3 Tips for Running a Successful Subscription Box Service

It’s been almost 10 years since subscription box services like Birchbox and Dollar Shave Club hit the market and changed the way we shop. Now, you can pretty much get a box delivered to your door every month for whatever whim you have: beauty, gaming, fitness, pets, and more.

In fact, there are over 5 million subscription box shoppers in the U.S. alone, and the market is still growing. And it’s not just startups – established brands are jumping into the fray, including Sephora (with Play!) and Walmart (with Beauty Box).

With more than 600 retailers offering subscription boxes, how can you make yours stand out from the rest? Whether you’re starting a new subscription box service or trying to minimize churn rates for an existing one, here are some tips to help you succeed:

 

Think inside your curated box

Of course it's all about the box, but we don't just mean the random items inside of it. One thing box recipients appreciate most is the personalization, or the feeling that their box was uniquely curated just for them. Do the research and captivate your customers with your customization.

And don’t just consider demographics like age and location. In your personalization questionnaire, find out what your customers’ biggest challenges are, and what their level of expertise is with your products. This will help you deliver a more tailored experience, which is critical for any subscription box provider.

The better you can predict what your subscribers will like, the more likely they are to keep their subscription going.

 

Don’t get boxed-in

It’s OK to break some of the rules, some of the time – especially when it comes to subscription box services. For example, is it written in stone that you have to ship monthly? (Hint: it’s not.) Maybe your box is more of a quarterly thing.  Or maybe your box could be part of a loyalty program for a legacy retailer.

Another thing to consider is letting subscribers choose their level of service by offering different subscription tiers. A customer reconsidering a $21 monthly subscription might be OK spending $10 on a smaller one.

Don’t limit your service by what everyone else is doing.

 

Capture that unboxing feeling

You know that rush recipients get when they open their curated box of goodies, eager to discover what’s inside? Think about ways to prolong that feeling until the next delivery. The last thing you want is your customer spending the next four weeks contemplating the service.

Make sure to engage your subscribers all month long. Here are some suggestions to keep the momentum going:

  • Encourage subscribers to post unboxing videos or better yet, Facebook Live them. Engage with your subscribers on social media by liking or sharing their posts and reactions. And don’t stop there. Encourage subscribers to post reviews for the individual products inside their boxes as well.
  • Create a loyalty program that allows subscribers to earn points they can redeem for more products. Points, for example, could be earned for referrals, product reviews, videos and social media shares.
  • Build anticipation by adding teasers about next month’s loot to this month’s box, posting sneak peeks to your social media accounts, and emailing safe “spoilers” to your subscribers.

Bottom line: don’t let your subscribers get bored. If they do, it’s on you.

One tip that can’t go unmentioned: fulfillment is key to the success of your subscription box business. Whatever kind of unboxing experience you want to create, our custom kitting services team can make it happen. Learn more about our services.

Color Psychology for Branding & Merchandizing

The science and psychology behind colors is important to consider when measuring the effectiveness of your customer-facing collateral. The colors used for your web pages, advertisements, and exclusive products impact the way current and potential customers perceive your brand. You want to be sure that the color schemes you use resonate with your brand messaging while also evoking the right kind of emotional response from your audience. Whether you're adding a new line of products to your ecommerce site or thinking of re-branding, it's worthwhile to consider how color psychology can work for you. In this post, we'll explain the common psychological associations (from a U.S. cultural perspective) for a spectrum of colors that are useful to retailers and e-tailers alike.

Red    
Associated with: Hunger, Urgency, Danger, Love, Heat
Red is an effective color when placed on call-to-action buttons or ads to grab users’ attention and inspire them to take action.
    
Black
Associated with: Power, Formality, Mystery, Elegance, Expensive, Gravitas
Black is often seen as a color of sophistication and authority, but can come off as intimidating if overused. When used sparingly, black has a grounding effect and pairs well with a spectrum of other shades.

Brown
Associated with: Historical, Traditional, Rustic, Earthen, Classical
Brown shades are very effective when promoting products that have “rugged” qualities, or appealing to audiences with more austere or conservative sensibilities.

Violet
Associated with: Luxury, Magical, Imaginative, Majestic, Passion
Consider the use of violet or purple when unveiling a new or innovative product, as the color invites shoppers into an imaginative experience.

Green
Associated with: Progress, Health, Money, Freshness, Growth, Environmentalism
Most commonly found in the promotion of healthy or environmentally conscious products or services, green can also be used to evoke the concepts of wealth and bountiful prosperity.

