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EXECUTION Building a subscription box business

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df1992

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Im in the middle of my own process, today I went out and offered free samples door to door knocking / flyers / calling....

Something to consider. See if people express interest from a sample of the product, you could start small and just give away 10 or so and see the response. Doesn't hurt, I handed out a few and got crickets, but just today asked the person why they didn't like the product and they quickly explained the problems.

''paid feedback'' is what I'll call it :clench:

I really like that... I think there is something in the "old marketing ways" as no one does it anymore. Weirdly it's probably an easy way to stand out from the crowd.

Paid feedback sounds very valuable!!
 

df1992

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I was wondering about the survey you launched.

What software did you use to do it? Surveymonkey? Was it expensive to get 100 reviews.

—-

I have had landing page before to validate one of my products. I remember paying close to a $1 for email + feedback. I optimized my fb campaigns for “email”.

Once I switched to “lookalikes”, my cost per lead halved or even became less.

I wouldn’t do it again, just because it takes $$$ to optimize your cost per lead. Took me around 500. But worth it I’d say.

Yeah that's my reservation about validating an idea with landing pages, is that you need a fairly big budget to tinker with ads before you get the magic sauce right. Good idea about switching to LAA as soon as I have another data I think ill do that.

For the survey I used surveymonkey... it's free if you only do 9 questions (so it was limiting), in hindsight I think I may have preferred using a google/microsoft forms as I could have had a few more questions. Equally I wanted a short survey, so to actually get responses.. most people will not be assed if it's longer than 5 mins.

I did a giveaway for a £25 Amazon voucher and I posted it on my socials (I have an account with 2600 followers which helped) plus got my friends to share it round.
 

df1992

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May 26, 2020
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A dump Questio: what exactly do people mean with a „subscription box“?
Is that something special or does it only mean a servic or deli thats payed monthly?

It's basically a recurring delivery of a box which contains a bunch of products focused on a particular niche. The customer might be sent a box each month, 2 months or 3 months. Generally they are really focused boxes, so could be anything from a kids craft box, beauty box, arts and craft box, coffee, tea, pet toys, wizard box, books, bird seed box, shaving, beer, gin, snacks etc...the list is kind of endless.

The consumer likes it as every month they get something new and different delivered each month in their particular niche, so there's a lot of excitement around the "unboxing" event. Basically a present getting delivered to yourself that's been really nicely curated.

Famous ones are: Birchbox, Craft Gin Club, Glossy box, Kiwi co, toucanbox

I'm a massive fan of the craft gin club and get it every 3 months and it's genuinely really exciting as I try gin, flavour, products that i would never try and there's always a nice story that comes with it.

Great for a business as you can build a great business from a small loyal customer base and focus on creating a superb box each month.
 

df1992

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May 26, 2020
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This thread is so exciting, some great info! I can't wait to read more about your progress @df1992 . I'm considering launching a subscription box for my community of around 500,000 people.

wow that's a hell of a lot of people, I think you have a MASSIVE head start over me haha.

What topic/interests is your community built on and would you build a box around this? Sounds like you have an epic launchpad, congrats for building a massive community!!!
 

spElle

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wow that's a hell of a lot of people, I think you have a MASSIVE head start over me haha.

What topic/interests is your community built on and would you build a box around this? Sounds like you have an epic launchpad, congrats for building a massive community!!!

The community is built around positivity, and the community are very engaged, I would definitely build a box around this. I'd love to get to where 1% of the fans subscribe, so it's about adding the right value that will attract customers.

I learnt a lot from practice and also the aforementioned Rachel Miller, I've always enjoyed growing organic audiences on social media platforms. Feel free to hmu with any FB related questions anytime.
 

Ing

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It's basically a recurring delivery of a box which contains a bunch of products focused on a particular niche. The customer might be sent a box each month, 2 months or 3 months. Generally they are really focused boxes, so could be anything from a kids craft box, beauty box, arts and craft box, coffee, tea, pet toys, wizard box, books, bird seed box, shaving, beer, gin, snacks etc...the list is kind of endless.

The consumer likes it as every month they get something new and different delivered each month in their particular niche, so there's a lot of excitement around the "unboxing" event. Basically a present getting delivered to yourself that's been really nicely curated.

Famous ones are: Birchbox, Craft Gin Club, Glossy box, Kiwi co, toucanbox

I'm a massive fan of the craft gin club and get it every 3 months and it's genuinely really exciting as I try gin, flavour, products that i would never try and there's always a nice story that comes with it.

Great for a business as you can build a great business from a small loyal customer base and focus on creating a superb box each month.
Thank you!
Your explanation make it from a vague idea ihad about it to the fact.
 

sparechange

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df1992

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Update 03/09/2020

I've stopped my ads, the results sucked and it was draining money. Hard to know whether my ad sucked, landing page sucked or idea sucked. I have a feeling it could be a mixture, but I still think the idea well executed could work and there is a big audience for it.

