One of the most common questions behind starting a subscription business is this:where do I find the products I include in my monthly box?
It’s a question about product sourcing, alsocalled “procurement,” and it’s this operation that often determines subscriber happiness, loyalty, and the likelihood of referrals.
Watch: Check out Subscription School’s60-minute webinar onProduct Sourcing for Subscription Boxes
Needless to say, sourcing high-quality, targeted products for your niche is critical to your business’ success. To help with just that, below we’ve laid out 7 places where you can source products for your subscription box. Specifically, we’ll discuss:
- Local stores
- Search engines
- Niche websites
- Networking with vendors
Before YouStart: Free or Paid?
Before you start procuring your first box, you need to decide between two purchasing models behind subscription boxes:sourcing free products or sourcing products you pay for.
The difference is significant, and not just for your business’ pocketbook.
Free product sourcing means:
- Improved inherent margins for your subscription business (since there’s no cost for products)
- Pitching your vendor partners on other value outside of monetary compensation
- Potentially impacted product offering (free sourcing usually works best with small, sample or trial-sized items)
- Potentially drives your price down (depends on the quantity/quality of items – or samples –included)
- Requires the vendor to eatthe cost of ingredients and packaging
Purchasing products means:
- Potentially lower marginsorhigher price for customers
- Usually faster & easier negotiations with vendors
- Works with both sample and full-sized items
Once you know if you’re purchasing items or sourcing them for free, you’re ready to start targeting your vendor partners. (And remember, you could do both!)
Local stores are great starting places to get inspiration for the types of products you want to include. While they may not be the vendors you buy from, finding a targeted local store within your niche will provide a treasure trove of items you can physically test inside your box.
Some examples might be walking into your local Whole Foods, Bass Pro Shops, Crate & Barrel, or Hot Topic. The idea is to go to a store that represents your niche – something that attracts the same demographic your business looks for.
- In addition to using the stores for inspiration, use them for prototype box products. Buy the items you’re considering reaching out to, and place them in your box to get a sense of how they’d affect packing configuration.
- Use Evernote or other tools to take pictures and track which products work with your box.
- In some cases, you may be able to work with the owner of a local store if they produce their own goods (like a local candle shop, bath & body goods store, orcraft/clothingvendor).
Search engines are the supermarket of the Internet when it comes to sourcing for your subscription box. The downside is you have tons to go through.
Because of the sheer volume ofresults, the best strategy is to narrow your searches and keep track of which sites/businesses you’ve already found. The goal should be to not only find the right businesses, but to save yourself time in doing that – the fewer the results, the better.
- Use Boolean search terms & useful search operators. By using quotation marks, the words “and,” “or,” and “not,” and narrowing your search to specific sites or including wildcard terms, you can trim off vast amounts of search “junk” – those results that aren’t exactly what you’re looking for.
- Use Evernote’s web clipper extension. This allows you to save siteswith notes in a particular folder. Plus, because this extension integrates with Google, next time you’re surfing for ideas, you can actually see your notes on the right side of your search from Evernote.
Niche ecommerce websites have a similar use as local stores – they’re massive depositories of niche products that could work for your brand.
Say, for example, you’re looking for healthy, natural products for your next box. Using something like Direct Eats, you can search by category and find the best items that fit your theme, from food to beauty to diet & lifestyle goods:
The best part? There are niche ecommerce websites for basically all niches that you see with subscription boxes:
- Health/Organic: Direct Eats, Thrive Market
- Baby: Diapers.com
- Fishing/Outdoors/: Bass Pro Shops, Gander Outdoors
- Geek/Gamer: ThinkGeek
- Beauty: Beauty.com, Beautybar.com
- Pet: Chewy, Pet Mountain
Note: Remember, don’t contact these sites directly. You can use them as a source of leads, then reach out to the product companies individually.
Etsy is a marketplace for mostly small-/medium-sized businesses that often service handcrafted, vintage, and small-batch goods. Don’t let that fool you, though – Etsy’s robust categories of beauty, home goods, and even foodstuffs can mean a lengthy source of new vendors to work with for almost any subscription box.
Plus, Etsy offers great ways to narrow your searches and shop by specific categories. This can speed things up when you’re looking for something specific:
- Etsy’s ability to allow you to narrow your search based on state, city, and country means you can target more local businesses. That means lower shipping costs to you.
