Helpful Information

5 New Ideas for Selling More Subscription Boxes

Once you have established your subscription box company, finding ways to keep new sales coming in can be challenging.  Consistent growth in sales, however, is a necessity to the future of your company. There are several things you can do to keep the selling momentum going, even as new subscription box companies enter the market daily.

Expand Your Social Media Content

You probably have a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram page, but are you using them to the full potential?  If you are posting just to put something up there, you are not making the most of social media.  This is a platform for you to bring value to your target audience.  Make sure your content speaks to your followers, and you will be seen as the authority in your market.     Tip:  Spend some time interacting with your followers and share/re-post any of them using your products, as this is how you further grow your brand awareness.

Get to Know the Influencers

Every industry has their own group of influencers that have a network of followers that most likely far exceeds your following.   Reaching out to these influencers to get an endorsement on their social media page could amp your brand awareness triple-fold.   In order to get an endorsement, you send them a free box to have them sample it, and then post about it.   If you aren’t sure who the influencers are in your industry, research them using sites such as followerwonk.

Blog

Don’t have a blog yet?  Set one up, as soon as possible.  This is one avenue to further offer your customers valuable information.  A blog that speaks to your target market will retain and gain new customers; sharing it across your social media channels gives you great content.  It is also an effective way to increase your SEO if done correctly.   If you are not great at writing, hire someone who is.  Or, see if there is a potential partnership with a guest blogger, which is another great way to expand your brand’s reach to a whole new set of followers.

Coupon Codes

Consumers love to save money and a coupon code alone is enough incentive for some to make a purchase.    For those who may be new to subscription boxes or new to you as a customer, this is a way to get them to jump off the fence and buy!   Create a few coupon codes and test in different arenas so you can find what will work best in terms of initial purchase and then retention.  Sharing a coupon on sites such as RetailMeNot, and another on your social media channels will give you a good A/B split test to start.

Video Content

The goal of video content is to get it to go viral, thus increasing your brand awareness.  In order to do this, ensure that the video content is consistent with your brand.  Add a little humor or interesting facts to make the video engaging to your audience.  You may not feel comfortable doing this yourself, but there are plenty of people who specialize in it.

 

Increased marketing efforts such as these will lead to increased sales.  If your company needs help managing your subscription box company growth, please visit our website today at: Kable.com.

3 Signs It’s Time to Outsource Fulfillment for Your Subscription Box

Running a subscription box company comes with a lot of important decisions.

conveyor belt with cartons  for use in presentations, manuals, design, etc.

Figuring out your market and how to grow it are two obvious ones.

Another decision that is every bit as important, but less black and white, is knowing when you should consider outsourcing order fulfillment. As subscription box businesses grow fulfillment and shipping are areas with a direct impact on customer experience and operating margins – yet there are no hard rules on when outsourcing makes sense. The good (or bad) news is there will be signs. You just need to know what to look for.

Poor Inventory Planning:

The cost of the goods in your box are likely your biggest expense. This means you need to be very adept with your sourcing strategy, including inventory planning.

A professional warehouse will help you be better at tracking inventory, including inbound receiving, inspection, and counts. They’ll help ensure you have the products in-house each month so your box ships on time.

Shipping Late:

Of course, poor inventory management is not the only reason boxes may ship late. The order fulfillment process takes a lot of time. This is what fulfillment companies like Kable are experts at – being efficient with pick and pack.

They can provide a scalable source of skilled labor to accommodate any volume of shipments, and do so with accuracy and speed. At a point, packing boxes isn’t scalable for most subscription box companies to keep up with on their own. Outsourcing helps keep orders shipping on time and at the lowest fulfillment cost possible.

High Shipping Costs:

Shipping costs are largely a function of volume – so the more shipping volume you have the better shipping rates you will get from carriers. Growing subscription box companies can usually benefit from the rates offered by a larger fulfillment warehouse.

In many cases, the shipping savings will offset much or all of the costs they are paying for fulfillment services. This makes the decision an easy one.

Growth is a great thing for a subscription box company. But, it also forces the company to make a lot of tough decisions – like when and how to outsource their order fulfillment. If any of these 3 problems seems familiar the time may be right for you.

