Start a Subscription Biz: 2024 Guide

Ready to turn your business idea into a thriving, recurring revenue stream? Subscription-based businesses have exploded in popularity over the past few years, and for good reason. 

They offer a unique opportunity to build long-term relationships with customers and generate steady income month after month.

However, starting a subscription box business is not as simple as throwing a few products together and sending them out every month. It requires careful planning, strategy, and a solid understanding of your target market. 

That’s where AccessAlly comes in – a powerful plugin that can help you manage your subscribers, create engaging content, and streamline your business operations.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore how to start a successful subscription box business in 2023 using AccessAlly. 

From evaluating your business idea to choosing a payment platform and acquiring and retaining subscribers, we’ll cover everything business owners need to know to get started. 

So, let’s dive in and turn your dream of a thriving subscription business into a reality!

What is a subscription box business?

A subscription box business is a service in which a company sends a curated package of items to customers on a regular basis. 

Typically, these boxes are centered around a specific theme or product category, and the contents of the box are selected by the company. 

Customers pay a fee for the prototype box or the subscription, and the boxes are usually delivered monthly or quarterly.

Here are some examples of subscription box businesses:

  • Beauty subscription boxes: Companies like BirchBox and Ipsy send subscribers a monthly mix of full-size and sample-size beauty products, such as makeup, skincare, and hair care items, allowing customers to try out new brands without committing to full-sized versions.
  • Food subscription boxes: Services like HelloFresh send subscribers meal kits that include pre-portioned ingredients and recipes to make cooking at home easier and more convenient. Other food subscription boxes might focus on snacks, coffee, or even wine.
  • Clothing subscription boxes: Subscription box companies like Rent the Runway and Le Tote allow customers to rent designer clothing and accessories for a monthly fee, while others like Stitch Fix send customers personalized boxes of clothing based on their style preferences.

However, subscription boxes are not limited to just these types of products. 

There are many startups and small businesses that offer subscription boxes for books, crafts, pet products, and even plant enthusiasts! 

For example, Bloom & Wild sends subscribers a monthly package of fresh flowers, while Bird and Blend Tea delivers unique tea blends to tea lovers.

The appeal of subscription boxes lies in their convenience and the element of surprise they offer. 

Customers love the idea of receiving a package in the mail each month that contains items they may not have discovered on their own. 

For businesses, subscription boxes offer a way to build a loyal customer base and generate recurring revenue for uninterrupted cash flow.

Benefits of launching a subscription box business

Launching a subscription box business offers a variety of benefits that can help entrepreneurs build a successful and sustainable eCommerce business. Here are some of the key benefits to consider.

Repeat revenue

A subscription box business model helps generate recurring revenue, as customers are charged on a regular basis. 

This means that businesses can rely on a steady stream of income, rather than having to constantly focus on acquiring new customers.

Customer loyalty

By providing a consistent and personalized experience, subscription boxes can help online businesses build a loyal customer base. 

Subscribers feel invested in the brand and are more likely to continue their subscriptions and make repeat purchases.

Increased brand visibility

Subscription boxes offer a unique opportunity to build brand awareness and interact with customers on a regular basis. 

By including branded products and materials in their subscription boxes, businesses can keep their brand top-of-mind for subscribers.

Advanced data and insights 

By analyzing data such as customer feedback, order history, and subscription preferences, businesses can make more informed decisions about what products to offer and how to market them. 

For example, Dollar Shave Club uses customer data to personalize their subscription boxes and marketing campaigns, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Cost-effective marketing

It costs more to acquire new customers than it does to retain existing ones. 

Repeat customers also spend more and therefore have a higher customer lifetime value (CLTV). 

By offering a subscription box service, businesses can focus on retaining their existing customer base and increasing CLTV, rather than constantly spending on customer acquisition.

Development of a niche target audience

Subscription boxes can help businesses connect with their target audience and build a community of like-minded individuals by offering a curated selection of products tailored to a specific interest or demographic.

Enhanced flexibility

Subscription boxes can be run as a side hustle or as a full-time operation, offering flexibility in terms of time and resources. 

For entrepreneurs looking to start a new business on the side, subscription boxes can be a great option that requires minimal upfront investment and can be scaled up over time.

From generating recurring revenue to building customer loyalty and offering valuable data insights, subscription boxes provide a unique opportunity to connect with customers and grow a brand.