- Be diligent. Etsy’s demographic skews far more toward novice/beginner when it comes to vendor business acumen compared to what you’ll find pre-vetted in chain stores or curated niche sites. That’s okay – just understand you might need to do a bit more handholding than with an established vendor.
Are you an Etsy seller yourself? Check out Cratejoy’s Etsy Calculator to see how a subscription box option can magnify your sales.
Alibaba, Indiamart and other global marketplaces offer extraordinarily low costs for bulk goods. And yes, this can include premade items that you can place in your boxes.
But this can depend a lot on which niche you serve. What’s more, these marketplaces usually serve indistinguishable products better than branded, American consumer-ready items – think packaging (bottles, jars, bags), light outdoor equipment, accessories, glasses & mugs, etc.
- Be prepared for large minimums. If you’re looking for glass bottles, try to plan several projects with them, then order enough to hold you over. Most of these marketplaces aren’t useful for small orders (<500 units).
- Make sure you order the correct case/quantity amounts. Items are listed with differing amounts, and long processing and shipping times can mean no time to rush extras.
Note: If you’re specifically looking for American manufacturing, MakersRow offers a database of leads.
Making it easy for vendors to offer submissions can be a simple way to generate warm leads for yourself. This usually becomes an option only after you’ve launched and established a presence, but once that has happened, you’ll likely find yourself fielding a few vendor requests each week.
- Create a custom vendor request form or contact page and add a link to your site’s footer.
- Make it easy for vendors to download or otherwise access resources about you. Have a media kit or brand invitation available through a download link on your vendor contact page, or have it send out automatically once someone reaches out to the specific email you use to field requests (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Get active on Facebook groups or online communities full of targeted vendors. Finding where your vendors spend time online networking with each other and posting there can help generate tons of leads. Consider doing a Facebook group search for your targeted vendor type, like “Etsy stores.”
Sourcing products from well-known companies may seem daunting, but you’d be surprised how many consumer giants offer wholesale products made deliberately with business owners like you in mind. For example,JOANN Fabricshas a huge variety of bulk items perfect for craft or maker subscription boxes.
The best part of buying wholesale from reputable distributors is product quality and positive name association. Say, for example, you’re sourcing for a quilting box. Imagine that in your next month’s shipment, you’re able to include an insert that says this month’s material was sourced by JOANN Fabrics! This brand recognition can instill positive feelings in your subscriber base and a perception of higher value, quality, and legitimacy.
Experiment: Run the numbers on sourcing with our Subscription Box Pricing Guide and Startup Costs Calculator.(Video) How to Find New Product Ideas with Cratejoy!? | Amazon Armory
Subscription Box Product Sourcing
Sourcing products doesn’t need to stop with these approaches. In fact, there are several other ways to find brand partners: like trade shows & conventions, using distributors’catalogs, and even being the source of your own products. Whatever the approach used, the goal is the same – to give yourself exposure and access to brand partners that will resonate with your target demographic and ensure a superior customer experience.
Now that you’ve got your products sourced, make sure you have a box to put them in. Check out the options from Cratejoy’s partnership with BoxUp!
Which methods do you use for product sourcing, and what challenges have you face? Let us know in the comments below.
Cratejoy is an all in one subscription commerce platform that includes everything you need to start your own subscription commerce business online. Try it free for 14 days.
Cratejoy has become the world's first and only Marketplace dedicated to subscription boxes. Join thousands of merchants growing their businesses with Cratejoy today!What is the most popular subscription service? ›
According to the latest data on the most popular subscription services among adults in the United States, Amazon Prime currently tops the list. Nearly two-thirds (61%) of consumers there pay for it.What can I sell in boxes? ›
- Holiday cards.
- Scrapbooking materials.
- Greeting cards.
- Journals and notebooks.
- Recipe boxes and cards.
- Personalized stationery.
Cratejoy charges 1.25% + . 10 cents. Planning to run Facebook ads or AdWords in order to generate interest? We recommend budgeting at least $15 per customer.How do I get my products into subscription boxes? ›
- Reach out to subscription box businesses that sell products in your market niche. ...
- Send some free samples to your target companies as a teaser.
- If you have a wholesale web presence, highlight the appeal of your products for subscription boxes.
