Subscription box businesses are on the rise, and for good reason. If you think about it, you can probably find a subscription box perfect for everyone in your life.
Love makeup? Try out Ipsy or Birchbox. Have pets? Barkbox. Watercolor? Check out Let’s Make Art. Coding for kids? Bitsbox.
There’s something for everyone, and if you’ve been thinking about how to start your own subscription box membership, this is for you.
In today’s case study we’re taking a look at subscription box membership, Ornament Girls by Staci Ann Lowry, which evolved into the 7-figure business subscription box business you see today.
The Evolution of OrnamentGirls.com
Staci Lowry, founder of OrnamentGirls.com first launched her crafting business in 2004/2005. She designed and hand-crafted individual ornaments and sold them directly to individuals.
The more ornaments Staci sold, the more questions she received about how she made them, and although there were lots of free tutorials, the finished product wasn't of the same quality Staci delivered so she started to sell her patterns and tutorials online.
As her pattern and tutorial sales started to increase over time she saw an opportunity in the marketplace to not only sell the patterns and tutorials individually but rather the full kit, complete with materials for each design.
By 2015, sales really started to take off for Staci’s ornament kits, but sales came in waves. It was either feast or famine for her business. Although she was starting to scale, her sales always spiked around the holidays (feast), but in the off months sales dropped (famine).
“I needed to have more consistency in my sales month to month.“
As a result, Staci started the Ornament Girls monthly subscription box membership on a whim.
Subscription Box Growing Pains
With the release of the kits, Staci was selling anywhere from 25-50 kits on average, per month. As kit sales began to scale she had to start hiring team members to support her with fulfillment and she had to start thinking ahead to order materials 6 months to a year in advance.
Unfortunately, the systems that once supported her, just weren’t scaling at the same rate as her business so she had to take a hard look at her tech stack and systems to find the right fit for her business.
The biggest challenge Staci faced was selling both the physical products and digital content.
“It was a logistical nightmare.”
She had a system in place for both her subscription box kits and her digital content, but unfortunately they didn’t sync or talk to one another and she would end up having members that canceled still receiving their kit in the mail, or able to access the new digital content released each month, even though their subscription had been canceled. Ouch.
Staci discovered AccessAlly in early 2017 and migrated her subscription box business setup - now AccessAlly powers the OrnamentGirls membership you see today.
AccessAlly Streamlined Everything
AccessAlly’s integration made it possible for Staci to keep her current sales process in place and used InfusedWoo to apply each new member’s tags inside Infusionsoft. Infusionsoft sends a notification to AccessAlly to update each user’s permission when the tag is applied, delivering a seamless user experience for each member.
For those just getting started, who are not currently setup with a shopping cart plugin such as WooCommerce, it’s even easier to use AccessAlly’s built-in e-commerce features. In this case: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
In addition to the fully integrated setup, Staci’s able to deliver a unique customer experience for each member through AccessAlly’s tag-based system.
The library inside Staci’s Ornament Girls membership will show each member exactly what patterns and tutorials they have access to based on their join date, and allows Staci to cross-sell offers that she has previously added if a member joins after that pattern was released.
The customer can easily access everything right inside their member’s only dashboard.
Staci is entering her 3rd year with AccessAlly, and has been thrilled with the results, but her success hasn’t come without some hard-won lessons.
Advice for Subscription Box Membership Site Owners
“If you’re considering a physical product with your digital subscription - think ahead and get your systems in place before you launch.”
If you’re building a membership or subscription box business that is designed to scale, your system needs to be able to scale with you.
In the beginning, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of onboarding new members, but if you don’t plan ahead, the logistics can fall to the wayside and you could find yourself in a position where you’re overpromising, but under delivering.
Customer retention strategies
Ensure you have retention strategies in place, to keep your members long-term.
Create and optimize an onboarding sequence that drives new members back to their dashboard so they can easily preview and access the material that they have access to.
Build a community where members can interact with each other, increasing engagement with your offers. Staci was fortunate enough to have over 100 founding members to help curate engagement and activity in her member’s only Facebook community, but also be prepared to invest time in curating that activity at the beginning.
Staci also hosts a monthly contest within her Facebook group to encourage members to submit photos of their work, and everyone votes on them. The winner is showcased on a cover graphic for the group the next month.
Another way to increase engagement within your community is through a challenge. Staci currently has a 12 weeks of Christmas challenge running where members make 1 ornament a week, and everyone posts photos of theirs when complete. This helps motivate members to finish their ornaments and show them off in the group.
Incorporate live webinars to keep engagement high. Staci hosts a live workshop each month after kits are shipped out to have members join and work on their kits together.
From the developer: “A membership site that has both an online component, as well as physical products for sale, is a complex business with a lot of moving parts.
Your watchwords should be consolidation, simplification, and efficiency.
Think about pulling everything under the umbrella of a single website, and using the same sales process (order forms and payment gateway) for everything.
The more you can automate, and the less manual steps you need to take to fulfill orders, the more time you have to focus on your core strengths and on pleasing your clients.
When Staci Ann came to us, she had several websites and shopping carts, and was running her huge subscription service entirely by email.
We were able to simplify her setup by gathering all of her offerings into a single AccessAlly website and a single payment gateway, which saved her both time and money.” - Julie Waterhouse, http://jdwaterhouse.com/
Ornament Girls by the Numbers
OrnamentGirls.com has doubled its membership each year since 2015.
In 2018, Staci hit 7-figures for the first time with her subscription box business.
Ornament Girls is made up of 500-600 digital members, and they have an even larger number of subscription box members.
If This Subscription Box Business Case Study Inspired You
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