Subscription box business prerequisites: evaluating your business idea

When considering starting a subscription box business, it’s important to evaluate the idea thoroughly. This evaluation process involves:

Assessing your own entrepreneurial skills

Consider knowledge and expertise in the industry, ability to manage and lead a team, and your commitment to the business. 

Be aware of any gaps in your knowledge or skills that may need to be addressed before launching the business.

Conducting market research

Research the industry and identify your competitors to determine what sets your business apart and assess the needs and preferences of your target audience. 

Conduct surveys or focus groups to gather feedback on potential subscription box ideas. 

Determine if there is a market for your product or service, and whether the demand is enough to sustain your subscription box business.

Identifying your target audience

Research your potential customer base and understand their needs, preferences, and behavior. 

Define their demographic information like age, income, geography, gender, and more. 

Consider factors like lifestyle, hobbies, and interests to understand your target audience and develop a marketing strategy that effectively reaches and engages them.

When you take the time to thoroughly evaluate your idea, you’ll be better positioned to launch a successful subscription box business that meets the needs of your customers and stands out in a crowded market.

How to set up your subscription box business

Now that you have evaluated your business idea and conducted market research, it’s time to take the next steps toward making your dream a reality. 

Setting up a subscription box business can be a fun and exciting venture, but it’s important to have a plan in place to ensure success. 

This includes:

  • Developing a business plan, 
  • Creating a marketing strategy, 
  • Choosing a payment platform, and 
  • Managing subscription billing

Once you have these sorted, you’ll be well on your way to launching a successful subscription box business. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Develop a business plan

Creating a business plan is the first step toward launching a successful subscription box business. 

Your business plan should outline your business’s SMART goals, target market, products, marketing strategy, and financial plan.

Here’s how you can go about it.

  • Develop an overview of the business: Start by providing a high-level overview of your business. This should include the mission statement, company name, and a brief description of your products and services. They may change over time, but having something to start with will help get you going.
  • Add a description of the products: Describe the products you will offer in your subscription boxes, including the themes, types of items, and brands. You should also consider the frequency of delivery, shipping costs, and whether you will offer multiple subscription options at different price points.
  • Create a financial plan: Outline your projected revenue, costs, and profits over a specific time period. Consider the cost of goods sold, shipping and handling, marketing and advertising, and other overhead costs.
  • Build a marketing strategy: Detail how you plan to reach your target audience, through various marketing channels. Consider the tone and messaging of your brand, and how you will differentiate yourself from competitors.
  • Set timelines and milestones: Timelines offer a roadmap of when specific tasks will be completed, while milestones help celebrate key achievements, such as reaching a certain number of subscribers or revenue targets.
  • Work on fulfillment and product sourcing: Research the best options for fulfillment and product sourcing for your subscription boxes. You may choose to ship the boxes yourself for the first few months, but you should have a plan for when you want to hire or move to a fulfillment center.

Creating a business plan can help you refine your ideas and establish a roadmap for launching and growing your subscription box business. 

It can also provide valuable information to investors, partners, and stakeholders, which can help secure funding and support for your venture.

Step 2: Build a marketing plan

A marketing plan is a comprehensive blueprint that outlines a business’s overall marketing efforts. 

It helps in defining the target audience, setting marketing objectives, and developing a strategy to achieve those objectives. 

We’ve already covered how to identify your target audience, so let’s see how you can do the rest.

Determine the list of best marketing channels and tactics

Your marketing plan can help you identify which channels and tactics are most effective in reaching their target audience. 

For example, a business targeting younger demographics may want to focus more on social media platforms like Instagram or TikTok, while a business targeting older demographics may want to focus more on email marketing.

Create a budget for marketing activities

Allocating your marketing budget effectively can ensure that your business is investing its marketing dollars in the most effective channels and tactics. 

This can help you optimize your return on investment (ROI) and maximize your marketing efforts.

By investing time and resources into creating a comprehensive marketing plan, subscription box businesses can ensure long-term growth and success.

Step 3: Choose a subscription platform

Choosing the right subscription platform can help streamline operations, automate processes, and enhance customer experience. 

There are many eCommerce platforms available, but we recommend using a software-as-a-service option such as AccessAlly

Here are some reasons why AccessAlly is the right choice:

  • AccessAlly offers all the built-in eCommerce features you need to sell digital content that enhances the value of your subscription boxes. 
  • It also allows you to easily process recurring subscription payments, and personalize and automate the customer experience through a tag-based system.
  • The plugin comes with easy-to-use yet powerful tools that enable you to create customizable and scalable membership sites. This helps you manage your subscribers, process payments, have a higher profit margin, and provide personalized customer experiences without any hassle.
  • With AccessAlly, you can create exclusive member content and drip-feed it alongside the release of each subscription box. This not only enhances the perceived value of your subscription box but also increases customer retention.
  • The platform also offers deep integration with an efficient shipping and fulfillment provider like Shipstation, through Zapier or your CRM, so that once someone orders, their box will be sent automatically on a recurring basis.

