HOW TO LAUNCH A SUBSCRIPTION BOX FOR PET SUPPLIES IN 5 SIMPLE STEPS

October 5, 2021
|
Emmanuel Umukoro


The pet industry reached a milestone in 2020, with total sales of $103.6 billion, a historic high, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). That marks an increase of 6.7% over 2019 retail sales of $97.1 billion and is estimated to reach $109.6 billion in the U.S. alone.


So yes, our pets who are the recipients of subscription pet boxes have everything good working for them. They are like kids celebrating birthdays every month, and their delight is obvious every time they see us with their supplies, be it food or toys.


As magazine readers and coffee lovers, among others, can attest, monthly subscriptions are not a new concept. However, the subscription box trend grew to include pet supplies only a few years ago.


E-commerce merchants are using the subscription business model to provide pet owners treats and supplies suited to their specific requirements. Barkbox, for example, provides customized subscription boxes for over 1 million dogs. When customers sign up for a plan, they go to the company's website and input some information about their dogs.


So, what do you need to know about the retail revolution that's sweeping the pet industry?


PET SUPPLY BOX

A subscription pet box is a service that sends a box of treats and toys to pet owners every month. The happy dog or cat receives a goodies box with surprise products sometimes based around a certain theme after a pet owner enrolls as a monthly-rate subscription member with a particular pet box supplier.


Since BarkBox's inception in 2011, the subscription pet box business model has seen incredible success and expansion. Hundreds of thousands of people subscribe to dozens of pet box companies across the country, resulting in a lot of happy pets. “...the thrill of a million belly scratches,” as BarkBox puts it.


It's no secret that people enjoy spoiling their children, including those of the furry type. This creates a unique sense of parental fulfillment.  Recognizing the growing bond between people and their pets, and the increased spending habits of many pet owners, savvy entrepreneurs capitalized by targeting dog and cat owners for subscription boxes for their beloved companions.


Pet owners like the surprises that come with pet boxes, as well as the reactions their four-legged pals have to these monthly gifts. Subscribed pet owners additionally benefit from having a built-in capability to find new products (health and hygiene supplies, toys, chews, treats, and so on) entering the pet industry each month. Pet box subscriptions are also an excellent gift idea for pet lovers in your life.


SUCCESSFUL PET SUBSCRIPTION BOX EXAMPLES

Whether you run a pet supply store and you're looking to add a subscription offering to your model, or you're just an individual looking to start a subscription box service for pets, there are numerous options that you can look at as a model to inspire you.


Here are a few examples to inspire you:


MEOWBOX

meowbox e-commerce subscription box for pet supplies


A monthly cat subscription box loaded with entertaining, unique toys and treats. They only provide services for cats; selects food and treats that are either nutritious, tasty, manufactured with natural ingredients, grain-free, organic, or locally made; actively support animal shelters and rescue activities.


BarkBox

barkbox - e-commerce subscription for pet supplies


Barkbox is a subscription service that sends out a box of dog treats every month. They are one of the first and largest pet subscription box companies; they have shipped millions of toys and treats. They only provide services for dogs; each item is unique from anything sent in a subsequent box; subscribers can replace one item per box if necessary; they support shelters, rescues, and non-profits across the United States that help dogs find their forever homes.


My Pet Gift Box

My pet gift box subscription e-commerce


PetGiftBox is a subscription box for dogs and cats that gives Paw Print of Satisfaction and it's one of the fastest-growing pet box companies. They offer monthly billing and one-time purchases; cater to both dogs and cats; gender-specific pet boxes; and support America's VetDogs, which helps veterans that are disabled.


5 STEPS TO STARTING A SUBSCRIPTION BOX FOR PET SUPPLIES


STEP 1: IDENTIFY A NICHE AND PICK A SUBSCRIPTION BOX IDEA

A good idea is the bedrock of any successful business. When it comes to e-commerce subscriptions, specificity is what distinguishes decent ideas from fantastic ones. The first stage in developing a successful subscription business is to analyze your market fit, competitor analysis, and client profile as thoroughly as possible. Let's get this party started!


Things to Consider

To help you identify a niche and pick the best possible fit for your pet supply idea, consider answering the following questions:


1. What is my pet product Niche?

A niche is best understood as a specific market for products and services. You can either choose to include supplies for various categories of pets in your business or like Bark Box and Meow Box above, you can further customize your product to a single audience. The more specialized your box is, the easier it is to curate products for a specific audience, allowing you to increase client retention and provide a positive experience. 


2. Who are my competitors

The subscription box industry is expanding, but that doesn't mean your package won't find a home. When evaluating your competitors, you'll want to be prepared to answer queries like, "How many boxes are you competing with?" during your study. What do they have to give and at what cost? How can you set your box apart from theirs?


3. Who are my customers

Spend some time figuring out your potential consumer once you've established your niche and market fit. This may require analyzing your competitors' customers. With this exercise, be as specific as possible.  Pet owners are your primary customers but you need to know the stores they visit frequently.  The social media channel they prefer to interact with.


