The Best Subscription Box Ideas for now and the future

Literature

Food

Clothing

Personal
Grooming

Health & Fitness

Healthy Snacks

Pets

Kids

Razors & Shaving

Women’s
Hygiene

Adult Products & Sex Toys

How to choose an idea for a subscription box? Thousands of Subbly customers use our platform each day to power their subscription boxes. They are all different. They all have their own quirks and requirements. No two are the same.

But, we can still categorize them into a few areas. We’ve written a comprehensive guide to starting your own box which covers this area already, but here’s the TL:DR version for you.

Remember: a weekly/monthly box is just one of many subscription-first business models that you can start — the options are truly endless, from refillable system-based products (think a Nespresso machine) to a membership model (think online courses), the world is your oyster!

Before looking at the list below, know this...

Before you explore our subscription box business ideas, we want you to know the two golden rules of the great subscription business.

Passion makes it easier

We’ve noticed that if you’re passionate about something, you’ll actually want to do it, and you’ll tend to do a much better job of it in the long term. We are convinced that the best subscription boxes are produced by those who love what they do. 

Think about some of your passions. Maybe you take pride in your amazing wine collection? So why not roll out a wine club for those who share this passion and send your subscribers excellent wine every month? Committed bookworm? How about starting a kind of a book of the month club? Or perhaps you’re a dedicated coffee fan and are eager to treat people like you to the best samples of coffee? 

Whatever your passion is, we’re absolutely sure that you have something to share with the world! Just answer this simple question: what would a person like you want to receive in the mail each month or quarter that would support that passion? 

Niches are defensible at the start

There will inevitably be more people with competing boxes in your niche than you would think. So, it’s important to either find an unsaturated market, or make it really clear about how your subscription service is different or distinctive. Keep in mind that starting a successful subscription service involves a thorough competitor analysis to find out how you could solve your potential customers’ pain points and stand out from the crowd.

Successful subscription boxes usually have these things in common

An existing audience

An existing audience or community of enthusiasts (an available market).

Long-term relevance

A product category that isn’t a short-term fad, so the business model is “evergreen”.

Continuous discovery

Fans who are receptive to continuous discovery. They are always looking for something else, or something new.

Recurring needs

There’s a constant appetite for something else or something more. Their needs are recurring and you can satisfy them with a recurring box every month or week, depending on the product you offer.

Emotional need

There’s an emotional need for it. Either your box contains something that fits into their way of life (tribes/affiliations) or they want to give it as a gift to someone else to give them joy or some other emotional need is fulfilled.

A few subscription box ideas to get your creative juices flowing

If you are looking for subscription box ideas that can ensure regular or recurring revenue, keep in mind that this is only possible when you manage to create a loyal audience. Here is a list of our most profitable quarterly or monthly subscription box ideas to get you inspired. Let’s jump right in.

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1. Literature

With book clubs dating as far back as the 1920s, literature is definitely a category you might want to consider. Ideally, book subscription boxes are sent out every month and feature a variety of genres. One of the original subscription concepts, a reading club is one of the easiest ways to start. But it doesn't always have to be a physical book.

Popular examples include Book of the Month,The Equal Opportunity Book Box, Used Books Monthly, Literati, Tailored Book Recommendations, MyThrillClub, OwlCrate and Rainbow Crate.

BooBox

BooBox has perfected an e-book subscription which sends subscribers a digital novel by surprise every month.

Read more about BooBox’s story here

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2. Food

Starting a food subscription business, you really need to know that your customers are going to receive their meal kit boxes fresh and on time. This means you need to make sure your supporting tech is reliable and fits your business model.

From the moment you cook the meal or prepare it, to the moment it lands on your customer’s table, you need to be confident that this process is straightforward and flexible enough to achieve a smooth experience.

That said, subscriptions for foodies can vary a great deal, allowing you to go for less resource-consuming options. For example, you can offer products from sweets (like Candy Club) to artisan sauces (such as Hot Sauce of the Month Club). Also, it's a good idea to offer boxes that feature recipe cards and necessary ingredients for cooking delicious dishes.

Our skip feature works really well with food subscription businesses. We have lots of food based subscription businesses running on Subbly, so you know we have the experience and that it's tried and tested.

The most popular subscription services of this kind include Sun Basket, Green Chef, Dinnerly, Try the World, Daily Harvest, Mosaic Foods, Ocean Box, Imperfect World and Freshly. You can also opt for a narrower niche, like Candy Club and Hot Sauce of the Month Club.