5 Quick Tips for How Subscription Box Companies Can Save on Packaging

It’s not surprising to say that packing materials are necessary to keep items from getting damaged when shipping – but they need to look good to. Unfortunately, they can quickly become a big expense for a subscription box company. Here are five ways that you can cut down the cost of packing materials without risking damage or the quality of your customer’s “un-boxing” experience. carton

  1. Buy in Bulk

Once you decide on the box sizes and types of packing materials you will need, purchase them in bulk to save money.  A simple search on the internet will show where you can purchase the items for the best price.  Amazon, ebay, and Walmart all offer shipping materials at reasonable prices.  If a certain item will require a different sized box, plan for that ahead of time so you can have it on hand when it comes time to ship that month.

  1. Use the Correct Size Box

It’s impossible to stress the importance of using a box that is the right size for your items enough.  Shipping in a box that is larger than necessary contributes to a much higher shipping charge, as well as extra packing material.  Reducing the box size by just an inch can make a difference in shipping costs, and if it can fit in the mailbox, even better!

  1. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

Items such as boxes, bubble wrap, peanuts, plastic air bags, and envelopes can all be reused.  Just make sure the items are in very good condition and clean before using them again. Many “new” packaging materials are made from recycled materials as well. Using these types of products can have a great appeal to many potential customers.

  1. Free Shipping Supplies

If you are able to, take advantage of free shipping supplies from your carrier.  USPS, FedEx and UPS all offer some items for free.  For example, the USPS offers free flat rate boxes and free mailing tubes for Priority Mail.  If you find items that are suitable for your shipping needs, you’ll maybe even save enough to offset slightly higher shipping costs.

  1. Search for Sales

Sometimes, retailers run sales or promotions on certain shipping supplies.  Office Max and Office Depot offer coupons if you register on their website or at their stores.  These coupons can be used for tape guns, boxing tape, and tape guns.

 

With just a little effort, subscription box companies have many options for cutting down on the expensive packaging materials.

Starting a Subscription Box? Here’s 3 Ways to Save on Shipping

Shipping is a big expense for every subscription box company and is especially important to think about as you are first starting out.

USPSHowever, even established subscription box companies can benefit from evaluating their own shipping patterns and requirements on a regular basis. It’s a key exercise for any online retailer to prevent overspending on small parcel shipping.

Do the Research

There are several carriers available to help ship your customer orders, which gives you some leverage when negotiating rates.  Don’t assume any one is your only choice – there are many parcel consolidators and parcel delivery services that can complete with the USPS and other large carriers. Any established online business should discuss their shipping history with their current carrier to get better rates, or can use that data to negotiate with a new carrier.  Plus, the more knowledge you have about your own shipping patterns the better pricing carriers can offer.

Keep in mind that it may be cost-effective to use two different carriers if you are shipping packages that differ in size or weight, or to several areas of the country.  Knowing your company’s needs and considering all the options is the only way to get the best shipping rates.

Save on Packaging

Packaging for shipments can also be a large expense, particularly for smaller companies.  One way to reduce costs is to buy boxes and packing materials in bulk.  When possible, recycle boxes and packing material.  Not only are you helping the environment, but also your bottom line.

Also, make sure the box size is the correct size for your items.  Shipping in boxes that are too large can mean you are paying for extra shipping weight unnecessarily. Packaging that is too large, or too small, can also lead to expensive damages and returns. And unhappy customers.

Shipping Insurance

Depending on the value of your subscription box, it may not be worth paying extra to insure it.  If your carrier offers reliable service with few damaged or lost items, paying for the occasional damaged package might far outweigh insuring every box. Investigating your rate of returned packages can help you figure out if it is worth this extra expense.

Shipping can account for 10% or more of the operating expenses for a subscription box company. Making educated choices for how you manage shipping can often be the difference between a profit or losing money for your subscription box company.

Inventory Management Must-Do’s for Every Subscription Box Company

Aside from the obvious expense of purchasing inventory in the first place, failing to properly manage it can lead to shortages for customers, costly overages for product that sits unsold, and consume capital resources. warehouse Proper inventory management ensures your subscription box company is operating efficiently, while continuing to meet customer demand.

Here are 3 ways to keep your inventory management process working.

