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Subscription Boxes: A Quick Guide

By Bill Carlin

Bill Carlin is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He has experience selling on every major eCommerce platform including Amazon, Ebay, Walmart.com, and more. Contact Bill today to learn more about Shipmate Fulfillment.

 

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Subscription Boxes:

Subscription boxes are becoming more of a household staple in today's market. Many Americans subscribe to meet their household needs for everything from toiletries, to fashion, to spices. People enjoy getting to experience new products and new brands from companies that produce Christmas like joy from every package they deliver.

There is just one problem. The logistics of getting various items from various suppliers to the end customer's door can be quite a challenge. Here at Shipmate we wanted to provide some tips to consider when creating a subscription box offering.

Consistency In Packaging Needs:

One of the best ways to increase the profitability of your subscription box is to keep your packaging and items offered consistent. The goal is to reduce the number of different size boxes and designs needed. To achieve this goal, make sure the items you will be offering from month to month are consistent relatively in size. It would not make sense to offer something the size of a watch one month then the size of a toaster the next month. The size difference would result in a different box being needed each month and add to the complexity of the logistics behind the box. It is important to keep this in mind with regard to packaging materials. If an item one month needs tissue paper or other special supplies and you will not be including similar items in the future, it may make financial sense to forego the item in favor of another to avoid the added expense and labor of dealing with the special packaging needs.

Organization Is Key:

Proper organization as well as individual product labeling can help improve speed and accuracy while fulfilling orders. We recommend labelling each individual component product to track inventory to prevent fulfillment errors while constructing your subscription boxes. A scannable barcode is the best way to keep track your inventory and avoid errors. Check out this article on product labeling for more info.  It is also important to avoid mixed cases. It is imperative to keep one SKU per master case to prevent unnecessary confusion and potential errors.

Quality Control:

Every business owner knows that returns can be costly. In order to reduce the rate of return, there are a few things you can do: use an assembly line or fill each box one item at a time. Handle only one component at a time to ensure that each component is fulfilled in the right quantity. Having too many components handled at once at the same station can lead to confusion or errors. IPQC (In Process Quality Control) methods are also recommended. Inspect each box after the final component is added to ensure fulfillment accuracy. This check can catch any errors that had occurred during the assembly process. Finally, weigh each box as you place a shipping label on them. Each box with the same components should weigh a similar amount. If there is any notable variance in weight you would be alerted to a possible error that requires further inspection. Strong quality control can save a business hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month.

Make Your Suppliers Do The Work For You:

This is one of the most important steps you can take to improve the logistics behind your subscription box. Many times factories and other makers have the scale and automation to perform tasks much cheaper then you can in house. Consider having suppliers perform all labeling related tasks. Many factories or makers can pre-pack fragile components, thus reducing the costs associated with assembling your subscription box. Think of what can be done by your supplier to reduce your own work load and build it into any negotiations you have.

Conclusion:

Subscription boxes can be a profitable and fulfilling business, but understanding the logistics behind building them can set your business apart.  Consider everything from purchasing, to packaging, to assembly, and more when designing your offering.

Topics: barcode labeling, labeling, barcodes, kitting & bundling, kitting, bundling, profitability, Logistics, Fulfillment, customer care

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