Using a good subscription platform like AccessAlly can help you streamline operations, automate processes, enhance the customer experience, and focus on what really matters – creating great subscription boxes.

Let’s look at a case study to see how AccessAlly works in action.

Case study: How one subscription box business automated their processes using AccessAlly

AccessAlly has empowered many businesses to create and sell monthly subscriptions through its tight integration with WordPress and user-friendly features. 

Here’s an example of how Ornament Girls utilized AccessAlly’s various functionalities to chart exponential business growth.

The Problem is a crafting business that sells a monthly subscription box membership, including physical craft supplies and exclusive digital content. 

However, their system for managing the subscription boxes and digital content was not integrated, resulting in several issues. 

Some members continued to receive boxes they had canceled, and some non-members still had access to exclusive digital content.

To resolve these problems, OrnamentGirls turned to AccessAlly, an all-in-one platform designed to help entrepreneurs sell, teach, and engage their audience online. 

The idea was to have all the necessary features to manage a subscription box business in one place, including:

  • Built-in eCommerce capabilities, 
  • Recurring payments, and 
  • Personalization options.

The AccessAlly Solution

AccessAlly’s built-in integrations enabled OrnamentGirls to keep their existing sales processes. Here are some of the ways in which AccessAlly streamlined OrnamentGirls’ processes.

Syncing subscription box and digital content systems

AccessAlly helped OrnamentGirls to sync their subscription box and digital content systems. It used WooCommerce for selling the physical subscription boxes and Infusionsoft for managing customer contacts. 

The plugin integrated with Keap Max Classic (formerly Infusionsoft), updating each user’s access to content when a tag was applied, to deliver a seamless, streamlined user experience and used InfusedWoo to add tags for each new member in Infusionsoft.

Enhanced customer satisfaction

With AccessAlly, Ornament Girls could personalize and automate the customer experience through a tag-based system

Each user received customized access to digital content and subscription boxes, based on their tags, reducing the likelihood of errors and improving customer satisfaction.

Built-in eCommerce and analytics features

AccessAlly’s built-in eCommerce features made it easy for Ornament Girls to sell their subscription boxes and manage digital content access in one place. 

This reduced the number of systems and tools that the company needed to use, reducing confusion and streamlining their workflow.

The company also used AccessAlly’s analytics tools to gain insights into subscriber behavior, which helped them to refine their marketing and product strategies.

The AccessAlly impact

The impact of AccessAlly’s contribution was significant. Some of the successful improvements included:

  • OrnamentGirls saw a reduction in customer service queries relating to subscription box and digital content access issues, 
  • Subscribers reported higher satisfaction with their experience. 
  • AccessAlly enabled OrnamentGirls to scale their subscription box business, manage their systems in one place, and deliver a seamless, personalized experience to their subscribers.

OrnamentGirls’s experience shows that AccessAlly can be an excellent option for entrepreneurs looking to set up their own subscription box business. 

The plugin’s contribution to OrnamentGirls’s success is a testament to the platform’s power and versatility.

If you are looking to write your own success story, here’s how you can do it with AccessAlly.

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How to set up your membership site with AccessAlly

Now that you know how AccessAlly can make a difference to your bottom line in the real world, it’s time to build your own subscription box site. 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to building a membership site with AccessAlly:

Step 1: Install and activate AccessAlly

To start, you’ll need to install the AccessAlly plugin on your WordPress site, after you purchase the plugin. 

You can do this by navigating to your WordPress dashboard, then clicking on “Plugins” -> “Add New”. 

Upload the zip file for “AccessAlly” and hit the upload button. Once it’s installed, click “Activate” to activate the plugin.

AccessAlly landing page.

Step 2: Set up your membership offering

Once AccessAlly is installed and activated, navigate to the “AccessAlly” tab in your WordPress dashboard. Click on “Offerings”. 

Select ‘Create’ and then click “Use Template” under the “Membership Program” option.

Choose the membership template in AccessAlly.

In the text box, write the name of your offering (e.g., “Subscription Box”).

Name your new membership programme in AccessAlly.