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3. Coffee

Coffee is a product people buy in huge amounts around the world, no matter the season. It’s no surprise that coffee is one of the most popular subscriptions — it makes perfect sense, right? You can stand out by providing your customers with monthly deliveries of single origin coffees at reasonable costs. People will also love it if the box contains a free coffee cup or some other coffee-related items. Trade Coffee, Driftaway Coffee, Bean Box, Atlas Coffee Club, Yes PLZ Coffee, Crema and Craft Coffee are several coffee subscription businesses that can provide some inspiration.

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4. Clothing

Clothing subscription boxes are growing in popularity. Sending new clothes, lingerie, socks, underwear and even ties is now a surprise so customers always look sharp and feel great. You can use customer data to personalize clothing items based on size, budget and style, like Stitch Fix do. The great news is that starting these types of monthly subscription box business is super easy with Subbly.

Since it's essential to know the customers’ sizes, preferences and personal details, we’ve created a product survey question feature to make it easy to collect and view this information from your customers so you can customize their box and ensure that each person always receives a selection of items they’re guaranteed to love.

Your customers can even change their preferences and choices any time by simply logging into their account. We handle the rest: billing, order generation and website hosting.

Get started and dress the world with their favorite clothes including lingerie, socks, underwear and more! To get some inspiration, have a look at what Trunk Club, Stitch Fix, Fabletics, Menlo Club, Rent the Runway and Society Socks offer to their audiences. 

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5. Personal Grooming

Helping men keep their beards groomed, or their teeth clean, is an important task. Hipsters need their beard oil and wax, and everyone needs toothpaste. And you're here to help. And we're here to help you. Ladies & Gentlemen, introducing Subbly: the easiest way to start a grooming membership club.

Subbly makes it super simple to start your subscription business and super easy for customers to sign up and receive their grooming gear (and some add-ons of course!) every week or every month.

No time to waste, so many beards to keep in shape, and so many smiles to save. The most popular quarterly and monthly boxes are Birchbox, Lumin, Fab Fit Fun, Bamboo Club, and The Beard Club.

Bamboo Club

Bamboo Club have been using a sustainable angle to promote their toothbrushes. See how they have gone from success from success.

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6. Health and Fitness

Health and fitness is a growing industry, and the consumable side of it is not only necessary but essential. Protein powders, nutrition, creatine, BCAA's and other supplements are consumed on a regular basis and therefore need to be bought again and again, which creates an amazing opportunity for a subscription based health & fitness box. 

Allow your customers to receive their fitness gear, powders and nutrition weekly or monthly so they never run out and miss out on their goals and are able to spend more time in the gym than shopping!

Subbly makes it super easy to launch your health and fitness (nutrition) subscription business — we believe health and fitness is a perfect industry for this business model. The most successful examples include Mully Box, Fit Lifestyle Box, Fabletics, Yoga Club, Keto Krate and Gainz.

Mully Box

Mully Box focused on catering to the needs of their core audience: avid golfers.

If you are into golf too, this is how they did it.

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7. Healthy Snacks

When starting a healthy snack box you need to know what kind of snacks customers like or don't like to keep them coming back for more! A word of advice: people love getting boxes filled with stuff from local snack makers. And we believe it's great when you can support another small business while offering excellent products to your customers.

Our product survey options feature allows you to collect this information from your customers so that every month you can send them the healthy snacks that will keep them subscribed and delighted, and of course healthy!

Our skip feature works really well with healthy snack subscription box businesses too. We have lots of health and food based subscription businesses running on our platform so you know we have the experience and features to make your health box a complete success. Snack Magic, Love with Food, My Keto Snack Box, Bitewell, NatureBox and Vegancuts are among the most successful quarterly and monthly subscriptions in this niche.

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8. Pets

Starting a pet subscription business is easy. Follow in the footsteps of Barkbox and deliver happiness (treats) to dogs and cats all over the world every month. Dogs and cats' moms and dads will be on cloud nine about getting a monthly delivery of fun, high-quality pet supplies. Can you hear them barking and meowing from here? Hell, why not even a horse monthly subscription!? Neigh?

Collect information from pet owners about their dogs and cats so you can customise the boxes you send to their door each month, tailoring the contents around things like size, weight, colour and the pet’s name.We already have pet subscription boxes running on Subbly so we have the experience and know our platform works well for this type of subscription box.