Conduct a Physical Inventory Count

In order to correctly assess inventory, you have to know what you have. This seems obvious, but accuracy with inventory is no simple thing for companies of any size. Take into account not only finished goods, but raw materials and works in progress.  Physical inventory counts should be compared against data records to see what discrepancies exist and how the process can be improved. For subscription companies that outsource fulfillment and warehousing, your provider should be performing regular cycle counts to insure inventory levels are accurate. It’s important their inventory counts and yours are reconciled regularly.

Forecasting

Optimal inventory levels means having enough of an item to fulfill a month’s worth of subscription boxes without being overstocked.  Inventory for subscription box companies is unique in that products are not typically forecasted by demand, but by number of box subscriptions sold. This means the growth and sales trends with your own business must be considered precisely each month – and not seasonally or annually as with other types of retail businesses.

Systems and Data Maintenance

For growing, larger, or more complex subscription box companies, inventory management can require a core team with the ability and tools to evaluate, analyze, and order product. It starts with a process and system that provides timely access to inventory data. At some point, a dedicated inventory control specialist may be required to oversee inventory operations. Implementing inventory management software, in the form of a WMS or ERP, is another way growing companies stay on top of the challenges that come with controlling inventory.

Getting good at inventory management is not the reason you started a subscription box company, but it can be the one thing that determines the success or failure of it. Implementing these ideas will help to ensure effective inventory management so you always have the correct amount of each item on hand and your customers stay happy.

What to Consider When Creating Packaging for Your Subscription Box

Part of the allure of receiving a subscription box is the packaging.   Great looking packaging drives your brand’s image, as well as increases the chances that the subscriber will be happy with their subscription, and continue to subscribe.

1.       Design

The design and style of your packaging should fit the theme of your subscription box.  For example, if your target audience is young women, make sure you pick colors, style, and lettering that will appeal to them.  After all, the packaging is the first impression the customer has of your box. carton-emballage

2.       Quantity

As a start-up, you probably will not have the money to invest in custom packaging right away, but once you have at least 300 subscribers per month (and some history on products being shipped), you can begin to research your options.  Most packaging companies require a minimum of 1,000 boxes for a custom-printed mailer, which is a large outlay of money.

3.       Size

Make sure you choose the right size box.  Resist choosing the larger size box, not only to save on shipping costs, but because subscribers will not be happy with a half-filled box.  This is where product history comes in handy.

4.       Sourcing

When deciding on a manufacturer, you should consider their location, fulfillment options, turnaround time, and of course, price.   When comparing manufacturers, have your box size and order quantity on hand so you can get the most accurate price quote.

5.       Cost

The price of your custom box is going to be based on the type of printing, box quality, and ink quality you choose.   Decide where you want to spend your budget and where you are willing to cut costs, especially in the beginning.  This will give you negotiating points when discussing price with your manufacturer and can help you get the best deal on your custom packaging.

Once you have placed a few orders, and are satisfied with your custom packaging, you can negotiate better rates on volume with your manufacturer.

How to Communicate Your Expected Ship Date

Make your expected ship date clear and improve customer experience, retention & expectations.

Re-published with permission from www.subscriptionschool.com.

Shipping

Great customer experiences thrive on a pretty simple principle: make it easy for shoppers to quickly get what they wantAnd modern shopping has gone far to provide that. It’s easy to pull out your device, search for what you want, and make your purchase.

Naturally, as shoppers we expect the fulfillment of those products to be just as great: fast shipping on our orders that we can easily track.

Subscription boxes for the most part, though, don’t always follow the fulfillment side of this model, and it starts with a lack of standards.

In most cases, subscription business owners choose the specifics around shipping and renewal dates based on their schedules and what works best for their business. While ecommerce stores compete with each other by offering fast, free or same-day shipping, subscription boxes get away with having widely different shipping policies, even while serving the same niche. Two boxes that send the same products can ship at different times of the month entirely.

Communication around shipping also tends to be less emphasized with subscription boxes, perhaps because of this.

For example, it’s not uncommon for subscription box companies to only share this information on the FAQ page, buried under cancellation policies and “What’s in the box?” type questions.

Ultimately, this can lead to confusion and missed expectations for shoppers.

But by managing expectations and removing ambiguity around when subscribers will receive their shipment, you can improve the experience while reducing confusion and frustration felt by your customers. That means returning to the great customer experience we expect with our normal online shopping.

This starts with great communication. Because of the natural flexibility with subscription boxes, we suggest focusing on your communications around “expected ship date” — the date you expect to ship your boxes.

