LETTERBOX LOGISTICS: THE TECH BEHIND THE SUBSCRIPTION BOX BOOM

From coffee to craft beer, shaving products to sex toys; you name it, these days you can subscribe to receive it to your door. The past few years have seen a deluge of rapidly expanding subscription box businesses, launched by keen-eyed young entrepreneurs like Ned Corbett-Winder of Not Another Bill and Cornerstone’s Oliver Bridge.

Some remove the hassle of shopping for life’s essentials, while others provide monthly moments of delight. What binds them all though, is the technology that drives them. It’s advanced, efficient and often bespoke to this burgeoning industry. And it’s driving a major shift in how we buy what we need.

E-COMMERCE

Online platforms like Subbly and Cratejoy are one-stop shops for subscription box services. Designed specifically to support such businesses, they provide tools for every stage of the process from website design to customer management and payment transaction.

Many plump for this option, but a myriad of alternative online and cloud-based tools mean a more unique approach is just as feasible. Setting up secure, automated payment scheduling through merchants like Paypal and Stripe is just a couple of clicks away too.

FULFILMENT

Picture the scene. You’ve just signed up to get your favourite stuff delivered to your door, every month. It’s exciting, but everything feels so remote…until the first box arrives! Now it’s tangible.

That ‘unboxing’ moment is a crucial point in the customer relationship, and so the way products are packed and packaged must be spot on. Doing this at scale may seem a challenge, but fulfilment companies like Exact Abacus not only pick and pack exactly to specification, but use specialist software to manage inventory, track orders and replenish stock in real-time.

Some will even print packaging on-site, and allow their clients to design their own postage labels, further adding to the brand experience.

SHIPPING

In days gone by, subscription businesses in their infancy would cart each parcel to the Post Office, with a very real risk that some would never be seen again by them or their customers.

Today’s technology allows businesses to seamlessly merge customer data with printed pre-postage labels, and share this data with courier companies who pick up and deliver each package – with tracking software (including automated customer emails) that ensures nothing gets lost or mislaid.

When tens of subscribers turn into thousands, fulfilment companies take care of this aspect too. Job done.

MARKETING

Subscription box marketers looking to grow their subscriber bases talk about one thing above all else: CPA (cost per acquisition). Ten years ago, the difficulty of raising awareness and driving website traffic on a shoestring budget would have seen typically high CPAs.

Social media has been instrumental in driving this cost down. Coupled with some good SEO and paid search investment, the ever-growing popularity of social sites has been capitalised on by many to grow their audience cost-effectively.

As subscription marketing campaign experts, we’re watching the industry grow with great fascination. Here are a few of our favourite subscription boxes:

BEER52: 8 different exclusive craft beers delivered every month

CORNERSTONE: Flexible, regular delivery of quality shaving products

NOT ANOTHER BILL: Surprise gifts tailored to personal style and tastes

GLOSSYBOX: 5 different tailored beauty products delivered monthly