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How to Start a Subscription Box Business With Cratejoy

I make money on some of the products and services I mention on Thinking Frugal through affiliate relationships. I never endorse a product or service unless I believe it will benefit my readers.

Many companies offer subscription box services. One of the best known is Ipsy for its makeup subscription boxes.

People, especially women, love subscription boxes. But what if you could start your own subscription box business? How can you go about doing that and using a website to sell your own products?

The good news is, you can. Cratejoy is a subscription box company founded in 2014 and headquartered in Austin, Texas. Instead of selling its own products like Ipsy, Cratejoy offers a marketplace where small business owners can create and sell their own products through monthly subscription services.

So, if you are interested in starting your own small business using Cratejoy, let’s take a look at how to do it. 

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Opened box with soap and lotion

Start Your Home-Based Subscription Box Business


Planning Your Business

The first thing you need to know before you dive into the world of Cratejoy is what you want to sell and how you are going to make money from it. 

The fantastic thing about subscription boxes is that there are so many options, but you do want to have a clear plan on what yours will contain and who you are aiming it at before you start.

Competitor Research

Do a little competitor research – are there boxes already on Cratejoy that are similar to what you have thought about? 

That’s a good sign because that means there’s a market for it. If there are many of them, you may want to tweak the idea to create a slightly different angle for yours so you can stand out.

Pricing Your Box

While doing this, you need to look at pricing and think about how you will make money. If every box costs you $10 to buy the items in it, you can’t sell it for $10. Well, you could, but you’d make no profit! You need to get the balance between what the market tolerates on price and what you can charge to make some money.

Cratejoy has a pricing guide calculator to help with this too.

Shipping the Box

The final part of planning is thinking about how you will ship the box and where you’ll ship them. For example, will you have the stock at home, package them yourself, and ship to customers? Will you use a partner to ship straight from them to your customers?

There are loads of options and no right or wrong solution. But it is worth exploring the options and thinking about practical things. Things you need to take into consideration include:

  •  The amount of space you have for stock. 
  • How easy it is to regularly get to wherever you need to be to mail items. 
  • If you can have those kinds of things at home in bulk (if you live in rented accommodation, for example).

Building the Business

With your plans in hand, you are ready to sign up with Cratejoy and start building your business. 

You can go here to create your new Cratejoy account.

A Prototype Box

An excellent place to start is a prototype box. Creating a prototype box allows you to make everything together and see how it works to ensure it flows how you expected it. 

It may not be exactly how you want your first box will be, but the idea is to follow your process as if you or a friend were a customer, including payment and shipping the item.

The prototype will also help you to settle on a few crucial decisions. Every subscription box service needs three things – products, a box, and packaging. You’ve definitely thought about the first and maybe the second but have you thought about how to package the items? Keep it simple to start with but practical and make it looks as smart as possible.

Create a Prelaunch

Once you have tested your process, know it works, and have finalized what’s going into your first box, you are ready to go into a prelaunch phase. The prelaunch phase generally lasts from 15 to 60 days, and the aim is to get people interested in what you are going to be selling, even if they aren’t buying it right away.

Set yourself an email signup goal for the prelaunch. It might be 20 people, 100 signups, or something else. Conversion rates are usually 10-20% of the people who see your prelaunch, so you’d need 200 people to see it to get 20 signups.

Then you create a prelaunch page. The main aim of this is to showcase your product and collect those emails for the launch. Cratejoy has a template to help with this, and you can connect it with several email marketing software options, including something like Mailchimp that is free to start with.

Then you are ready to start telling people! Social media is a big deal for this, so look at creating a Facebook Page and talking about your product. You may want to use Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, or even TikTok, depending on your audience and where they hang out.

Create Your Listing

While the prelaunch is going on, you want to be adding your product to Cratejoy so that when the phase ends, the product is ready to go right away. The marketplace on Cratejoy is where you list your items, and this is free to do. 

Once you have a live store, you can then make use of their marketing tools to help you reach more people once the product is live.

Launch the Product

Once the prelaunch phase ends, you are into the reality of having an active business. Here’s where the process you set up comes into action, and you start to get orders. It is also where you’ll see if improvements are needed or things that don’t work when you are repeatedly doing them.

Make sure that your orders are going out and being received by customers on time. If there are common issues, you may need to tweak your process or your customer expectations. Don’t promise something unless you know it can happen, or this can lead to bad reviews and losing customers.

Get Ready for the Next Box

No sooner than you have launched your first box, you will need to be preparing for your next one, especially if you have told people it will be a monthly box. But that’s the fun of this type of business – there’s always something new coming along.

By using Cratejoy to build your subscription business, you can be well placed to have a profitable idea that is easy to market and simple to reach customers. As your business grows, you’ll refine your processes, maybe add new types of boxes, and Cratejoy will be there to help you. That’s why so many people love to sell through this service.

Final Thoughts on Starting a Subscription Box Business

Starting your own subscription box business is very inexpensive and doesn’t cost a lot to start. And after you have your clientele built up, you will earn recurring payments every month. So, why not get started?

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