Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball

What You Need to Start a Subscription Box Business

December 23, 2019 Julie Ball Episode 5
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
What You Need to Start a Subscription Box Business
Chapters
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
What You Need to Start a Subscription Box Business
Dec 23, 2019 Episode 5
Julie Ball

#005 - In this episode, host Julie Ball talks about the tools and resources you need to launch your own subscription box business. The same tools and resources she is using with her team in Sparkle Hustle Grow. You may consider this as your subscription box business starter kit so you don't have to waste hours and hours scouring Youtube videos, piecing together trainings and getting stuck in decision fatigue.

Main takeaways:

  • The main thing you need (00:01:47)
  • Preliminary market research (00:02:48)
  • Hardware (00:05:22)
  • Software (00:06:44)
  • Packaging (00:09:15)
  • The hero of the box (00:13:27)
  • The thing you absolutely need (00:15:29)

Links:
Sparkle Hustle Grow
Cratejoy
MailChimp
Givr Pack
Sticker Mule
Subscription Box Bootcamp

Show Notes Transcript

#005 - In this episode, host Julie Ball talks about the tools and resources you need to launch your own subscription box business. The same tools and resources she is using with her team in Sparkle Hustle Grow. You may consider this as your subscription box business starter kit so you don't have to waste hours and hours scouring Youtube videos, piecing together trainings and getting stuck in decision fatigue.

Main takeaways:

  • The main thing you need (00:01:47)
  • Preliminary market research (00:02:48)
  • Hardware (00:05:22)
  • Software (00:06:44)
  • Packaging (00:09:15)
  • The hero of the box (00:13:27)
  • The thing you absolutely need (00:15:29)

Links:
Sparkle Hustle Grow
Cratejoy
MailChimp
Givr Pack
Sticker Mule
Subscription Box Bootcamp

Speaker 1:

So you want to launch a subscription box. Don't know where to start. Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball, a subscription box coach and your host here at Subscription Box Basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs that want to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen and paper and let's have some fun!

Speaker 2:

Hey everybody and welcome back to subscription box basics with me Julie Ball. In every episode I'm giving you a behind the scenes look at how I run my multi-six figure subscription box business Sparkle Hustle Grow. I'm teaching you things that I learned on the fly and many times the hard way because I want it to be easier for you. And today we are talking about what you actually need to launch your own subscription box business. I get asked this all the time, what do I need? What tools and resources do I need in place to start my subscription box business? So we're going to dive in and cover that today. So just for a frame of reference, I launched Sparkle Hustle Grow in October of 2016 sending about 60 boxes in our first month. And I was able to grow it into a full time income within nine months.

Speaker 2:

So I'm super excited to have you listening and if you're interested in building your own subscription box business, just know that you can do it. I'm self taught and I've gathered all of these resources on my own and if I can do it, you can do it. My goal here is to reduce your overwhelm and make it so you don't waste hours and hours scouring YouTube videos and looking all over the internet trying to piece it together. So let's get to it. What do you need to start your own subscription box business? So the biggest thing, the main thing you need is a unique box concept that solves a pain point in a specific niche. So you may have this box idea and you may think, Oh, there's so many other people that have the same box idea and that's where you need to get really unique and you need to niche down, niche down and niche down again.

Speaker 2:

You need to make sure that someone says when they see it, "This box was made specifically for me because it's that unique and it just speaks to me". So you need to make sure that you have that unique concept that it solves a pain point. And that's the whole thing about a product, right? Its sole job is to solve a pain point for the customer. So think about that as you're coming up with your box concept. What unique idea or what pain point does your box help someone get over or how does it make their life easier? I'm going to do an entire episode on carving out your concept, but for now try this basic exercise to help you work through it. First, head on over to cratejoy.com and Cratejoy if you don't know already, it's like a marketplace for subscription boxes. Think of Etsy as a marketplace.

Speaker 2:

It's for subscription boxes. So you can go to cratejoy.com and start doing some research there. Look up boxes that might be similar to yours and that will help you get in the right mindset about what's already out there. And what you need to do to make yours unique. I come from an abundance mindset where I truly believe that there's enough to go around, but still it's so important to make your box unique. You have to have something to bring to the table that your competitors don't and that unique point will attract your customers to you. So what I encourage you to do then is on cratejoy.com find those competitors or those potential competitors or even just boxes that are similar, maybe in the same category. Read the reviews. What do people just absolutely love about this box? Take note of that and what do people not love about these boxes?

Speaker 2:

Take note of that too and use this information as sort of a preliminary market research to help you figure out how you're going to be unique and how you're going to do it better than what is already out there in the market. And just to give you a quick example of what I mean when I say niche down, niche down and niche down again. Let me give you this example. So there's a big market for tea, like the drink, tea subscription boxes where you can discover new teas, you can discover new brands, new flavors, that type of thing. But there's so many out there. So how could you make your tea subscription box unique? Maybe you make it for a very specific person, maybe it's tea for yoga enthusiasts or maybe you make a tea subscription box geared towards new moms and there's very specific things that you can include in there that would help a new mom in her new role that she's playing.

