Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball

Our Sub Box Tech Stack: Updated

December 13, 2021 Julie Ball Episode 104
Subscription Box Basics with Julie Ball
Our Sub Box Tech Stack: Updated
Show Notes Transcript

#104 - In this week's episode of Subscription Box Basics, we are talking about the tech stack that we use at Sparkle Hustle Grow. We're a multi six-figure subscription box business, and we have changed our tech stack along the way based on needs, based on pricing, based on so many different things. So grab a pen and paper as we do a little rapid fire of the software that we use in Sparkle Hustle Grow.

Sparkle Hustle Grow:
-use the code SBBPODCAST to get $10 off of your first box
Rollo thermal printer:
Dymo 4XL:
Help Scout:
-Try it free for 15 days and get a $50 credit when you sign up
Leaddyno -
ShareASale -

Julie (00:01):

So you want to launch a subscription box and 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!

Julie (00:20):

Hey everybody, and welcome back to Subscription Box Basics. I'm your host Julie Ball. It is mid December guys. We almost did it. We almost made it through 2021. It is super busy here at Sparkle Hustle Grow headquarters. So today I want you to grab a pen and paper, and we're going to do a little rapid fire here. I'm talking about the tech stack that we use at Sparkle Hustle Grow. That means, you know, which softwares do we use to run our subscription box business. We're a multi six-figure subscription box business, and we have changed our tech stack along the way based off of needs, based off of pricing, based off of so many different things.

Julie (01:07):

So if you listened to our last episode, gosh, it must've been two years ago where I talked about the software that we use. You may find that it is a little bit different. So grab a pen and paper. I'm going to tell you the software that we use.

Julie (01:23):

Sparkle Hustle Grow has been in business for over five years. And the entire time we have used Cratejoy as our software platform. Can you believe that? Yes, we use Cratejoy. So if you haven't heard of Cratejoy, it is an all-in-one software platform for subscription box businesses, but there's kind of separate places. You need to think about it as one as your e-commerce software. So where you're going to run your subscriptions, we're going to run your website from, and then the other side is the Cratejoy marketplace and the Cratejoy marketplace is think of like Etsy. How would a marketplace for makers, right? Or Faire is that marketplace for product based business owners. Well Cratejoy is the same thing, but for subscription box businesses. So you could go to, and search all kinds of different interests or browse by category. And you can literally find a subscription box for everything out there. I swear. But we use it. So we are listed on that marketplace. Yes, but we also use Cratejoy as our cart software. So that means when someone goes through our subscribe flow and they are going to become a new subscriber of Sparkle Hustle Grow, they actually check out through our Cratejoy cart. Now with that, we use Stripe and PayPal. Stripe is like the number one, the go-to that's the one I would recommend if you're only going to choose one use Stripe, that is your payment processor. So that's the actual technology that's going to collect the credit card information and process that transaction. And then eventually put that into bank account.

Julie (03:00):

So we use the combination of Cratejoy and Stripe, but we also use PayPal, which I don't think Cratejoy actually allows for new integrations, but I'd have to double check on that. So anyhow, we use Cratejoy, but if you go to our website, you'll say you might look at and say that doesn't look like a Cratejoy website. Well, that's true. We use WordPress on the front end and Cratejoy on the backend and how that works is we've created the majority of our pages in WordPress, and we use the Divi theme. We've been using it for probably almost five years now. And it's easy to use. It is very flexible. We love it. So the front end of our website is WordPress. Now, once you start going through the subscribe flow, that's when the user gets kind of thrown to the Cratejoy pages.

Julie (03:51):

So if you want to go check it out, go to, click on subscribe and go through that entire subscribed flow. And I welcome you to subscribe. If you want, you can use the code SBBPODCAST, and you can get $10 off your first subscription, but anyhow, if you want to see how the Cratejoy WordPress works, um, you can go through that subscribe flow, but you'll notice that it's not like this techie integration, rather. It is just when you click on the subscribe link, that button links to our Cratejoy product. So it's that simple.

Julie (04:28):

Okay. So moving on email marketing service provider. So in the past we've used MailChimp and we liked it. It was okay. But the problem was, as we grew our list, the cost got astronomical. It became just too much for us to bear. So it must've been about, I don't know, two years ago we switched to Flodesk, which we love. It is a really, I want to call it bare bones, but they're, they keep adding new things to it.

