Admit it. You or your business have been thinking about launching a box of the month. And why not? It’s one of the most successful subscription models for consumer-facing businesses! Some of the most popular box categories are fashion, beauty samples, organic food, eco products, and kids’ crafts and activities. There’s also boxes for daily needs, such as coffee, tea, razors, socks, and underwear.  

One can also find subscription boxes that will deliver the more… unusual. Witchcraft supplies, for example. Or moss. Or dirt! Yes, there’s a box-of-the-month that contains gold-laden paydirt from actual working mines. If there’s a need, desire or curiosity, someone has probably come up with a subscription box that delivers it.

The ubiquity, variety, and popularity of these box-of-the-month offerings shows that the model still has a lot of untapped potential. eMarketer recently published results from a survey by Hitwise which analyzed activity among 127 subscription box sites on its platform. They found that visits to subscription box sites in the US has grown in the past three years by nearly 3,000%—from 700,000 monthly visitors in January 2013 to 21.4 million in January 2016!  

Subscription boxes tend to fall into two broad categories: convenience and curation. Everyday items like razors and diapers are of the convenience variety. Subscribers know what they’re getting, and the item comes regularly, so they never run out of whatever it is. One can see why this would be popular for certain necessities.

Curated boxes are the other end of the spectrum from convenience. Generally based on a theme—Japanese candy for example, or fashion jewelry—they contain a different selection of items, usually delivered every month or quarter. Indeed, it’s this surprise element that is part of the appeal. Customers never know exactly what their box will contain when it arrives. The best boxes are known for being curated well, with a unique and interesting variety of items that are a good value for the price.

Some boxes are so popular, they even have a dedicated fanbase who go so far as to create “unboxing” videos uploaded to YouTube, complete with spoiler alerts for those who haven’t yet received their own box.  

Besides a passion for whatever item a subscription box business wants to deliver, what else does a business need to get started? The Hitwise survey did find that subscription box sites receive a significant share of visits from mobile devices, 10% more than general retail site visits. So, having a site optimized for mobile visitors is a solid strategic move.

As well, you’ll need a reliable and robust recurring revenue billing tool. Billing for recurring revenue is actually quite complex. Subscription businesses need to work with the right gateway and set up their account to ensure that their payments will go through every month. They also need an easy, highly automated means to rectify failed payments and minimize churn. They need to be able to correctly bill for changes to a customer’s plan, such as an upgrades or downgrade in the middle of the billing cycle. They need to collect the right taxes, and they need to make sure their customers and their business aren’t victims of fraud. Recurly can help with all of these. 

If you’re interested in learning more, talk to a Recurly expert at (844) 732-8759, or sign up for a demo below.