Once you’ve started advertising, refer back to these answers and adjust as necessary. You may find, for instance, that your idea of the perfect customer was a 20-something West Coast city dweller, but in reality, they’re a middle-aged mom in the Midwest. Be open to learning who your true customers are over time and pivoting your marketing strategies accordingly.


STEP 2: PRICE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION BOX

Mispricing a subscription box is one of the most common mistakes a subscription box owner can make. Whether you're pricing too low to be competitive or too high to secure a healthy profit margin, both extremes will jeopardize your company's existence. To help you correctly price your subscription box, you must use a box calculator and ensure you set your box at a 45% profit margin for sustainability.  


Things to Consider

  1. Cost of the products in your box


  1. Cost of subscription box which is primarily your box and box accessories such as stickers or stamps


  1. Cost of packing materials which includes bubble wrap, inserts, or filler paper.


  1. The cost of shipping, including packing tape, mailing labels, etc.


  1. Transaction and platform fees - charges from your e-commerce platform such as Shopify and payment processor or Subscription management solution such as Chargezen payment processor and e-commerce platform per order


  1. Fixed monthly costs such as accounting software fees.


  1. Cost of advertising & marketing to acquire new customers


In all your considerations, ensure you find a balance by coming up with a pricing that resonates with customers and is reasonable in your niche.


STEP 3: BEGIN PRELAUNCH

A prelaunch is the act of marketing your box before its release to build interest, acquire email signups, and generate buzz about your future release. The majority of prelaunches are hosted on email registration landing pages. 


Things to consider

During your prelaunch, you'll have to address several things that are not limited to but majorly:

  1. Decide your prelaunch duration, usually between 15 to 60 days
  2. Create a prelaunch page; this could be the same webpage you’ll use when you start rolling out subscriptions.
  3. Create and connect your email tool to your prelaunch page and set an email signup goal.
  4. Start social media accounts and market your page
  5. While your prelaunch is ongoing at the surface, take on product sourcing
  6. And prepare for shipping


STEP 4: SET UP YOUR E-COMMERCE STORE AND ADOPT A SUBSCRIPTION MANAGEMENT SOLUTION

Building an e-commerce store might be challenging especially if you don't know which tools to use or how to code. This is why I always recommend that merchants build their store on a user-friendly e-commerce platform and a comprehensive subscription management solution that requires no coding whatsoever.


  1. Shopify is an easy-to-use online store builder trusted by over 1,700,000 stores. Fully Hosted, Cloud-Based Solutions, and 
  2. Chargezen  is the most advanced vertically integrated Shopify subscription management solution powering recurring payments for innovative brands.


Shopify and Chargezen make a powerful team that will make selling subscription boxes easier and simpler than ever. Some of Shopify's most successful subscription businesses employ this strong combo. You can effortlessly manage your business and keep track of all your subscription and sales using Chargezen. Furthermore, you have the option of converting existing one-time products into monthly subscriptions, which can be quite valuable because it allows you to test new product concepts. Both Shopify and Chargezen are fully mobile-friendly, which is especially important given that mobile e-commerce is predicted to overtake online sales in the coming year.


Once you’ve made your platform choice and adopted a subscription management solution, it’s time to start working on your storefront.


STEP 5: START TAKING ORDERS AND PREPARE FOR SUCCESS

Throughout your prelaunch, you've been purchasing products, perfecting your box design, and organizing all of your inserts. Here's the point where put everything together and launch your bet supply subscription box.


You should notify customers of the first ship date, tracking emails should be available, and you should try your hand at last-minute promotions and sneak peeks to entice more subscribers in this step.


Your first pet subscription box has rolled out, and you've made your first sales! Congratulations! Now is a good time to analyze the operations for the first month and examine how your assumptions about customer, niche, and product experience have panned out


Things to consider

Here are a few questions you should answer after your first shipment:


  1. Did I request feedback from my subscribers?


  1. Were my subscribers pleased with my supplies?


  1. Is the information on my customer profile still correct?


  1. Which marketing channels attracted the most customers, which require assistance, and which should I eliminate?


  1. Were there any suppliers with whom I should no longer work?


  1. What about my delivery process in the first fulfillment, did it slow me down?


  1. What are my customer's most frequently asked questions that I need to provide answers to?


FINAL THOUGHTS

From this point on, the goal for the future is to continue to grow your pet supply subscription business. Word of mouth referrals, in which customers refer other customers, is one of the most cost-effective ways to do this. Referred customers are more inclined to evangelize on your behalf, according to numerous studies.


Develop a customer referral program in which clients are rewarded based on the number of referrals they generate. For example, for every 5 referrals or less, you may give them a free box.


Other tried-and-true marketing techniques, such as  Instagram, marketplace listing, Pinterest, and influencer marketing, should be explored in addition to referrals.


There are numerous opportunities for your subscription box business in the future. You can either keep working to grow your box's subscriber base, or you can diversify your offering by launching new boxes or offering one-time products.


In brief, each step listed above is crucial to launching your first subscription box, especially product sourcing and the packaging of your boxes. However, the e-commerce platform you host your store and the subscription management solution you adopt are the two most important elements in your success equations. Check out Chargezen's blog for more tips to help keep your subscription business on a steady growth.


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