Subscription boxes typically have a high profit margin, with the average box generating a gross profit between 40% and 60%. This is due to the low cost of goods and the recurring revenue model. To increase profits, focus on reducing customer acquisition costs and increasing customer lifetime value.Is starting a subscription box profitable? ›
How Much Do Subscription Boxes Make? Though it varies greatly by industry, most subscription boxes have a profit margin of 40-60%. This number can further be increased if you offer one-time purchases or multiple pricing tiers.What are the three types of subscription market? ›
There are three broad types of subscriptions: replenishment, curation, and access. Replenishment subscriptions allow consumers to automate the purchase of commodity items, such as razors or diapers.What are the main items that make a subscription business successful? ›
- They perfect their pricing strategy. ...
- They keep their buyers' needs front and center. ...
- They give their subscribers more control. ...
- They automate their RevOps. ...
- They continually improve their product. ...
- They provide great customer support.
In the irony of all ironies, Netflix is far and away the most profitable streaming service. This is the company that spent years preaching a growth story and skeptics said would run out of money.
- Beauty Products.
- Bamboo Toothbrushes.
- Women's Apparel.
- Fitness Equipment.
- Yoga Leggings.
- Old clothes. If you're looking for things to sell to make quick cash, your clothes just might top the list. ...
- Sneakers. Have some cool sneakers you want to get rid of? ...
- Jewelry. ...
- Watches. ...
- Your wedding dress. ...
- Baby items. ...
- Home décor items. ...
- Holiday decorations.
- Sell old clothes. If you have some clothing that's in decent condition, but you no longer wear it, try selling it. ...
- Make jewelry. ...
- Repurpose old phones. ...
- Make decorative coffee mugs. ...
- Make t-shirts. ...
- Sell furniture. ...
- Create planners or PDFs. ...
- Get paid to write.
— The Verdict. Cratejoy is an amazing platform for finding subscription boxes. It offers variety, searchability, and boxes in a wide price range to cater to different kinds of buyers.What is a good profit margin for a subscription box? ›
The average profit margin of a subscription-box business is 40-60%. The basis for profitability in this model is recurring payments; however, one-time payments can also be applied on top of the recurring subscription price. A great example of this would be a delivery service like HelloFresh.How do I make my subscriptions profitable? ›
Offer discounts for longer-term subscriptions.
By offering customers a variety of subscription options, and offering a discount to those who agree to pay upfront for six months or a year, you have a better chance of attracting more customers and increasing your revenue.
- Conduct some solid market research.
- Source your products.
- Choose a good platform.
- Personalize your subscription box to customers.
- Develop a pricing model that attracts new customers.
- Choose beautiful packaging that wows your customers.
- Keep your customer base hooked.
- Win new customers with special offers. Free trials and freemium offers are a great way to attract new customers. ...
- Reach your audience through email marketing. ...
- Post. ...
- Partner with influencers. ...
- Differentiate your products and brand.
- Create a subscription landing page. ...
- Default to subscription. ...
- Illustrate the value of your subscription offering. ...
- Include subscription messaging in your marketing efforts. ...
- Make your subscribe option prominent on your website.
Check out the standard Cratejoy boxes or design your own custom boxes through the Cratejoy box program! We offer high-quality boxes, fast shipping, and special prices, only for Cratejoy sellers!
The average startup cost for a subscription box business is $13,936. It's important to determine how much you'll have to invest in your new company upfront and to include this information in your business plan.How many items should be in a subscription box? ›
How many items should I include in my subscription box? This number will vary a little from month to month, but we recommend between five and 10 items. That's enough to give your customers great value for money, but not enough to overwhelm people.How do I start my own box business? ›
- Subscription Box Business Idea. ...
- Create a Prototype for Your Subscription Box. ...
- Find a Fulfillment Service for Your Subscription Box Business. ...
- Create a Budget for Your Business. ...
- Set the Right Price for Your Subscription Box. ...
- Build a Brand For Your Subscription Box Business. ...
- Build a Website for Your Subscription Box Business.
Subscription boxes are a popular way for businesses to promote new products or services. By sending customers a monthly box of goodies, businesses can get people excited about their brand and build loyalty among customers. However, subscription boxes can also be used to promote new products or services.Does Cratejoy collect sales tax? ›
How Cratejoy Handles State Sales Tax. If your business is based in the United States, you can turn on our sales tax feature through the seller dashboard to automatically calculate the necessary tax per order made in your home state. Cratejoy partners with Zip-Tax to establish U.S. tax costs for your customers.How do subscription models make money? ›
The subscription revenue model generates revenue by charging customers a recurring fee that is processed at regular intervals. Subscription revenue is built on establishing long-term relationships with customers who will pay regularly for access to the product or service, also called recurring revenue.What is the minimum subscription that a company? ›
Minimum subscription refers to the minimum number of shares that a company needs to get out of the entire issue by the date of closure. Currently, every company is required to raise 90% of the issues amount. Else, the company is required to refund the complete amount that has been received.What do people buy subscriptions? ›
- #1 Waste reduction. Subscription services allow customers to fully manage how much they use from month to month, which reduces waste. ...