How to Communicate Your Expected Ship Date

Communicating your expected ship date doesn’t take a lot of work. Here are four ideas & places to communicate this critical information to subscribers:

Explain it in Your FAQs

If nowhere else, your expected ship date ought to be in your FAQs.

The FAQ section is a hallmark of ecommerce stores, and that includes subscription boxes. You can organize your FAQs however you like (I suggest setting up a styled Help Center via Zendesk), but when crafting your answers, try to add the expected ship date everywhere it makes sense.

Prospurly’s FAQs actually features it 4 times, including in the first 2 questions, as well as an additional statement for overseas shipping and expected ship times for those customers (+7 days).

Prospurly Example FAQ

Add it to Your Welcome Email

The “Welcome” email is likely your email with the highest engagement you’ll ever send.

Seriously!

Welcome emails are emails that send immediately after a subscriber joins your subscription. We’ve talked a bit about welcome emails in the past.

To give you a sense of what that engagement looks like, here’s my Mailchimp report on all welcome emails since the beginning of business:

Welcome Email Engagement

75.2% open! That’s 3 of every 4 subscribers opening up a single, automated message that I can include critical information in.

Information like your expected ship date.

In my welcome email, I spell out expected shipping dates in two places: 1) a bolded month-specific ship date (for example, we’re shipping a bit early in December) and 2) in a condensed FAQ list in the email.

Welcome Email Example

This helps ensure that subscribers know — immediately — when their box will ship. This helps reduce questions about it from the onset, and by including a CTA to buy old boxes or contact us about dates, we can immediately provide solutions to shoppers who might have thought the box shipped sooner.

Add it At Checkout

If you want to get it in front people before their welcome email, a great place to look is your checkout flow.

For me, this is pretty simple. I don’t offer variations, surveys, or dietary options on boxes. This means when people hit subscribe, they choose their size “Petite” and “Full Size”. The shipping date is shown right above that:

Choose Your Box Screen

Checkout flows might be different for you, but where possible, try to spotlight the date your box would ship.

Add it to Your Cratejoy Tool Tip

Another nice place to add this information is at the final checkout page, inside the Cratejoy tool tip.

The tool tip is a small question mark shown above the billing details. When you hover over it with your mouse, it shows your subscription and cancellation policy:

Tool tip Option

You can totally customize this tool tip.

To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Login to your Cratejoy portal at my.cratejoy.com
  2. Click Setting
  3. Click Checkout
  4. Under checkout, edit your “Billing Disclaimer”. Add your shipping statement where it makes the most sense!

Expected Ship Date on the Cratejoy Marketplace

Adding expected ship date doesn’t need to stop at your storefront, either.

If you’re taking advantage of the Cratejoy Marketplace, you can use the Expected Ship Date section in your listing to make shipping dates clear to subscribers.

To add this, follow these steps:

  1. Login to your Cratejoy portal at my.cratejoy.com
  2. Click Marketplace
  3. Scroll down to “Let your shoppers know when their box will ship”
  4. Add a simple, straightforward statement to be shown on your list, like “We ship on the 20th every month”

Ship Date Tool Marketplace

Note: the expected ship date tool is limited to 350 characters, but really, it probably doesn’t need to be that long 😉

This message will appear in two places:

First, it will be shown under subscribers Marketplace Subscription cards, under Active Subscriptions and “Shipping Policy”:

shipping-policy

It will also be shown on the confirmation page after checkout has been completed:

confirmation-page

Start Promoting Your Estimated Shipping Date

Implementing each of these steps takes a short time — you can probably knock them all out in one afternoon! And the benefit you get from that is huge. Not only will subscribers have clearer expectations, but you’ll get in front of questions and help subscribers have an all around better experience.

Questions or comments? Leave them below!

Do You Have a Productive Pick and Pack Process?

Picking is the process of pulling inventory from one or more locations to be included in an order, and packing is the gathering of these items to be placed in packageswarehouse to be shipped to the customer.  An efficient pick and pack process means your company is operating optimally, while satisfying customer expectations.  To make sure your company’s shipping process is efficient, make sure you are doing the following:

Inventory Counts

A productive pick and pack process starts with a correct inventory count for each and every product.  Since miscounts result in oversells and understocking, it is important to start with an accurate inventory amount.  An automated counting system like a barcode scanner or RFID sensors will keep track of your items.

