Tips and Advice

Thinking inside the box: How stationers can capitalise on the subscription box trend

Since 2010, when Birchbox made waves in the beauty world by offering a subscription service, the industry has grown from strength to strength. And it shows no signs of stopping. From food to fitness, dog treats to socks, there’s no limit to what you can get delivered through your door. But what about a stationery subscription?


Could it work for you?

Whatever you sell, whether it’s cards, homewares, stationery or even prints and art, there’s a market waiting to be explored.

Whilst what’s inside the box that is important, it’s the receiving of the box itself that drives the excitement. Subscribers are treated to what’s essentially a monthly gift, even if it is from themselves! The idea of a subscription box each week or month, bursting with new things to discover, is a wonderfully self indulgent way to treat themselves and get ahead with trends and inspiring products.


Capitalising on curiosity

As humans, we’re curious. We’re always looking for new things to discover, we pride ourselves on being ‘first’ to find new things and share them with the world. The subscription model is the perfect platform to explore this idea and, essentially, charge a premium for it.

Image credit: Birchbox


Getting started

If you’re thinking about creating your own subscription service, there are a few things you’ll need to know before you get started.


How often?

First think about how often you could offer your boxes. Committing to weekly boxes could interfere with your day-to-day activities, so start with something manageable.


Let people know

Once you’ve made the decision, you need to let people know, so they can get signed up! Whether you launch right away, via your online website or you take a softer approach and trial your boxes first, make sure you put a plan together to make sure you communicate in the right way. Social media can be a key driver here, and targeted ads could help you increase your subscribers. Take a look at our Facebook advertising guide here, if you need a hand on how to get set up.

Image credit: Birchbox


What’s in the box?

This one might be self-explanatory, but have a think about what else you could offer in your boxes. Perhaps your subscribers will receive one-off pieces, new stock that isn’t released yet, or a handwritten note from you? The key here is to make them feel special, so they keep up that subscription!

Often, subscription boxes are themed – if this is something you’re considering, put some thought into how you’ll make sure yours transcends. Everything from your products to your packaging will need to convey your theme, so it’s worth spending some time thinking about the kinds of themes you could create.


Think outside the box

It’s not just what’s inside the box that counts. Think about how you’ll package your boxes up – will they be branded? Perhaps you’ll add a Belly Band? Maybe a Sticker? Think about luxury inserts, (Postcards are perfect for this) and don’t forget to include your Business Card! Why not go the extra mile and jazz up your Address Labels too?


The follow up

Once you’re all set up, it’s a good idea to collect customer feedback on your new service.

Follow up your boxes with an email asking how your subscribers found it. It’ll help give you ideas for the next box and find out what they love to receive. Another useful way to gain traction and get feedback is by asking your subscribers to share their boxes on social media.

Include an insert in your boxes to encourage customers to take photos and talk about their boxes. Why not create a hashtag, so you can easily identify your subscriber posts?

To encourage them, why not consider a giveaway? Ask your subscribers to rate their boxes and share their photos and their next box could be free. A refer a friend scheme could also be beneficial – Graze, for example, allows you share a unique code which gets you and your friends money off your next boxes.

Have you considered how a subscription could work for you?

Let us know in the comments below!


Read about how artist, Laxmi Hussein, is making the most of her subscription box service, here.

About the author

Jack knows everything there is to know about print. With nearly 20 years’ experience, he's an expert in everything from print floor processes to product specifications. When he’s not flexing his printing knowledge you’ll find him looking after his cat, Turnip. No really. That’s her actual name.

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