I've been so focused on ads, landing pages etc that I've lost touch on the actual concept. SO, rather than getting someone to sign up to an email list, I'm going to build roughly 10/20 x prototype boxes and put them on Etsy as a quick and low cost way to see if people will buy the concept... watch this space..
 

sparechange

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Update 03/09/2020

I've stopped my ads, the results sucked and it was draining money. Hard to know whether my ad sucked, landing page sucked or idea sucked. I have a feeling it could be a mixture, but I still think the idea well executed could work and there is a big audience for it.

I've been so focused on ads, landing pages etc that I've lost touch on the actual concept. SO, rather than getting someone to sign up to an email list, I'm going to build roughly 10/20 x prototype boxes and put them on Etsy as a quick and low cost way to see if people will buy the concept... watch this space..

I triple dog dare you to talk to ten people in the neighborhood door knocking & cold call 10 people offering a free sample.

Let us know how it goes, if they like the product, you just earned 10 customers. If they don't like the product at least you have some real data to work with.

g89v34eh7y.jpg
 

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df1992

Bronze Contributor
May 26, 2020
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146
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London
Update 16/09/2020

The plan now is to make 80 initial boxes and to try and sell them as validation for the business before going down the subscription route. The reason for 80 is that it gives me a enough scale to create good packaging (which is vital) and to test a couple of different SKU's to see what people like etc.

It's really hard to create a decent prototype box that would actually do the real thing justice, so I'm just going to go for it. Investment wise, it'll cost me about £600-750 which can come from my "FU money pot" so I'm comfortable with it.... Plus I'm finding it really fun to try and create something.

Target is to have the boxes live for the end of October and especially in time for Christmas.

One thing I'm still battling with is do I go down the Etsy route or the Shopify route.

For some reason this thread seems appropriate, especially Rachel Miller’s videos linked to later on:

As recommended by Andy, I've started building an audience over the last 3 weeks and have a modest 132 followers on Instagram. The most interesting thing is that I've already had 3 people DM me saying they're excited to see me launch and grow, which is some soft validation. It's been pretty valuable to immerse myself in the industry and to look at the competition which basically all looks the same and I think it would be easy to stand out with a quirky brand.

Making content can be a bit daunting, but I've just been making 7 posts on Canva at once so I have a week's supply to quickly post when I have a spare 5 mins, which has been fine.

I triple dog dare you to talk to ten people in the neighborhood door knocking & cold call 10 people offering a free sample.

Let us know how it goes, if they like the product, you just earned 10 customers. If they don't like the product at least you have some real data to work with.

This makes me die inside lol... which is why I think it's a fantastic idea and I will be doing it once I've got samples to give.
 

spElle

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One thing I'm still battling with is do I go down the Etsy route or the Shopify route.

I'd go with Shopify. It gives you more control over your store and business. Many people have had experiences with Etsy where they're banned unexpectedly.

Alternatively, if you're wanting to take advantage of Etsy's search feature, you could always focus on your own site but list on Etsy too (although this could be confusing for customers).

Good luck with the samples, and nice job growing the Insta!
 

Andy Black

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Making content can be a bit daunting, but I've just been making 7 posts on Canva at once so I have a week's supply to quickly post when I have a spare 5 mins, which has been fine.
I signed up to Rachel Miller's postdeck.io, not that I've used any of the suggestions to create posts... I just wanted to see what it suggested. It's so damn cheap I'll stay subscribed and find some use for it.
 

df1992

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May 26, 2020
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I signed up to Rachel Miller's postdeck.io, not that I've used any of the suggestions to create posts... I just wanted to see what it suggested. It's so damn cheap I'll stay subscribed and find some use for it.

That's an interesting product... does it come up with good suggestions or are they a bit generic? I can imagine it being useful, especially with the scheduler
 

Andy Black

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That's an interesting product... does it come up with good suggestions or are they a bit generic? I can imagine it being useful, especially with the scheduler
I think they're very good prompts. A lot of them are fill in the blanks.
 

sparechange

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Update 16/09/2020

The plan now is to make 80 initial boxes and to try and sell them as validation for the business before going down the subscription route. The reason for 80 is that it gives me a enough scale to create good packaging (which is vital) and to test a couple of different SKU's to see what people like etc.

It's really hard to create a decent prototype box that would actually do the real thing justice, so I'm just going to go for it. Investment wise, it'll cost me about £600-750 which can come from my "FU money pot" so I'm comfortable with it.... Plus I'm finding it really fun to try and create something.

Target is to have the boxes live for the end of October and especially in time for Christmas.

One thing I'm still battling with is do I go down the Etsy route or the Shopify route.



As recommended by Andy, I've started building an audience over the last 3 weeks and have a modest 132 followers on Instagram. The most interesting thing is that I've already had 3 people DM me saying they're excited to see me launch and grow, which is some soft validation. It's been pretty valuable to immerse myself in the industry and to look at the competition which basically all looks the same and I think it would be easy to stand out with a quirky brand.