Orange
Associated with: Creativity, Expressive, Warm, Exciting, Energetic
Orange is known as the color that “pops.” Consider using for calls-to-action or to highlight product features you would like to bring attention to.

Blue
Associated with: Trust, Calmness, Professional, Reliable, Cool, Peaceful
The color blue puts people at ease. This color works well for promoting customer services or authoritative information.

White
Associated with: Cleanliness, Simplicity, Easy, Purity
White is often used to evoke efficiency, but can come off as cold and sterile if overused. White works best when combined with other colors to soften their impact and add clarity to designs that may otherwise come off as too busy or bright.  

Best Practices for Emailing your Ecommerce Customers

When running an ecommerce business, email marketing is one of your most powerful tools to get products in front of shoppers and convince them to buy. Many sites have leveraged email to build brand reputation, engage with customers, and increase order volume. However, designing and writing emails that drive those kinds of results can be challenging. Follow these best practices to ensure that your emails are more effective.
    

Subject lines

The subject line is your first (and sometimes last) chance to grab the attention of a customer or lead. If the subject line of your email isn’t compelling, your email will get deleted without ever being opened. Make your subject lines concise (which will also keep them from appearing in the inbox as truncated), intriguing, and to-the-point.

Imagery

Images are a great way to enhance the visual appeal of your email, but they should not be the only way your message and/or call to action is conveyed. Additionally, most email services have images from incoming messages disabled by default. If your email only makes sense when the images are visible, then you’re not reaching all of your readers.

Design

Your email message shouldn’t look like a wall of text. Break up written information with sub-headers, images, video links, calls-to-action, etc. to make emails more accessible to your busy readers. You should also make sure that you're emails are optimized for mobile by adjusting the dimensions for mobile displays, decreasing the file sizes for faster loading on mobile networks, and limiting the amount of text.

Ecommerce & Social Media Synergy

Social media is one of the most powerful tools for growing your ecommerce business. But it's not enough to just have an updated Facebook or Instagram page for your site. To be truly effective, your ecommerce site and your social media presence need to work together. By integrating social media features on your ecommerce site, and ecommerce features on your social media pages, you'll be able to grow the audiences faster than you would by treating them as separate. In this post, we'll look at some social media and ecommerce integration points and how they can enhance each other.
    

Social Sharing Plugins

This is a standard tactic you are likely already using, but it's a great example of social media/ecommerce integration. If you don't have them already, add social sharing buttons (like the ones at the top of this blog post) to your product pages and content such as newsletter articles, marketing emails, blog posts, etc.

Social Login

Allowing users to log in to their ecommerce account using their social media credentials makes the registration and checkout process much easier. Social login also allows you to capture data about your website subscribers that you can use to customize your product recommendations and marketing emails to your customers’ interests and preferences.

Sale Funnels

Many social media sites have ways to funnel users directly to your ecommerce, like Facebook's "Shop Now" buttons and Pinterest's "Buyable Pins." If you use these features, don't forget to track their performance in addition to your other sales statistics.

Customer Service

Because it provides a convenience to most consumers, offering customer support through social media is a great competitive differentiator. It's also an excellent opportunity to engage with customers - even the ones who don't need support. By promptly responding to customer issues on social media, you're demonstrating your commitment to customer service to all your followers (not just the ones who need assistance).  

Are Subscription Services Right for your Ecommerce Site?

A recent consumer insights report from Hitwise found that visits to subscription box-based ecommerce sites have increased by about 3,000% in the U.S. over the past three years. With the success that start-ups in this industry - such as Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club, and Loot Crate - have enjoyed, it’s worthwhile to consider if a subscription model would be a viable extension of your ecommerce site.

Subscription-based services generally fall into two categories. Discovery-based subscriptions provide customers with new products in each delivery. As customers receive packages with some products they like, they return to the company to purchase more of the items. Discovery-based subscriptions can be a great way to market certain areas of your product catalog and generate buzz about the products that come in each delivery. Convenience-based subscriptions deliver customer-specified products on a schedule at a discounted rate, which makes this model great for customer retention.

When deciding whether a subscription model is a good fit for your ecommerce business, there are two main factors to consider: the types of products you sell, and whether you have the bandwidth to monitor customer behavior and preferences to keep the subscription service interesting. A wide variety of products in the low-to-medium price range are well-suited for discovery-based subscription program, while a convenience-based subscription program would require a product catalog mostly comprised of essential consumables.

As for your customers, you need to make sure that your subscription service consistently makes the customer feel special through product variety/novelty (discovery-based) and delivers value (both discovery-based and convenience-based). If you can nail that down, you can make subscriptions a successful dimension of your ecommerce business.