Harness the Power of the Subscription Box

Over the past few years, subscription boxes have popped up in almost every retail industry. From cosmetics to jewelry to geek collectibles to books, you can have a selection of surprises arrive at your doorstep every month. And then of course, there’s the food subscription boxes! Ranging from the traditional “Cheese of the Month” style offerings to specially curated collections of paleo-friendly snacks, the discerning foodie has a dizzying array of options.

Is your food company part of this trend? Should you be? Obviously, if you sell ice cream or other frozen foods, a subscription box may not be practical for you. But if your products are non-perishable, there are a lot of benefits to either running your own subscription box, or getting your products into box designed to introduce customers to new brands every month.

If you’d like to offer your own subscription box, you need to ask yourself if you have a wide enough variety of products to keep it interesting. Will you send the same selection to everyone, or have different options? Will your existing staff manage it, or will you have to hire a new team dedicated to the project?

The benefit of creating your own subscription box is that you control all of the contents, and you won’t be competing with other brands. However, you’ll also primarily only be reaching your existing customers. You can leverage this by giving your subscribers the chance to try new products and give you feedback. Additionally, you can implement a referral program that will encourage them to be brand evangelists and bring in new customers.

On the other hand, you may find that you want to be part of an existing subscription box. This is ideal if your company has a more limited selection of items, or if you don’t want to invest in developing and marketing your own subscription box. If you decide to go this route, you’ll want to ask yourself what item(s) would be be best to send, and if you also want to include a coupon code or other incentive to encourage people to order more. You’ll also want to ensure that you’re capable of producing enough product to include in the subscription box without throwing off your usual production cycle.

Being part of multi-brand subscription box allows you to reach new customers who may not have heard of your brand yet, or who had been meaning to give you a try. Getting your food into peoples’ hands is the best advertising!

For those of you who only do B2B sales, a subscription box may not seem like an obvious part of your business plan, but if you see any of your distributors providing products for boxes or even developing their own service, you should express your interest in being part of one. It will still build your brand’s reputation, even if it won’t necessarily result in additional B2B sales.

Before you commit to either organizing your own subscription box or getting your products included in one, you should of course sit down and crunch the numbers over what the initial cost should be versus the predicted results. If participating in someone else’s box, consider shopping around to get an idea of what’s going on in the industry, and choose the service that offers you the best terms, or seems to provide the best experience for the customer (which will in turn give the customer a better impression of your brand for being a part of it).

Has your company already participated in a subscription box? Share your experience in the comments!

-AJ

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