Step 3: Choose payment settings

Next, you’ll need to choose your payment settings. If you’re offering a monthly subscription box, you’ll likely want to choose “Monthly Payments”.

Configure your membership price settings in AccessAlly.

You’ll also need to set the recurring payment amount. You can also select whether to set a trial period and price if you want to offer a discounted price for new signups.

Step 4: Add your content

Once you’ve set up your payment settings, click “I’m ready to add my content”. Click the “Add” button in the top right corner and select the type of content you want to add. 

For example, you might choose “New Module” if you want to add a new module for each subscription box.

Add subscription content in AccessAlly.

Step 5: Set up content release

After you’ve added your content, you’ll need to set up content release. 

This will ensure that your content is released when you send out your corresponding subscription boxes. 

Click on the module release settings and add a delay so your content is released at the appropriate time.

Configure your AccessAlly module release settings.

Step 6: Save and publish

Finally, hit “Save” to save your changes. Be sure to also hit “Publish” on your main membership landing page so that all of the sub-pages start to work.

And that’s it! With these simple steps, you can set up your membership program with AccessAlly and start delivering value to your subscribers.

Bonus section: Growing your subscription box business

There are three ways to grow your subscription box business – get new customers, retain existing ones, and increase your revenue sources.

Let’s look at each strategy in more detail.

Strategies for subscriber acquisition 

The more subscribers you have, the more revenue you can generate, and the more successful your business will be. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Create valuable content that provides value to your target audience to establish your brand as a thought leader and attract potential subscribers.
  • Run promotional campaigns to acquire new subscribers. Consider running a special offer, such as a discount or free gift, for new subscribers. You could also run a referral or affiliate program that rewards existing subscribers for referring new customers.
  • Leverage influencers who have a following that overlaps with your target audience and partner with them to promote your subscription box. This can include sponsored social media posts, blog reviews, or unboxing videos.

In addition, you can use data to understand your audience, attract new subscribers, reduce acquisition costs and increase your revenue.

Strategies for retaining subscribers

In the world of subscription eCommerce businesses, retaining existing subscribers is just as important as acquiring new ones. 

According to a report by Bain & Company, a mere 5% increase in consumer retention can increase company revenue by 25%-95%.

Here are some strategies to help retain your customers in the subscription box market:

  • Ensure that your subscription boxes continue to be of high quality and meet the expectations of your subscribers. You can also provide value by offering access to discounts, exclusive offers, or early pre-launch access to new source products.
  • Develop a customer service team that is responsive and helpful. Address any concerns or complaints quickly and make sure your subscribers feel valued.
  • Collect data on your subscribers’ behavior and preferences, and use that information to develop retention strategies.

Keeping your current subscribers happy not only ensures a steady stream of revenue but also helps build a loyal customer base that can provide valuable feedback and even become brand ambassadors.

Strategies for increasing revenue

When it comes to running a successful subscription box business, increasing revenue is a top priority. 

Fortunately, there are several strategies that can help you boost your income and grow your existing business. Here are some of these:

  • Offer premium features, like early access to new products or exclusive content, which customers can get for an extra cost.
  • Upsell additional products or services at the point of purchase to increase revenue while providing added value to your customers.

It’s also important to remember the value of providing excellent customer service and retaining existing customers, as these are essential for the long-term success of your subscription business.

Start your subscription service with AccessAlly

Starting a subscription box business can be an incredibly rewarding venture for entrepreneurs looking to build a loyal customer base and a steady stream of revenue. 

However, it’s essential to evaluate your business idea and develop a clear strategy before getting started. 

Remember, success comes from delivering value, retaining subscribers, and increasing revenue.

AccessAlly can empower you to provide your subscribers with an exceptional experience while simplifying your business operations.

It’s an all-in-one membership management plugin that offers powerful features like conversion-focused order forms, recurring payments, affiliate tracking, and abandoned cart follow-up.

With its built-in eCommerce features and integrations with popular tools like WooCommerce and Infusionsoft, AccessAlly makes it easy to manage your subscription business in one place.

So, if you’re ready to take your subscription box business to the next level, try out AccessAlly’s membership management plugin today. 

With our comprehensive documentation and top-notch customer support, you’ll be up and running in no time. 

Start your subscription box journey with AccessAlly today!

Nathalie Lussier

I’m a writer, technologist, and regenerative farmer. I founded AccessAlly with my husband in one frantic weekend to solve my immediate course platform issues. Over a decade later the company has grown, and our product has evolved to serve millions of learners across the globe.

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