Have a look at what CatLadyBox, Dapper Dog Box, Pet Treater, Buster Box and Bullymake Box offer to get a bit of inspiration.

Buster Box

Buster Box has been going strong in their market since their foundation. Each box features healthy organic treats and toys for dogs.

Their story is fascinating -- read it here!

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9. Kids

Running a quarterly or monthly subscription toy box for kids requires a platform that can make it easy and fun to fulfill orders while you pick out the best toys to keep your customers’ little ones entertained and educated every month. Kids’ boxes go far beyond toys: crafts, stickers, science projects, and clothes are no less popular.

Subbly makes it easy to start and run your children’s membership box. It takes 10 minutes to set up!

You can even collect information from the parents about what kinds of toys and crafts their kids like using our product survey questions feature. KiwiCo, Pipsticks, Three Month Gift Subscription by Little Fawn, R&T Crew, Lovevery, The Gentle & Classical Press, Spangler Science Club and KidPik are the best examples to follow.

The Gentle & Classical Press

The Gentle & Classical Press has been using the subscription concept to send homeschool curriculum materials to parents.

Read their story here

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10. Razors & Shaving

Why not treat thousands of guys around the world to a monthly delivery of personal grooming products, just like Dollar Shave Club, which has definitely revolutionized the shaving and razor blade industry.

You can be a part of it too by starting your own shaving and razor blade subscription box business. And it doesn't need to cost an arm and a leg!

Charge your customers monthly or weekly, and have different plans for different quality blades. Subbly makes this super easy and you can be up and running within 10 minutes.Now let's fight those beards and keep this world clean shaven!

Start your shaving membership club today for free.

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11. Women’s Hygiene

Women's hygiene box subscription services are a great way to ensure regular income, especially if you create an enticing box that women of all ages will absolutely fall in love with. Remember that making her time of the month as comfortable as possible requires gathering information about her period. That's why our product survey questions are great for collecting the necessary information to deliver the time of the month box, tampons, comforts and more at … the right time! 

Tampon Tribe, Bonjour Jolie, LOLA, Rose War Panty Power and my Petal Club are some successful examples of women’s hygiene subscription services.

We have existing period and tampon related boxes on our platform, so we have the experience to help you start and launch your own women’s hygiene box to help women all over the world with their time of the month needs.

Having your period shouldn't be unpleasant every month — and neither should running a subscription business, right? With Subbly it's easy. Try us for 14 days for free.

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12. Adult Products & Sex Toys

Running an adult & sex toy related box requires a platform that can handle all that kinkiness! It also requires a platform that can let their customers gift the subscription box and customize it as well.

Subbly's gifting feature allows partners to gift your sex toy or adult subscription box to one another to spice things up.You may also want to collect information when they subscribe about the types of sex toys, lingerie or anything else they might like or don't like. This will keep them coming back for more.

Get inspired by the boxes that Mystery Pleasure Box, Kink Crate, LoveDrop and Surprise Honey! offer for their 18+ customers who are eager to add some spice to their relationship with something new every month.

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13. Flower Subscription

Flower subscription boxes are recurring shipments of flower arrangements, which are delivered to the customer’s door on a regular basis, typically every month, week, or two weeks. A flower subscription service is a popular gift idea for a person who has everything. 

Flower subscriptions can also include vases as well as selections of indoor plants. If you decide to start a florist subscription business, keep in mind that flower selection often aligns with the current season. It’s a good idea to allow your customers to choose arrangements based on their favorite types of flowers. BloomsyBox, Farmgirl Flowers, Enjoy Flowers, Urban Stems and ProFlowers are good examples to follow.

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14. Cleaning Products

People love having useful items delivered to their door, and house cleaning products are not an exception. You can offer your customers a weekly or monthly box filled with the items necessary to keep their homes clean. It is important to offer a price rate lower than if the products were bought by a person individually.

It’s also a great idea to offer alternatives to items that can be found in every supermarket, perhaps through adding more natural and less toxic cleaning products to your monthly box. Providing consumers with this option can be a great way to get a competitive edge over other subscription services that offer cleaning products. Get inspired by Cleancult, Mighty Fix, Force of Nature and Grove Collaborative.

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15. Beauty Products

A monthly or quarterly subscription beauty box is a fun way to discover new products that your potential customers may not have tried yet. It’s not only a great gift for themselves, it can also be a perfect present for a beauty-obsessed friend. Beauty offerings range from all-vegan beauty boxes to expert skin boxes, the most prominent examples being BoxyCharm, Petit Vour, GlossyBox, Clean Beauty Box and Beauty Heroes.