Speaker 2:

Maybe some tea with caffeine or tea to help her with nursing. And not only would she see that box and say, "Oh my gosh, that box was made just for me!", but as a consumer looking for a gift, how easy, like if you were looking for a gift for a new mom and you see this tea subscription box for new moms, it's such a no brainer and it makes it such an easy sale. So the first thing that you need to start your own subscription box is that unique box concept that solves a pain point in a specific niche. The next thing that you need is a computer and a printer. Okay, I get it, yeah. This is kind of a no brainer for a web-based business, but it's true. You're going to need a reliable computer and printer. You're going to be selling your product, your subscription box online.

Speaker 2:

So of course you need a computer, something reliable that you can get on every single day, check your sales, make changes in the, in the backend of the software and make sure that your business is running smoothly. Now the printer side of it is simply because if you're selling something you're going to ship, then you need to be able to print labels. Currently I use a thermal printer, so basically it doesn't need any ink in it. It prints using heat, which is so cool. Right? And I use the Dymo for Excel printer. It's super fast. I'm able to print out my labels very quickly. But when I first started I used a basic black and white printer. Um, it was the Brother brand. I think I got it at either Staples or Office Depot and I was buying the print-at-home sticky labels that you can just run them right through your printer.

Speaker 2:

So in those first few months, I just printed them from my black and white printer and it worked. It was slower, sure, but I had fewer boxes to send so it wasn't a big deal. You just need to make sure that you have a reliable computer and some way to print out those labels. The next thing you need is software. So a lot of people think that they can just launch a website and be able to take orders. Well there's something that's going on behind the scenes that you might not realize. It's called cart software and specifically for subscription boxes, it's recurring cart software. This type of software is specifically made for products that it renews on a certain schedule. Like it runs the payment on a recurring basis, if you know what I mean. So when a new customer signs up, they get charged immediately through this e-commerce software, this recurring cart software, and then when they hit their renewal date or you could call it their anniversary renewal date, it will run again.

Speaker 2:

It's a specific type of software that not all e-commerce is set up to do. So here at Sparkle Hustle Grow, we use Cratejoy and earlier I mentioned that Cratejoy is a marketplace for subscription box businesses. But also, Cratejoy is an all-in-one software for the subscription box business owners. Essentially you can take orders, you can build your website on there, you can buy shipping postage actually through the Cratejoy software and you can even run emails through there. Things like sending receipts or change notices. At the time of this recording, Cratejoy software as an all in one costs $39 a month, but they do have a few other pricing tiers and so software is one of those startup costs that you will have to cover. Now, I did mention that it covers some emails that Cratejoy does, but you may also, and you likely will want to have an email marketing software as well.

Speaker 2:

Email marketing software is a software as a service where you can gather email addresses, build your lists, you have people to actually send emails to, to market, to, to talk to, and then you can use that to promote your box. You can use these lists to share information and we like to use MailChimp and it is free up to 2000 contacts. Now that's not your box subscribers, that's list subscribers. So you can actually use that software until you have 2000 people on your list. So it's a great inexpensive way to get started with the combination of using MailChimp and Cratejoy. Now MailChimp is not my absolute favorite when it comes to email marketing service providers, but they integrate seamlessly with Cratejoy. So that's why we use MailChimp here at Sparkle Hustle Grow. The next thing you need to start your subscription box business is boxes, tape and packing materials.

Speaker 2:

No big surprise, right? Because you are selling a subscription box. So with the box, let's talk about that first. We use Givr Pack to print our custom printed boxes and I'll include the link in the show notes. Many of our subscription box bootcampers use and absolutely love them. They're just, they're amazing to work with. They have great customer service and as a bonus, I love this. They plant 20 times more trees than they use to make our boxes. I would definitely call that a win, right? As far as custom boxes, you don't have to do that at startup if you choose not to. There are so many other options. For example, you could buy plain boxes, they come in different colors and you can buy them places like Staples, Uline, Amazon, lots of other places. And then so you take this plain box or this colored box and then you can add your branding.

Speaker 2:

You can use a company like Sticker Mule to have custom stickers made and slap that sticker on top and that could be your box. We love and use Sticker Mule for stickers, but also we buy our custom poly mailers from them for some of our smaller packages. In fact, we have a link that we'll put in the show notes that gives you a $10 credit to Sticker Mule. We just love them. They have really good quality items, but they also ship really fast. When you're starting up your business and you're really cognizant of your budget, or if you really don't have much of a budget at all, you can start very easily with those plain boxes, get some stickers or maybe a stamp. And Sticker Mule also has custom packing tape so you can actually get your logo put right on packing tape and it looks really professional.

Speaker 2:

So you have those choices for boxes when you're starting your subscription box business. But no matter how you design your box, you'll also need tape and packing materials. With mailer style boxes, they typically have a flap that you close, but you're still going to want to secure that. Just use something basic like shipping tape you can get at any store like Target or Staples, and you just want to seal that box so that it doesn't open up in transit. And then with packing materials, this is pretty simple as well. There's plenty of choices you can use. What we do here at Sparkle Hustle Grow is used crinkle cut. Why I love crinkle cut is that it holds things in place. You don't want your box to be all jumbled up and you don't want your products to go everywhere so the crinkle cut keeps your products in place and also sort of protects these products.

