How to find the right products for your amazing subscription box
A subscription box service is an exciting offering, giving your customers something to look forward to on a regular basis. Once you’ve managed to narrow in on a strong niche and deliver something exciting, your customers will want to stick with you.
Subscription boxes are great ways to improve your reach with the customers, enticing them to keep buying more from you.
Not only can you count on a monthly payment from them when they subscribe, but the products you include will give them a better idea of who you are as a brand. If you continue to provide value and excitement to them, they will become loyal customers.
So, how do you know what to put in your subscription box? Beyond that, once you find out what to include, how do you find great vendors to get those products from?
If you are thinking of starting your own subscription box service, this is the guide to help you source products for your amazing new box.
Can you find free products for your subscription box?
You could very well find some of your subscription products for free if you go about it right. Vendors may be willing to provide free bulk product samples for your box as a means to market their products.
Obviously, nothing is truly free and your relationship relies on the attention they get from your customers.
Free product sourcing means a couple of clear benefits for your business:
- You spend less and earn more, resulting in a higher profit margin.
- You can drive the prices of your subscription boxes down, which makes them more competitive.
Your vendors will have to be the ones bearing the cost of the products and they’ll be hoping for a return on their investment in the form of increased consumer interest in their brand.
So, you can approach local shops, small brands on social media, and sellers on Etsy and eBay to pitch them on giving you free stuff. Assuming you are compelling enough to convince them, you could accomplish a margin-changing deal.
Just don’t bet it all on finding free products. Whether you find free products or not, you want to be certain that they are high quality and fit the overall aesthetic of your subscription box and reputation of your brand.
Be warned, free products are likely to be sample sized. Mix them up with paid products to create a truly exciting subscription offering.
How to find vendors for your subscription box
Finding compatible vendors who may be willing to provide paid or free products for your subscription box can be difficult. It takes research, curation, and negotiation to get everything you need.
Here are several ways you can go about finding subscription box suppliers.
Etsy is an online marketplace that is most famous among small business owners or artists selling their unique wares.
If you are looking for something more niche or creatively curated, vendors on Etsy are likely to fulfill this need.
Since many of the sellers on Etsy are small business owners or artists without high visibility, they may be more willing to provide free products to get some more eyes on their work.
There’s the added benefit that your customers will not be able to source such specialized products from elsewhere, driving up the value of your subscription box.
Shop on Amazon
Amazon is still one of the most highly used marketplaces online, with net sales that grew by 50% in 2020.
Host to a ton of small sellers that are extremely searchable, Amazon is a sure spot for finding a variety of products that could fill out your finely curated box of curiosities.
Not only can you find what you need through the search function, they also have clear and regularly updated lists of products for “best sellers”, “most wished for”, and “movers & shakers”.
If you find something you love, you’ll want to reach out to the business to see if you can work out a wholesale deal.
Given how much competition sellers see on that vast platform, your bulk sale and new source of marketing could be a great new opportunity for both of you.
Go on eBay
eBay offers a slightly different shopping experience from Amazon or Etsy. While you can certainly buy at a fixed price from many sellers, others prefer to utilize the auction capability (depending on the type of product they sell).
You can find a lot of great products (in all different niches) at low price points, but vendors may not be as sophisticated as those on other platforms. Undertake the research to ensure that the seller’s products are of the highest quality and contact them to hammer out a good deal.
You may be able to get around the whole bidding process altogether by getting in touch.
A wholesaler is a company that sells bulk products at cheaper prices.
Finding the right wholesaler for your business, however, may be tricky. You will need to find a distributor that offers the products you need in your area and are verifiably trustworthy.
To find the most cost-effective vendors, you can go straight to the suppliers or manufacturers of the products you want in your subscription box service.
This cuts out the middleman and allows you to source more items at lower costs.
Go thrift shopping
Thrift shopping is great for finding underrated items that are sold way below the market price.
By sourcing from thrift shops, you can ensure that your subscription boxes are totally one-of-a-kind.
Contrary to popular belief, thrift shops don’t just sell dingy dungarees. They also sell a variety of high-quality products at cut-rate prices.
The trade-off is that finding what you want will take some time and effort. Plus, if you are looking for a consistent source of one product, you are likely to be disappointed.
Go on social media
The easiest way to find small businesses, wholesalers, and more who sell unique products is to find them on their socials.
You can monitor the hashtags that are relevant to your industry, and reach out to smaller businesses that may be producing unique items that not a lot of people know about. A business that’s just starting out would jump at the opportunity to be included in a hip new subscription box.
Send your favorite businesses a DM and start a relationship that will give you a great new offering and net them some nice new exposure.
Peruse crowdfunding sites
There is no better place to find innovative products from emerging brands than via crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.
While not all the great ideas will get past the funding mark, some of the products you back will move forward and you’ll have the newest coolest thing to provide to your subscribers.
If you are going there to buy, understand that you are planning for well into the future. You have to wait for production and shipping to see your new purchase.
Even if you don’t go to buy, there is so much product inspiration there that you are bound to have figured out a game changing product mix for your next box.
There are plenty of ways to find products for subscription boxes, but you have to make sure that the products align with your brand and that they are a boon to the bottomline.
The best way to have a good subscription box service is to provide customers with the types of goods that they won't be able to get elsewhere.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to curate something they’ll be ecstatic to unbox. When you need a shipping solution for your brand new box, you know who to call.