Layout

Being able to find items to pick is important to operating an efficient warehouse.  High-selling items should be placed closest to the packing stations since they will be picked most often.  This increases productivity by cutting down on the time it takes for an employee to pick an order and process it.  If you have items that are purchased together, put them near each other for greater efficiencies.

Organized Areas

Your pick areas should be neatly organized so warehouse workers do not waste time searching for items.  Warehouse shelves should have bins that are easily accessible and are transparent.   At the packing stations, packers should have all supplies necessary to pack efficiently.  Have several box sizes that fit your products size and weights correctly to eliminate shipping overages.

Kitting

Kitting refers to the pre-assembly of individual products in a ready-to-ship package.  Putting items together saves time during the picking process, and cuts down on the materials necessary to pack the order.  This works especially well if you sell in bulk quantities or have products that are complementary and are often purchased together.

Plan

Sometimes, certain events happen that will affect your fulfillment processes.  Your pick and pack services should be flexible enough to handle these events, or a sudden surge in orders.  If you are a retailer that experiences a higher volume of orders during the holiday time, make sure you have a fulfillment plan for that season.  Your pick and pack processes should be well-documented to get through any challenging or busy periods.

Final Check

Mistakes are going to happen, but decreasing the chance that they do, will add to your bottom line.  For every incorrectly picked order, there is a significant cost associated with it with return shipping, and then re-shipping the correct item.  One error costs as much as shipping two or three products.  While automation is a great time-saving tool, an actual employee should do a final check of each shipment before it leaves.  This final double-check can catch costly errors before they leave the warehouse.

If your company’s pick and pack process is not operating optimally, it might be time to look to another resource.  Kable Fulfillment can handle your business’s fulfillment process from start to end.  To learn more, please visit our website at www.kablefulfillment.com.

How to Provide Efficient Fulfillment This Holiday Season

Ready or not, the holiday season is officially here.  Holiday fulfillment can present a whole range of logistics challenges if you are not prepared. ebay

Most business to consumer retailers experience a huge surge in sales during this time of year.  This is the time of year to gain new customers and to retain those who will become long-term buyers to your brand.  If your company is not ready to meet this increase in demand, however, the result can be unhappy customers whose gifts did not arrive on time and a hit to your brand’s reputation.

There are several things that can help you prepare for your company’s busiest season:

Determine Your Peak Days

Use data from past holiday seasons to figure out your company’s peak fulfillment days.  If you are a start-up, a 3PL partner can develop sales predictions for you.  A third-party logistics provider will combine data such as sales volume and customer behavior to determine the days you can expect the most orders during the holiday season.

Plan Fulfillment Around Your Peak Days

The inability to ship out the orders you receive in a timely manner during the holiday season can have catastrophic results for your company.  Staffing can be one of the biggest challenges during this time of year so provide additional training and cross-training to employees.  You can also consider hiring interns, for a lesser cost than a temporary employee, or temporary employees from a nonprofit organization in exchange for a donation to their charity.  Hiring additional staff is not the only solution to the peak season, all fulfillment operations must be planned to handle the increase in demand.

Stock Up

If you fulfill in-house, make sure you have an ample supply of boxes in several sizes, tape, packing materials, labels, and printer ink.  If your scales, tape guns, or packaging dispensers are worn, it might be a good idea to update them to handle the peak season.  Make sure there is enough space to accommodate the increase in sales and that it is organized for efficient order processing.

Systems Review

Now is the time to ensure all IT operations are effective and can handle the increase in volume.  Data-tracking systems should be updated to be able to address any issues quickly.  Review your order processing procedures with all employees to ensure they are fulfilling efficiently and correctly.

Shipping

Delivery options differ during the holiday season so you need to know your carriers’ specifics, such as cut-off dates, pick-up times, and delivery guarantees.  Understanding these details is necessary for providing realistic delivery expectations to your customers.

Consider Outsourcing

If you are a retailer that will see a significant increase in sales during the coming weeks, you need to make sure you can handle it without hurting customers.  If the spike in sales will cause customer service and delivery issues, consider using a 3PL for your fulfillment needs because today’s consumers demand correct orders on time for the holidays.  To make sure you can meet your increase in demand this season, visit www.kablefulfillment.com.