Everywhere you look there's a subscription for something, and the selection grows with each passing day. The craze for a "subscription for everything" may make you think just having a great subscription box idea is the winning recipe, but there's a lot more to it. Down the line, you'll discover that consumers aren't just interested in a box's products but aspects like its delivery cycle, quality assembly and optimal return policy. Here are four mistakes you should avoid when starting a subscription box service.

1. Thinking a subscription box service is a groundbreaking idea

Yes, people opt for subscription box services because they may not have the time to go shopping for such products or simply because they can. However, since 2013, the retail subscription market has grown by 100% yearly, which means offering such a service isn't a disruptive idea.

To stand out, you've got to do something different. Think beyond replenishment, convenience, and value. Highlight aspects that make a subscription box service worthwhile.

For instance, create a sense of belonging for your customers with loyalty programs or even referral programs, like these 16 subscription box services did.


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Subscription box services


Implement other psychological factors like personalization and exclusivity that will compel customers to stay with your brand for reasons beyond just the products in your box.

2. Poor order fulfillment and shipping methods

At the start of a subscription box business, most founders feel compelled to focus on the products they'll place inside the box. While that's great, do not ignore an optimal shipping method.

Data shows that 38% of online shoppers will abandon their orders if shipping will take more than a week. Your customers need to trust your delivery timeframes and confirm that your shipping cycles are consistent. Many solutions help you achieve quality shipping.

A great one is hiring a 3PL partner. It allows you to automate the order and delivery process of your store. You can integrate the solution to your store and every order gets fulfilled by them.

You can focus on enhancing your subscription box product quality, while your third-party fulfillment partner handles everything shipping.

Why is this crucial? Handling every aspect of shipping may be tedious and split your time resource. Alternatively, outsourcing fulfillment may boost your shipping quality, as a company solely focused on delivery will handle the delivery process, which will increase your capacity and reduce the time to deliver.

3. Ignoring Return Logistics

Over the years consumer expectations for fast shipping and returns have taken a huge leap. Research reveals that 70% of consumers experience satisfaction with a brand’s online shipping process that has a clear return policy. (See Graph)


Subscription Services trends
Subscription Services Trends

This means they prefer to just slap a prepaid return shipping sticker on the package and return it to where they got it from without worries that they’d have to go through a strenuous process.

Neglecting return logistics would be at the detriment of the consumer experience. All returns provide engagement points with your customers, and the process must reflect that you put in the same focus and attention that you do for other aspects of your brand.

So avoid making shipping and return logistics an afterthought. 

4. Neglecting Proper Kitting and Assembly

Subscription box services can't do without kitting and assembly. However, it's an expensive process for a startup subscription box brand to undertake, and it can be difficult to control the quality of the kitting process. Most brands find this out the hard way.

It can often be more cost-effective to deliver box items individually to the fulfillment house and then have items kitted there. But you need to make sure you can rely on your fulfillment partner’s kitting capabilities. You are trusting them with the quality and presentation of your final product.

There are many ways you can work with your fulfillment partner to ensure the kitting process goes well:

  • give them detailed assembly instructions with photos
  • go to the warehouse and review the steps in person with demo units
  • give them accurate advanced shipment notification for inbound stock
  • make sure your suppliers’ package and label goods according to the fulfillment company’s specifications

Focusing on the above four areas should help you find success. Now go forth and thrive!