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Build a Better Subscription Box: How to Curate & Procure Amazing Products

  • Rai Cornell
  • Jan 28, 2021
  • 5 minute read

Cornell Content Marketing specializes in full-funnel content creation, copywriting, and digital marketing for subscription businesses. Founded by a trained psychologist, every word is infused with compelling, connecting psychological principles.

There’s a certain excitement in receiving a package in the mail and not knowing what it contains. With curated subscription boxes, customers experience this joy on a heightened level every month.

Whether it’s the first subscription box or the thousandth, delivering consistently amazing products to customers every month can be tremendous pressure for a subscription box company. However, the process doesn’t have to be difficult, according to Toni Ann Hazzard, an expert in product curation and procurement. The secret to success lies in carefully planning your strategy and working with the right people.

Here are Hazzard’s top tips for creating an exceptional subscription box every month.

Tip 1: Know Your Target Customer

Creating a beautiful subscription box is about more than simply identifying your niche market. While the first step for your company is deciding which general area to focus on — think makeup, fitness, pets, or plants — the next step is really zeroing in on your target customer.

Don’t be afraid to get specific. The more you can narrow down who your subscription box is catering to, the better you’ll be able to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations.

Tip 2: Create a Luxury Experience

Hazzard points out that subscription boxes are about the overall experience, not any single item inside. “None of these boxes are necessary,” she says. “It’s a luxury. It’s something that we create that people want to have. If you want to deliver the best experience, you need to make sure that you’re paying attention to all those little details.”

To create the full experience of a subscription box, Hazzard asks her clients what their desires and wishes are for their target customers. From there, she curates the perfect products, right down to the colors, graphics, and fonts. When starting with a generic blank, there’s an infinite number of ways to customize an item so that it speaks to the target customer.

Tip 3: Take the Time to Do It Right

By giving each item its fair share of time and attention, you’ll create a more cohesive box that appears tailor-made. Do the research and your target customer will feel special, like you know them (because you do!), every time they open one of your boxes — and that will keep them coming back for more.

Tip 4: Create a Timeline

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges of assembling a subscription box is procuring products and delivering on time. Finding a fantastic price or buying items in bulk may mean sourcing from overseas, which comes with a unique set of logistics.

Hazzard recommends creating a timeline by working backward from your goal box delivery date, keeping in mind that each stage in the process takes time. For example, if you’re sourcing a customized item from China, production alone may take 45 to 60 days. Shipping by boat (to keep costs down) can then take three to four weeks.

You’ll also need to build in time for clearance, customs, breakdown, and delivery to your warehouse. Sample approval may take around a month, as well. Finally, give yourself enough time to assemble the boxes and get them into the hands of eager customers each month.

Tip 5: Build Out Your Calendar

Once you have a good grasp of the time frame needed to put together a subscription box from start to finish, build out your calendar. Try to work on multiple boxes at once so you can get several months’ worth wrapped up and have some breathing room between each order.

It’s also helpful to organize your calendar so samples arrive around the same time. That way you can see them together for comparison.

Tip 6: Balance Quality & Cost

Curating the perfect subscription box each month is no small feat. The goal is to procure the best products possible while pricing appropriately for your target customer and still turning a profit. 

Finding a balance is vital, and it’s important to remember that better prices doesn’t equate to a better product. Shop around, but keep your expectations in check. Know what an item typically sells for and understand that getting a $50 item for $1 just isn’t realistic.

Tip 7: Don’t Lower Your Standards

No matter what budget constraints you’re working with, put in the effort to curate a beautiful box. “A $1 item deserves the same amount of attention as a $100 item,” Hazzard notes. Evaluate suppliers and samples carefully. 

Avoid knockoffs, and keep original samples to check against preproduction samples to be sure you’re getting the quality items that you’ve approved and paid for. Never accept an item that is below your standards.

Tip 8: Avoid Issues by Being Proactive 

Don’t be afraid to check in frequently — weekly or biweekly — with suppliers. Knowing where things stand at every stage of the procurement process — from samples and production to shipping — can help you solve potential issues before they become huge problems.

Tip 9: Work With People You Trust

If box curation and item procurement logistics sound like a lot to manage, don’t worry. There are people who can help. “It doesn’t have to be a fire drill all the time,” Hazzard says. Proper planning and standards can help you simplify the process.

As with your products, don’t lower your standards when it comes to who you work with. Anyone your subscription box company partners with should have your vision in mind and your interests at heart.

If you’d like to connect with Toni Ann Hazzard, reach out to her on LinkedIn. Cornell Content Marketing is a digital marketing agency that specializes in marketing for Business-to-Consumers companies (B2C) and subscription brands. 

Cornell Content Marketing specializes in full-funnel content creation, copywriting, and digital marketing for subscription businesses. Founded by a trained psychologist, every word is infused with compelling, connecting psychological principles.

Want to learn more subscription tips to help scale your business? Join SUBTA. We’re a community of doers, excited to share insights, make connections and grow your subscription brand.