer for your business. It can actually showcase the quality of your products.
This topic is closely linked to product procurement – try avoiding a random variety of items. Take product selection seriously and put these products together in a sensible, logical package. Do not put socks and earrings in the same box, unless they are following a similar design or should be worn together.
Also, in order to keep the quality steady and rising, constantly gather feedback and analyse the results – which products were welcomed warmly, what boxes came with unwrapping screams of joy, but also, which one weren’t particularly interesting or valuable.
Remember, your subscriber’s satisfaction always comes first and that is the fuel to keep your business going and growing.
Look at you go! You’ve learned how to completely win the game of product procurement, no matter how scary it might be!
We covered various topics in this guide:
One final tip for the end is to never stop observing, learning, and experimenting. The great thing about product procurement is that you can slightly modify your offer from month to month, always improving the complete subscriber experience.
It is much easier (and much more fun!) to play with the product choice, arrangement, and variety all the time, in order to keep your subscription boxes as fresh as daisies.
Be wise when it comes to product procurement and the results will surely show.