From the last post, you already know that I’m starting a subscription box business. I love the business model because of a number of reasons, including:
i) Relatively easy to do. I mean, you simply need to find the products for your market, pack and ship them. Who can’t do that?
ii) Easy to Scale. If you choose the right market, it can be easy to scale the business from a few boxes a month to thousands of shipments.
iii) Less upfront cash. Since buyers are ordering the items first, you don’t have to spend your money to buy inventory. Simply wait for buyers to order and use their money to purchase the items.
NB: This may not however apply in all situations.
iv) Variety of Marketing options. The sub box business is one online venture that does not require SEO to be successful. To market a sub box business, you will simply need to find communities where your target market hang out.
Let’s be honest; SEO can take a long time to get results. But by reaching directly to the communities where your market is hanging out, you can make sales without having to wait for months for your website to rank.
With these in mind, I have jumped into the sub box business. To begin, I have already registered a domain name and at the moment, I am developing the website. I will be using WordPress for my site since I’m most familiar with it and it can handle ecommerce well.
You however do not need to use WordPress. I have seen sub box sites hosted on Shopify, Magneto, made from ASP.NET and other platforms. Simply go for what you feel will be right for you.
I highly recommend WordPress is you have experience with it. If you don’t know anything about site development but want to get your hands dirty, a solution like Shopify would be great.
Inspiration for the Sub Box Business
I was a freelance writer for an ecommerce payment gateway startup when I was first exposed to the subscription business model. I wrote articles on SaaS (Software as a Service) and along the way, wrote about sub box businesses like Birchbox.
At the back of my mind, I wanted to own one of these babies. I mean, the allure or recurring revenue; who would pass that opportunity?
Now, here I am launching my sub box business. But where did I get the nudge or elbow push to get into the business? The answer: Reddit.
I was lurking around Reddit when I came across this post:
I urge you to spare some time to read the article. But in a nutshell, a couple of guys bought an ecommerce store for $4k, rebranded it, changed it to a sub box business and in 6 months, made over $100K with it. Daamn. Don’t you wish you were them?
PS: If you are loving the sub box thing, I encourage you to join this FB group and meet like minded entrepreneurs. The group is managed by the two guys who are subject of the above Reddit link. Here’s the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/groovelearning/
Moving on, I also came across these posts, still on Reddit:
So, this next entrepreneur was well into getting $50k in revenue in just six months. This business involves shipping items in a box, but is not a subscription business. Rather, it’s a one off purchase business.
In case you are interested, her website is baltimoreinabox.com and what she does is simple. She gets items that are unique to Baltimore and ships them to people from Baltimore who may be in other states or out of the US.
Basically, she ships the items that people from Baltimore love to Baltimoreans (if there is any word like that) around the world.
So, those are the two types of box businesses I am looking at:
i) One is a sub box…people subscribe to get items/products they love.
ii) The other is a one-time box purchase. People buy one time (and hopefully some more) a box of items the love from their city.
My Subscription Box Model
Living in an African country is mostly disadvantageous, in nearly all areas, even online opportunities. African have to put up 7 times the hustle that other people have to put in online business.
(Don’t ask me for the data to back that assumption up).
But the point is that if you live in Africa, and sometimes Asia, your opportunities are mostly limited compared to those who live in Europe, AU, CA and US.
For instance, did you know Amazon does not ship to any African country apart from South Africa? Being that I’m from Kenya, if I want to buy an item from Amazon, I have to use third parties to get the items delivered.
The third parties, of course, charge you an unbearable commission. But I have no option but to ship with them because either:
i) The products I want from Amazon are not available in Kenya
ii) If the products are available, they are way more expensive than I can get them from the third party, even after paying the commission charges.
Now, you may be wondering which box business model I will b going for. Here is the answer; a hybrid box model.
What I mean is that I will incorporate both a subscription model and one-time purchase model.
As you may have guessed, my target market will be Kenyans in diaspora. They are a huge number, estimated to be over 3 million. What I will be doing is offering a mix of subscription boxes and one-time purchase boxes.
I have chosen to target Kenyans in diaspora because I can easily source the products that they miss from Kenya.
In the next article, I will be revealing my site domain name and how I am progressing.