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16. Wine

Wine clubs and subscriptions are nothing new. One of the first clubs to deliver wine by mail dates back to 1972, when Paul Kalemkiarian, a liquor store owner in California, provided his customers with wine picks every month.

A couple of things to keep in mind: if you consider launching a wine subscription, it’s crucial to get familiar with the rules concerning alcohol licensing and shipping. Due to these requirements, companies that already sell and ship wine will have an easier time entering the market. Most typically, wine clubs deliver a few select bottles of wine in a cardboard box - normally half a crate or a full crate (6 or 12 bottles)

However, some businesses go beyond that. For instance, they include tasting info sheets that describe the wine, or food pairings like cheeses or nuts. What is more, to stand out, you can appeal to a specific market niche, such as organic wine, spiced wine, or champagne. Finally, why not try themed boxes? Get some inspiration from the popular wine subscription services like Winc, Thrive Market, Primal Wine Club, Harry & David Wine & Cheese Pairing Club, The Sip and Bright Cellars.

Your next steps

When you've decided on WHAT you want to fill your box with, now it's time to take your next steps to market your box. Let's take a closer look at your next steps to success.

Price your box

Approach your pricing strategy with diligence and consideration. Avoid pricing it too low or too high: in both cases, there's a lot to lose. To come up with a reasonable price, consider the following:

  • cost of the items your box features
  • cost of the box itself, including accessories such as stamps or stickers
  • cost of the packing materials like filler paper and bubble wrap
  • fulfillment costs
  • shipping costs
  • transaction and platform fees
  • marketing costs

Think of logistics

Next, you need to take a couple of essential business decisions before you launch your box. You'll have to arrange for product sourcing, ordering boxes, as well as come up with the shipping schedule.

Create a website

Building a website from scratch can be a challenging task, however, you don't actually need to do that. Luckily, there are plenty of user-friendly ecommerce platforms you can use to sell your boxes, like Subbly.

Subbly was developed specifically for subscription box businesses. It is a robust platform that covers a range of subscription-focused features such as a subscriber CRM, website designer, analytics, a sales-ready marketplace, and even more. Subbly enables box subscription owners to track inventory and shipments, get valuable insights into their business performance as well as manage customers and orders — everything in real time!

Get started

Finally, start accepting orders and shipping your boxes. Don't forget to notify your subscribers of the first ship date. It's also a great idea to set up some last-minute promotions and sneak peeks to drive more customers to convert.

That's not all

Of course, shipping your first boxes is a good reason to celebrate, however, if you’re aiming for major success, it's not the time to relax just yet. When your first batch of boxes is sent out to their new owners, take your time to analyze your first month or quarter and figure out if your assumptions about the niche and target audience were right. Before your second batch of boxes goes out, make sure you analyze the following aspects:

  • your customer profile (is it relevant?)
  • your marketing channels (which work well and which it would be better to quit)
  • sourcing the products (are there any vendors you'd like to stop partnering with?)
  • your subscribers' satisfaction level (to know this, don't forget to ask them for feedback)
  • communication with the customers (are there any areas for improvement?)

Final thoughts

We hope we gave you some inspiration for starting your subscription business. The main thing about a great subscription service is to give people that feeling of surprise each month by providing them with things they need, whether you’re sticking to a narrow niche, or delivering a variety of items in your box.

Also, remember that you need a great website to show the world who you are and make people remember you. That’s why it’s important to pool subscription box website ideas that will help you communicate with your audience through color, shape and other design elements. Have a look at our website templates or design one from scratch with our drag-and-drop website builder.

Join the Facebook Group for Idea Feedback

Join a Facebook group called Subscription Box Entrepreneurs where fellow business owners discuss the ins and outs of running a subscription business.

  • If you’re serious about starting your first subscription business, why not run your idea past people who have been there and done it already?
  • If you don’t get the response you’re looking for, remember our support team talks with hundreds of our customers every single day.
  • Maybe they can help with some basic advice and guidance?

Subscription Box Ideas That We Wouldn’t Recommend.

You could find out what not to do by asking the opposite question like this guy did. Sometimes by coming up with a list of things that wouldn’t work, you’ll thinking of something that does.

A list of the worst ideas for a subscription box are:

  • Mobile phones
  • Computers
  • Coffins
  • Fly swatters
  • HVACs
  • Couches/sofas
  • And many more...
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