- #2 Time-saving. ...
- #3 Flexibility. ...
- #4 They make excellent gifts. ...
- #5 A chance to try-before-you-buy. ...
- #6 An air of mystery. ...
- #7 Niche products. ...
- #8 Low Costs.
What is a Subscription Box? A subscription box is a monthly delivery of niche products. They're used in subscription-based eCommerce, a market that's worth around $10 billion. Each subscription box company targets a niche market—from makeup to dog toys to fresh vegetables—and customers can often customize their plan.What is a subscription pricing strategy? ›
Subscription pricing is a pricing model that allows customers to subscribe to services or purchase products for a specific amount of time on a recurring basis at a set price point — often in monthly or annual intervals.
Subscription boxes can be very lucrative—in fact, the growth of and share in the subscription market is fueled by a few curator brands. Considered a “splurge” by most standards, subscription boxes cost anywhere from $15 to $100 a month and promote the discovery of new products.Can streaming make you rich? ›
Yes, you can make a living from streaming video games. You need to establish yourself as a gamer first and build a loyal following, but once you are well-know you could be earning up to six figures every month. The typical "expert" streamer makes between $3,000 and $5,000 per month by playing 40 hours per week.What is the number 1 streaming service right now? ›
We love HBO Max so much, we awarded it the 2022 Tom's Guide Award for best streaming service.What is the most sold item on earth? ›
- Electronic accessories.
- Video games.
- Ayurvedic items.
- Personal care.
- Sports items.
- Online course.
- The best products to sell online in 2022.
- Consumer electronics and accessories.
- Baby and child care.
- Pets and animal care.
- Travel accessories.
- Jewelry and fashion accessories.
- Health and beauty.
- Smartphone accessories.
- Jewelry and watches. ...
- Video game consoles. ...
- Old phones and accessories. ...
- Purses, wallets, and backpacks. ...
- Yard equipment. ...
- Jeans, workwear, and designer clothing. ...
- Furniture. ...
- Baby gear.
- Make Money Blogging. ...
- Start An Ecommerce Business. ...
- Start A Service-Based Business. ...
- Day-Trading Stocks. ...
- Crypto Trading. ...
- Retail Arbitrage. ...
- Passive Income Rentals. ...
- Use Geo-Arbitrage.
What are high-ticket items? High-ticket items are products that have a large cost to purchase but are really valuable to the person buying. Unlike lower-priced products or services you pay for all the time, people usually buy high-ticket items infrequently (e.g. a car, an all-inclusive vacation, a house).How can I make quick cash? ›
- Sell unwanted items.
- Sell gift cards.
- Sell concert tickets.
- Ask for a raise.
- Borrow money.
- Reduce expenses.
- Take a survey.
- Get a side gig.
Subscription boxes are enjoying a surge in popularity in line with the entire subscription industry. The industry, which includes over-the-top entertainment, software-as-a-service (SaaS), and subscription boxes, is set to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2025. Growth in the industry is not limited to direct-to-consumer sales.
The global subscription box market size has grown to a value of more than USD 23.18 billion in 2021.How do I grow my subscription business? ›
- Pay attention to your competition. ...
- Update your pricing model frequently. ...
- Focus on building a relationship with your customers. ...
- Dive deep into your performance metrics. ...
- Invest in producing valuable content. ...
- Develop a referral system. ...
- Prioritize customer retention.
The subscription revenue model generates revenue by charging customers a recurring fee that is processed at regular intervals. Subscription revenue is built on establishing long-term relationships with customers who will pay regularly for access to the product or service, also called recurring revenue.What is a subscription strategy? ›
Subscription marketing refers to an ongoing marketing strategy designed to acquire new customers and retain long-term, repeat customers. Before you can dial in your subscription marketing strategy, you need to find your subscription sweet spot.How do I get customers for my subscription boxes? ›
- Offer customers a deal they can't resist.
- Engage with potential subscribers in Social media.
- Create killer content that resonates with your subscribers.
- Start a movement.
- Create affiliate programs.
- Reach out to bloggers and influencers.
- Build your own newsletter.