How to Start a Subscription Box

If you’re looking to start a subscription box business, or add a new revenue stream to your existing business, let’s look at the practicalities of what you’ll need to think about.

You might also find this post useful: Subscription Box Ideas for Product Businesses.

Step 1. Get inside your customer’s head

The more generic you are, the harder it will be to sell your subscription box. By getting really clear on who your customer is, and what lights them up, you’ll create a box that truly resonates with your ideal customers.

You’ll make hundreds of micro decisions on your branding, packaging, box contents and messaging based on that.

If you already have a business, you may have previously done some thinking around your ideal customer and what they want – but it’s worth reviewing this again, specifically for your subscription offer.

Then think about the appeal of subscription boxes. It’s generally:

  • Curation (excitement / discovery / the new)
  • Ease (something they want to consume or use regularly)
  • Gifting (a beautiful, exciting gift for someone they love)

…or a mixture of the above.

8 Key Elements to create a $100,000+ subscription box Website Banner

Step 2. Know your numbers

There are various components that make up a subscription box – such as the products, packaging & delivery, marketing and overhead costs.

For the actual subscription box, you’re generally looking at costs for:

  • The box itself
  • Packaging
  • Pack & postage
  • Processing fees
  • Printed materials
  • And the products you’ll include

Once you’ve calculated the elements that remain the same box-to-box, they’ll give you a steer on your budget for the products or elements within each box.

Step 3. The Theatre of Unboxing

Now we get into the fun work!

One of the key differences between ordering from a shop online and ordering a subscription box is that little frisson of theatre as your customer opens their box and discovers what’s inside.

How do you make that a beautiful experience, with a little bit of magic?

There’s various opportunities to delight here, from your choice of packaging, to print materials, to the actual products, to little extras.

Step 4. Look at your Whole Customer Journey

Think of your subscriber’s customer journey:

  • From when they first come across your subscription box
  • To your website
  • To their experience of buying
  • To your communication through the purchase process
  • To confirming their box is on its way
  • To follow up afterwards
  • and ongoing communication (the email marketing platform Klaviyo is superb for this)

How do you make your subscribers feel appreciated and cared for?

Step 5. Set up your Tech

If this is the step you’re worried about, don’t be!

There are stand-alone websites platforms specifically geared to subscription box or membership businesses, like Subbly.

If you have an existing online shop set up (e.g., on Shopify or WooCommerce), most online platforms allow you to add a recurring payment option, so you can have your standard products and subscriptions in one place.

Of course, you might want to separate them out too.

Some options are more expensive than others, but it will come down to ease, the costs involved, and your long-term vision for your subscription business. 

8 Key Elements to create a $100,000+ subscription box Website Banner

Step 6. Packing & Delivery

Early days, you may decide to pack in your existing studio or from home (that’s how I started my subscription box business!) and choose a courier or postal method to dispatch.

But as your business grows, you could also look at using a fulfilment centre to handle your subscription box. It will save you time / additional staffing, and won’t overwhelm your current space. 

Step 7. Levers to growth

We’ve talked about the practicalities of creating a subscription box, but I couldn’t leave without mentioning the levers for growth.

In any business, the levers for growth are there – but they’re particularly relevant for subscription boxes…

  • How potential customers find you
  • How many of those people convert to buying and becoming customers
  • How much they spend with you
  • How long they stay subscribed
  • How often they return to buy from you
  • And how they help spread the word, to add more potential customers to your audience

There’s a number of ways you can maximise each element as you delight your customers.

This is a whistle-stop tour of the key areas – and happens to be exactly what we teach inside Subscription Box Academy! If you’d love go deeper into making these work, you can learn more about Subscription Box Academy here.

And, if you’d like more content like this in your inbox, join Simplified Strategy, my free weekly email series to create a more spacious and aligned business, tailored around your strengths. You can sign up at the bottom of this page.

All my best,

Moira Signature

This content may include an affiliate link, as I really rate that person / company and am happy to recommend them. It means I may get a small commission / kudos for sharing them with my community, but you’ll never pay more because of it. ❤️

Moira Fuller business coach green dress