There’s no substitute for convenience. In the post-pandemic world, consumers are more eager than ever to have their favorite products delivered to their doorsteps. A subscription box business is one of the ideal ways to capitalize on this shift.
Some Americans are now signed up for 10 or more subscriptions, says The Washington Post, while budgeting app Truebill reports an average of 21 subscriptions per user.
From wine clubs to clothing boxes, groceries to workout packages, consumers are flocking to ship-to-home offerings. Altogether, the subscription box market is worth an estimated $12–$15 billion.
If you’re thinking about wading into the subscription business yourself, now may be the perfect time. This article will cover 15 types of subscription boxes you can consider selling.
Why subscription boxes?
Retention and CLV
Subscription boxes are an excellent way to improve your customer retention and extend customer lifetime value by offering buyers a hassle-free experience they can set up and forget.
Items will arrive every month, or at whatever cadence you choose. This prevents buyers from going to your competitors out of convenience, or forgetting about your brand.
Introduce new products to your loyal fans
Your subscription box buyers are likely some of your most loyal customers. Why not reward them with surprise freebies in every box? It’s a nice way to say thank you to your fans, while also introducing new items they might like to purchase (increasing your average order volume as well).
Some subscription boxes are designed to include new items with each delivery, which is another great way to introduce and test out new products.
Deliver an experience
Subscription boxes are designed to delight your customers. You can plan ahead to ensure on-time deliveries every time. You can include surprise gifts, information about deals and coupons, and offer discounts in exchange for feedback.
Starting a subscription box means creating an experience for your best buyers. All of this leads to higher retention rates, greater customer loyalty, and a boost in brand recognition.
15 Subscription box businesses to look into today
1. Snack subscription box
In the last year, specially themed boxes like Bokksu — a Japanese snack, candies, and tea box — have boomed. Even big-box brands like Pepsi recently launched their own snack subscriptions, offering a variety of bundles and/or monthly themes to keep things spicy.
If you’re looking to offer a snack box, pick a niche. Decide whether to curate snacks for kids, adults, or offices. Or, tailor your snack items to people with a hankering for spicy snacks, chocolate, healthy snacks, or some other category.
2. Coffee subscription box
The coffee category is dominated by big players like Starbucks and Peets, which offer coffee straight from the roastery. For this reason, it may only make sense for you to sell a coffee subscription if you own your own roastery or have a relationship with a coffee shop.
3. Tea subscription box
There are endless varieties of tea, making this a popular subscription box option. You send subscribers tea from around the world, that match personal palettes, or that are focused on particular needs (providing energy, inducing sleep, etc.).
4. Art subscription box
Offer an art box that restocks supplies for professional artists, or sell project-based subscriptions for adults and/or kids who are looking to pass the time. Art subscription boxes can be segmented by project type (portraits, abstract, scenery), age range, or art utensil (pencil, watercolor, acrylic paint).
5. Craft subscription box
Like art, crafting is a shared hobby among kids and adults. Some of the most popular subscriptions today include knitting, jewelry making, embroidery, and stationary.
6. Dog (or cat) subscription box
PetSmart, PETCO — and now Amazon with its white-labeled pet food — rake in a majority of pet-related eCommerce sales. They have the luxury of lower margins and higher sales, but you can differentiate yourself by offering specialty pet treats, gear for puppies or kittens (versus full-grown pets), and more.
7. Kids subscription box
Kids subscription boxes are a godsend for busy parents. There are many paths you can take with this: boxes for certain age groups, interests, skill sets, needs (like clothes or school supplies), and more. Today, popular services like KiwiCo aim to blend education with fun.
8. Baby products subscription box
This is great for the sleep-deprived mom who doesn’t have time to leave the house for baby supplies. Baby product subscription boxes can include diapers, baby formula, toys, clothes, and more. Your box could even adjust to every month a baby grows bigger, more alert, and more mobile.
9. Book subscription box
Do you want to curate books for adults or kids? Sci-fi or nonfiction? Award-winning authors or up-and-coming ones? Whichever way you go, a book subscription can garner significant customer loyalty. Some of the most popular boxes today offer a book of the month, paired with book-related activities and collectibles.
10. Wine, beer, or cocktail subscription box
There are many rules, alcohol licenses, and shipping requirements to be aware of, so businesses that already sell alcohol are in the best position to offer this type of subscription. Wine, beer, or cocktail boxes can be great for gaining recurring business from regular wine drinkers, or for hosting events like office cocktail parties.
11. Food subscription box
Food boxes are now the second-largest subscription category behind beauty, and attract 150 million website visits per year, according to Exploding Topics. These boxes can include ready-made foods, meal kits, and/or baking recipes.
Note: it’s a highly saturated space with multiple players on the field (think Blue Apron). Proceed with caution and focus on easy-to-transport, highly specialized kits.
12. Plant subscription box
Fresh flower deliveries house plants, gardening supplies and seeds — a plant subscription box can be a delightful surprise for plant lovers everywhere.
13. Makeup subscription box
While highly competitive, cosmetics are a booming industry with enough market share to go around. As with many of the suggestions above, the key here is to “niche down.” Know the exact type of buyer you’re trying to target, be it teens, working women, people with sensitive skin, etc.
14. Cleaning supplies subscription box
The pandemic underscored the importance of a clean space, and that isn’t likely to fade any time soon. Both home and office owners may jump at the chance to buy a subscription that offers safe, popular cleaning supplies.
15. Office supplies subscription box
As businesses are reopening, they’re going to need to restock on all their regular items like computer ink, pens, and paper — things you could easily supply on a monthly basis.
Wrapping up — Subscription boxes are booming for DTC eCommerce
Subscription boxes improve retention, boost customer lifetime value and average order value, and deliver an experience your buyers eagerly anticipate. Start a subscription box business today that caters to your target audience and makes their lives easier and more enjoyable.