Speaker 2:

Giving it a little bit of padding in case it gets bumped around, which is especially important if you have fragile items. Another reason we love crinkle cut is we choose to use like this white and shiny gold like a metallic crinkle cut and it's really pretty and it enhances the user experience. When they open up that box and they see this beautiful shiny crinkle cut and all the products neatly placed in there, it's kind of become part of our brand, part of our unboxing experience. But there's other ways you can do it. You could use tissue paper, I know a lot of boxes, just wrap their products in tissue paper and then put a sticker on top to kind of keep the tissue shut and tissue paper is really inexpensive. You can buy it in bulk at party stores or on Amazon. It's a really inexpensive choice for your packing material.

Speaker 2:

And then of course you could do something like bubble wrap. It's especially important to use bubble wrap if you are shipping something fragile like glass. So if you ship candles or mugs or any type of glass or fragile items you might want to consider bubble wrap. So far we have covered to start a subscription box business that you need a unique box concept that solves a pain point in a very specific niche. You need a computer and a printer and that goes to say you need wifi too, obviously. You're going to need recurring cart software like Cratejoy and you'll probably want to have email marketing software like MailChimp, which again is free until you have 2000 people on your list. You're going to need boxes, tape and packing materials so that you can actually put together the box and ship it. So of course next you need products. I know that's a no brainer as well.

Speaker 2:

The products that you're going to pick are the hero of the box. They're going to be the reason people keep coming back. So you want to spend a lot of time product sourcing and I'll do an entire episode on product sourcing. It is by far one of the biggest questions I get, you know. Where do you get your products? How do you approach vendors and get the best prices? You will want to have a unique mix of products because a lot of times people are subscribing to subscription boxes for product discovery. So those products, you don't really have to buy them necessarily before you launch. In fact, if you listened to the episode where I share my launch story, I mentioned that I had a presale, I really had a zero dollar budget launching my box and I earned my startup money to buy those first products in a private presale that I just sold the subscription box to my VIP list one week before I launched it to the general public and that's how I paid for those products.

Speaker 2:

So it may feel like there's a lot of things you need here to start up, but keep in mind, some of these are free, some of these are low cost and I will provide you with ways to help fund those products. Some things to think about when you're looking at products is you want to spend time curating a really good mix. Make sure there's different sizes of products, different weights of products, and that the products kinda go together in some sort of color scheme or other cohesive manner. For example, at Sparkle Hustle Grow, we have a theme every single month and so we build the products around that theme but we also keep in mind the packaging of each individual product. We want to make sure that they look good together because that can really have a positive impact on the perceived value in the unboxing experience and when a photographer is taking pictures of all those box products.

Speaker 2:

So the last thing that you absolutely need to start a subscription box business is time to commit. This is not one of those get-rich-quick schemes. It's not gonna happen overnight. This is something that you are going to commit to and you want to treat your subscription box business like a business, not a hobby. That being said, it absolutely can be a side hustle. I know so many people who run their box business as a side hustle while they're working full time or maybe they're a stay at home mom and that's actually how I started Sparkle Hustle Grow. It was a side hustle and then within nine months I was able to turn it into a full time income, my full time gig, which I was super excited about. But you know, you definitely have to have time to commit. You don't have to make it full time if that's not what your goal is.

Speaker 2:

This is your race. You are not running against anyone else but yourself. So if your goal is to have a side hustle and earn a part time income, that's totally doable. But it still takes time to commit and that's partly why we're seeing so much success with our students at Subscription Box Bootcamp because I've laid out the roadmap for them to be successful and make better use of their time. They don't waste time scouring the internet anymore, piecing together trainings and getting stuck in decision fatigue. Does that sound like you? Well my friend, I have a freebie for you that could help get you started without any investment and this is actually where a lot of my students get started. I have a free mini training for you over at SubscriptionBoxBootcamp.com/basics it is simply an introduction to the subscription box industry. And paired up with this podcast,

Speaker 2:

you are going to gain so much confidence as you work towards launching your own subscription box. Again, that URL is SubscriptionBoxBootcamp.com/basics and we'll be sure to put that in the show notes. So let's recap the things that I believe you absolutely need to start your subscription box business, a unique box concept that solves a pain point in a specific niche. You need a computer and a printer and wifi and you need some software, just a little bit like the recurring cart software and maybe email software. Other things you'll need are boxes, tape, packing, materials and products to put in those boxes. And then lastly, as I mentioned, you need time to commit to your new venture. Thank you so, so much for joining me for this episode. I hope you're enjoying this podcast. I could talk about this stuff all day long. So just a reminder to visit SubscriptionBoxBootcamp.com/basics to get that free training. And I'll see you in the next episode.

Speaker 3:

[inaudible].