Another Way to Help Grow the Industry: Join in!
We’ve mentioned previously how the monthly-subscription box-industry explosion has been a boon to the mail-order fulfillment business. So how do we keep this business growing?
One of the ways is to start your own business.
We take care to only recommend the best tools and products to our association members, so be assured that we have tested out all the products that we are recommending in this post. In fact, we did a case-study for artisan cookies using all these tools below.
How to Start Your Subscription Box Business: The Ultimate Guide
Step 1: Get a Website
Assuming that you have done your research and you’ve found a product that you’d like to offer each month to your consumers, now is the time to get a website live and working.
Here’s how to do it with under $30 (and 24 hours):
– register a domain name. Make it catchy. Use a godaddy promo code from http://couponlynx.org so it only costs 99 cents.
– get hosting for your website. Shared hosting is cheaper, but VPS is faster, and more secure (you’ll be handling payments). Many hosts offer a free trial of their VPS hosting. Try one out.
– Install e-Commerce software. You can either use Paypal (they recently added a subscription model), or you can get professional software like Shopify or BigCommerce to handle it all for you (this is what we did for our case-study).
– Populate your website with your products. You can hire a copywriter to write all the descriptions, or you can do it yourself. We recommend doing it yourself…unless you’re terrible at writing.
Step 2: Set up a Fulfillment Center:
Who is going to assemble your products for you? You need a fulfillment center where the boxes, merchandise, and any insulation/notes are all assembled.
You can rent an office and have the whole production in your own house if you want. But when you’re first starting out, it’ll be better to hire a fulfillment center that has all the staff and tools to assemble your products quickly and cheaply.
Step 3: Set up Customer Support:
When you have customers, it’s good business to offer them support for questions or complaints. Set up an 800-number for your business, and contract it out to a company that specializes in these things (don’t worry, there’s plenty of American-call centers, you won’t be sending your customers to India call centers).
There is one cool way to cut down on the support you’ll need to supply by 90%. This is a neat trick I learned from Tim Ferriss’ 4-hour work week.
When you set up the 800-number, have it go to your own phone. When the first customers start calling, figure out which questions they keep on asking. Write them down.
Then, add an FAQ (‘frequently asked questions) page to your website. This way your customers will get most of their answers before they even call you, and the overall call volume will be much lighter (and cheaper) once you sub-contract out to a call center.
Step 4: Market Your Business:
There’s lots of cool subscription-box review websites that would love for you to send them a box in exchange for a review. A quick google search will turn up dozens. This is a time-consuming (and costly) way of growing your business, albeit worthy.
We’ve found that reviews don’t make that much of a difference with subscription boxes. People will subscribe when it’s a cool idea that they find interesting. So how do you reach your target market?
In a word…Facebook.
Everyone is on Facebook. And you can target by age group, interests, and even the customers of a rival company. So if you’re into…say…artisan cookies, you can target people that like “Mrs. Fields”, or other gourmet cookie companies. These are the people you want to be targeting. Get your target to be as narrow as possible. Just focus on your first hundred customers, and then you can expand out and start going after the mass audience.
There we go! There’s the start. Any questions or comments? Let us know!