Julie (04:58):

So, we got in on beta pricing, which was super inexpensive. And if you go to the show notes, we even have a referral link for you. That'll give you a discount. But what I love about it is it's easy to use. It doesn't charge at the time of this recording. It doesn't charge you more. The larger your list gets, which is so awesome. So you can continue to scale and it not, you know, break the bank and Flodesk has the most beautiful email builders that I've seen around. I just love them because when we send these emails, they just look so pretty. And that might not be important to you, but it's important to us at Sparkle Hustle Grow because our audience is sensitive to that. They want to see beautiful things. They are attracted to colorful things, things that move like sparkle or gifts or things like that. So we're able to use that in Flodesk. So we love that for our email marketing service provider.

Julie (05:58):

Now we do use it for lead generation because you can use forms and segments and all that good stuff we have workflows. Workflows are kind of like these automated campaigns. We talk about that often where you want to set up some automated campaigns, a good example would be a new subscriber welcome campaign. And so that might be a series of three to five emails where you're kind of laying the foundation for that new subscriber, welcoming them, telling them what to expect, all those good things. Another good example of one of those automated campaigns might be a nurture campaign. So maybe you've collected their email address in exchange for a PDF download or an exchange for a coupon code. So you want to nurture those people through kind of this workflow to convert them to become a new subscriber, right?

Julie (06:49):

So we have some of those set up in Flodesk as well. Love it. Now, the one thing I don't love about Flodesk is that it doesn't have a built-in integration with Cratejoy, but have no fear. There is a Zap for that. If you haven't heard of Zapier before, hopefully I'm saying that, right. I don't know if Z A P I E R. Zapier is this product, this software that allows you to integrate different softwares, different web applications that you use. And it is you don't have to use a developer. Basically you can create these automated workflows with their template. Both have to be in the Zapier library of apps or library of software. But if they are, you can use a zap to connect them. And it's a beautiful thing. We use a lot of zaps for all kinds of different things. And so that's how we connect our Cratejoy with our Flodesk, our cart software with our email marketing software.

Julie (07:53):

Okay. Moving on. So as part of Sparkle Hustle Grow, we have a member hub, and this was one of those challenges that we had with Cratejoy didn't offer any sort of digital product or member hub or anything like that. So we decided to use MemberVault, and that's where we house all of our digital perks for Sparkle Hustle Grow. So for example, we include business training every single month, we include a digital workbook. We include all kinds of other freebies, like fun things like playlists, screensavers, and cell phone backgrounds and stuff like that. So we put all of that in our member vault, and guess what? Yep. We use a zap to connect it so that when we send out new information or, you know, drop our new business trainings in our member hub every single month on the first, we're able to use zaps to help us out with that.

Julie (08:48):

Okay. So another thing that is super important with product based businesses, any business in general, but specifically with subscription box businesses, cause that's what we're talking about is customer service. So we use a company called Help Scout. Help Scout allows us to filter all of our support desk tickets. So anyone who emails to, it's automatically going to go into our help desk. And it's this way for us to track where it is and its status. Like, is it an open ticket? Is it a pending ticket or is it a closed ticket? It allows us to have multiple people answering these support tickets in our support inbox. And so, but it's still going to come from It allows us to run some reports to see, you know, what's our average time to respond to a ticket or, you know, is there something that like a category of tickets that we're getting inundated with, it helps you just have more data about your business.

Julie (09:53):

But the big thing is for us to get in there and respond to support tickets in a timely manner, have some canned responses if possible, and also to delegate. So we have multiple people using our Help Scout account. So certain things will get delegated to certain people. And it's just a really easy way for us to keep track of our customer service tickets.

Julie (10:16):

Okay. The next thing I want to talk about is shipping. It is crucial to have a shipping partner that you can trust that is easy to use that integrates with your software and gives you really good pricing. And for that we use and recommend PirateShip. I used it at the beginning. I use it five years in now. I did have to take a pause from using PirateShip when I worked with a certain warehouse in the past a certain fulfillment center, sometimes when you outsource your fulfillment, they will require you to purchase postage through them.

Julie (10:51):

But I have never gotten as good rates as I do when I use Pirate Ship. So we are in tier one because Sparkle Hustle Grows box is six by nine by three inches. So that is the smallest tier for cubic rate pricing. We average probably about $8 and 50 cents to maybe $8 and 75 cents per box using USPS priority mail, cubic rate shipping. I love it. I'm so pumped about that price. I'm super happy with it. PirateShip has amazing customer service and they talk to you like a pirates in their chat. So I love that. It just brings me a little bit of joy during the Workday.