Making content can be a bit daunting, but I've just been making 7 posts on Canva at once so I have a week's supply to quickly post when I have a spare 5 mins, which has been fine.



This makes me die inside lol... which is why I think it's a fantastic idea and I will be doing it once I've got samples to give.

I finally got an order for a sample, now just need to figure out the selling part... :praise: Got a 0.2% conversion rate on a $12 fb ad (500 reach) seems quite low..

You don't need to have the full & ready product to pre sell them or at the very least have a free trial option on a website, capture emails...phone numbers and talk to people.
 

df1992

Bronze Contributor
May 26, 2020
81
146
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London
Update 19/10/2020

I've been quiet on this thread but have made some really nice progress over the last month. I've been having bags of fun with it and have been really enjoying the process. For me this is the first time I've created a true brand, which I'm learning a lot from.

My Instagram following is nearly 700 and what's been really powerful is bringing my followers on my journey with me. I've been asking them things like "Should I have logo A or B, Slogan A or B, packaging A, B or C etc". This has led to great engagement and also great insight, so I've been tailoring my product based on that. I've actually managed to create a little buzz, with people messaging me asking when they can buy the product, when I'm launching etc. and this is before even showing them what's properly inside of the box!

The one thing that has been holding me up is branding and design, it's taken way longer than expected (literally by 2 or 3 weeks) but I am due the final files for all my different designs today. This for me is really important as I want to switch this business into a subscription box model, the "unboxing experience" is key. So I've worked a lot on how I can make this a "wow moment" for when a person receives the box and how I can create lots of value for the customer. A lot of this is branding and design and in the content which I'm creating for the box.

What I've done since last update
  • Working on brand and design
  • Lots and lots of tinkering, testing and trialling with friends and family
  • Social engagement
  • Commercial modelling
  • Sourced and had delivered all of my product
  • Created content
  • My gf has built a connected product which can be used as an upsell into the box as an optional extra (and fits perfectly).. again we've been having fun with this and will cost about £125 to create 25 x handmade products which we hope to sell for roughly £10 per product as an upsell). If it works, the next batch would only cost around £60 to make 25.
  • Built a marketing plan
So next steps before launch:
  • Order remaining branded items (labels, box etc.)
  • Build the boxes!
  • Try to generate a much bigger buzz before launch by:
    • Sending my boxes to around 15-20 micro-influencers on Insta/YouTube(ones from between 1000-5000 followers who have crazy engagement)
    • 5 Product giveaways on my insta
    • 5 product giveaways with the top 5 micro influencers insta
    • Create a newsletter - a certain amount of referrals = free gifts for users
  • Whilst the pre-launch phase is in action, I will start building my Shopify store (until then I have a URL with my domain which has a simple "Let me know when you launch" type CTA). I don't have much experience in this but have bought a 10 hour udemy course for highly converting landing pages to help me do it. Again this process is just fun as it has and will continue to teach me a lot.
  • Launch!
From my first batch of boxes, with the amount I'm giving away the goal is to break even in the hope that I will generate significant interest and sell out quickly (in the hope of creating scarcity for my second and bigger batch!).

I'm loving the process and I find the money side really interesting. To test this idea, aside from the time I'm putting into it, it will cost me around £850-900 for roughly 95 boxes. After I giveaway 30 boxes and (hopefully!) sell the remaining 65 boxes, I should basically break even and I plan to sell each box for £20-22 (including P&P).

The money I've put into this business is the profit I've made from a previous product I made, so this is my "Have fun and just do it" money.

My next update will be when I've officially launched!
 

df1992

Bronze Contributor
May 26, 2020
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146
118
London
Update 21/011/2020

The biggest lesson I've learnt over the last month is that building a business whilst moving into your first ever home is an awful idea LOL!

My and the girlfriend got the keys to a flat we bought just under a month ago and it's been all systems go for decorating, painting, moving in, getting sorted and general life admin. It's basically meant I had to hit pause for a couple of weeks as it had to take priority.

However I'm now back on track:
  • Last week I hired a professional camera and lighting and took some high-quality product photos (and man did I underestimate the time required to go through, edit and pick the best from over 1600 photos).
  • IG account is on 920 followers
  • Building the Shopify store
  • I've pre-launched my website with a waiting list with 75+ sign-ups in 5 days at the moment (I'm running a simple product giveaway competition for everyone who signs up to my waiting list to be in for a chance to win before I launch, seems to be working well).
Building a Shopify store is harder than I thought in terms of it doing all of the things you want it to do and finding the right apps, but it's all good learnings.

I really need to launch by next week, so it's all systems go. I'm both excited and nervous to see if anyone will buy it or not, but the early signs are good.

Will update after I launch with any sales info.
 

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