How to Start a Subscription Box


Let’s get into the nitty gritty - and look at exactly what you need to do to set up a subscription box.

If you're looking to pivot or add a subscription box to your existing product business, you might also find this post useful: Subscription Box Ideas for Product Businesses

Step 1. Get inside your customer’s head

You might have already done some thinking around your ideal customer and what they want - but it’s worth doing this again, specifically for your subscription offer.

Get clear on the basics - who she / he is and their desires as they relate your business.

Then think specifically about the appeal of subscription boxes. It’s generally:

  • Curation (Excitement / discovery / the new)
  • Ease (Something they want to consume or use regularly)
  • Gifting (A beautiful, exciting gift for someone they love)

...or a mixture of the above.

Step 2. Know your numbers

If you’re already in business, you should have a fair idea of what your existing products, packaging & delivery, marketing and overheads cost - or know how to find that out.

With a subscription box, you’re generally looking at costs for:

  • The box itself
  • Packaging
  • Pack & postage
  • Processing fees
  • Printed materials
  • And the products you’ll include

These will give you a steer on how your numbers are looking and your budget for each box.


Step 3. The Theatre of Unboxing

Now we get into the fun work!

One of the key differences between ordering from a shop online and ordering a subscription box is that little frisson of theatre as your customer opens her box and discovers what’s inside.

How do you make that a beautiful experience, with a little bit of magic?

There’s various opportunities to delight here, from your choice of packaging, to print materials, to the actual products, to little extras.

This is also time to think about who your suppliers will be, if you’ll bring in any elements beyond your existing product range.

Step 4. Look at your Whole Customer Journey

Again, if you have an existing product business you may have some of this in place, but it’s time to think of your subscriber’s customer journey.

From when they first come across your subscription box…
To your website…
To their experience of buying…
To your communication through the purchase process…
To confirming their box is on its way...
To follow up afterwards…
and ongoing communication...

How do you make your subscribers feel appreciated and cared for?

Step 5. Set up your Tech

If this is the step you’re worried about, don’t be!

If you have an existing online shop (such as Square Space or WooCommerce), most online platforms allow you to add a recurring payment option, so you can have your standard products and subscriptions in one place.

Of course, you might want to separate them out too.

There are also stand-alone recurring payment processor options specifically geared to subscription box or membership businesses.

Some options are more expensive than others, but it will come down to ease, the costs involved, and your long-term vision for your subscription business. 


Step 6. Packing & Delivery

Early days, you may decide to pack in your existing workplace and use your existing postal method to dispatch.

But as your business grows, you could also look at using a fulfilment centre to handle your subscription box. It will save you time / additional staffing, and won't overwhelm your current space!

Step 7. Levers to growth

We’ve talked about the practicalities of creating a subscription box, but I couldn’t leave without mentioning the levers for growth.

In any business, the levers for growth are there - but they’re particularly relevant for subscription boxes…

  • How potential customers find you
  • How many of those people convert to buying and becoming customers
  • How much they spend with you
  • How often they return to buy from you
  • And how they help spread the word, to add more potential customers to your audience

There’s a number of ways you can maximise each element as you delight your customers.

This is a whistle-stop tour of the key areas - and happens to be exactly what we teach inside Subscription Box Academy! If you'd love go deeper into making these work, you can learn more about Subscription Box Academy here.

All my best,