Julie (11:31):

One of the best things about it is that it integrates directly with Cratejoy. So what that means is when I open up PirateShip, I can easily import all my data from Cratejoy and run reports, run my postage. There's all kinds of different filters. So for example, I run our batches in two batches. Basically I run our regular batch and then I run our gift batch. So there's an easy filter that allows me to do that with pirate ship. You can even print packing lists. You can print gift messages right on your label printer. And it's, it works like if you want to just put that in there. I like to print out gift messages on a nice postcard that invite the gift recipient to join. But if you are just trying to get through these gift labels, you can easily do that through PirateShip. I pair up my PirateShip software with a Dymo 4XL label printer and a Rollo printer. So I've got the Dymo printer in my home office, like right next to my desk, so I can easily print them on the fly. But for my batch shipments where we're printing hundreds at a time, I prefer the Rollo.

Julie (12:43):

Now I started with the Dymo because it was less expensive. And then I upgraded to the Rollo, but I like to keep both because we've got, you know, our warehouse on site. So we keep the Rollo over there and the Dymo stays in my office just to make things easy. Okay.

Julie (12:59):

So next I want to talk about referral marketing and affiliate marketing. So this is not one of my strong suits, but we do it and we do have success with it, but I just haven't cracked the code when it comes to influencers and referrals yet. However, I do want to share with you that we use LeadDyno software. It integrates with Cratejoy.

Julie (13:22):

We've had good success with it with minimal effort. There's some things that we've automated. So for example, when someone becomes a new subscriber on that checkout confirmation page, we invite them to join our Lead Dyno program. And we also invite them again via email. So it's very, very easy to get people into the program. It's just a matter of making sure people share that referral link, that it's top of mind awareness that you are paying them on time and you are promoting it. So again, we use LeadDyno and we just recently joined, ShareASale. I heard about it through some friends and colleagues. Then I met some people from ShareASale at the SubSummit. And at that point we decided to join. We gave it a try and we're having some success in there so far. I'm working with them to create a training and interview them on the podcast here. So stay tuned. We will be sharing a lot more about ShareASale.

Julie (14:21):

The last software that I want to talk about 'cause I know I've covered a lot today and I don't want to overwhelm you. I just want to give you the basics. I'm not telling you exactly, you know, the details of all these softwares, but just like the high level overview.

Julie (14:35):

So let's talk about project management software as a subscription box business owner. You have a lot of workflows, a lot of SOP standard operating procedures, a lot of tasks that are on repeat have to happen every single month because maybe you're a monthly subscription or maybe it's every quarter. You're a quarterly subscription box. In any case, there's things that need to get done on a recurring basis. And maybe it's just you in your business, or maybe you have a small team. If you have a small team, I highly recommend you get a project management software. In the past, we have used Basecamp because it was something that I had used before with other businesses. And I liked it. But recently we switched to Asana and we are in love. It makes it super easy to have recurring tasks. So for example, maybe there's a certain post, like the new box theme or, you know, it's shipping day. You can schedule those as tasks in your Asana, and then when you check them off, you can have them automatically repopulate for the same day, the next month. So it's just month after month, it's this beautiful kind of automated task reminders. Oh, I love it. And there's so many different views you can see in their calendar views, task views, all kinds of different views depending on how your brain works. So I feel like the brains of my small team all work in different ways. And one way that we've been able to kind of all get on the same page is through Asana.

Julie (16:12):

So that is the project management software that we are currently using and loving. Okay. Let's just do a quick review of the tech stack that we talked about today and we'll make sure to put all the links to all of these softwares. Some of them, we have special links that are referral links that we may get a kickback, but you also may get a good deal on. So check out those links in the show notes.

Julie (16:35):

So in review we use Cratejoy as our cart, along with Stripe and PayPal as our payment processors. On our website, we use WordPress on the front end with the Divi theme for email marketing. We use float ask and we connect that to Cratejoy with a zap from Zapier. For our digital assets, we use MemberVault. For our customer service, we use Help Scout. For our referral program, we use LeadDyno and ShareASale. For shipping, we use PirateShip with a Dymo 4XL printer, as well as the Rollo printer, and those printers I forgot to mention they don't require ink. How cool is that? They are thermal printers. So they use heat on special labels to print. So it's so awesome that you don't have to stock up on ink. And then lastly, for our project management software, we use Asana.

Julie (17:35):

Hopefully this helps you. You might've been wondering that in the past, like I wonder what Julie uses for Sparkle Hustle Grow and there you have it. As always I would love so much if you would subscribe, rate, review, and if you have a minute share one of your favorite episodes with a friend or colleague that is interested in subscription box businesses. It is the best way to support me and to help motivate me to continue this podcast with lots and lots of value. It is something that I love. It's actually one of the things in my business that I love the most. So I love pouring into you guys. Thank you for allowing me into your day and I'll see you in the next episode.