Subscription box marketing when the sun is shining…
It’s our second summer season here at Boxcitement, how the time has flown! Our long term subscribers will remember the Midsummer box we sent out last June, which marked a turning point in the growth of our fledgling business. From that month on, we started to grow at a much faster rate, and see a little bit of buzz around the subscription boxes we were creating every month. And yet, for ecommerce the Summer is a time generally when sales slow down as customers start to focus on holidays and experiences rather than purchases. So how do you buck the trend and ensure growth when the sun is shining and customers have other things on their minds?…
We think the answer is simple – it’s all about the customers. We have always been proud here at Boxcitement of our customer service, and this is even more important when subscribers are contemplating whether your monthly box is worth it when there are so many other things to spend money on at this time of year. We offer the ability to skip months for people who are going on holiday for example – this is a popular service which means you don’t have to worry about boxes being delivered while you are away. And we always make our box contents seasonal – while they are not themed to match the seasons they will include weather appropriate gifts to make them useful all year round. Examples include al fresco lunch bags for summer, candle holders for when the evenings draw in and party planners for Christmas. We have to plan ahead to make sure we hit the seasons at the right time – and luckily our Antipodean customers do understand that as a UK subscription box company we work upside down to them!
Of course the advantage of a subscription-based store is that we can plan and tailor products much more easily than a regular gift shop – and because we create our goodies as limited editions they won’t be found on supermarket shelves or flooding the sales bins after summer has ended. We only produce enough items for that particular month meaning we regularly sell out (but that adds an element of fun for our subscribers!). We never pop out of season items into our boxes just to get rid of them. And our trend-finding missions in London and overseas ensure our designs are always of the moment.
Any slow down in growth is worrying for a small business so we make sure we double our efforts at this time of year to counter-effect the ‘summer slump’. Our Instagram posts are more about lifestyle and fun, and our tweets are timed for times of day our target market are likely to see them – on the way to the pub after work for example, instead of at home on the sofa in the evening which is more of a winter habit. Our craft newsletters include season appropriate activities (no point making bunting in January!) and we use the longer summer days to make items for future boxes – it’s much easier to dry clay in the Summer than in the Winter! We fight inertia with energy, and if last Summer is anything to go by it seems to work – because when you create a fun product, including useful items for the time of year that put a smile on customers’ faces, people will want them whatever time of year it is.
So what are the key pointers we have discovered in growing our subscription box over the summer months? They could help anyone with a small creative business…
- Stay focussed and don’t panic – we are focussed on holidays and activities and our customers are no different. They may be harder to find but they are still there!
- Time social media posts, emails and newsletters around a summer schedule – people are much more likely to go out straight from work, be away from their computer at weekends and be searching for seasonal items on Google – remember this to ensure posts won’t disappear without being seen
- Ensure boxes fit the season they are posted in – customers are in a summer mindset, delight them with products suitable for this time of year and include sneak peeks of upcoming gifts so they know they are not wasting their money
- Make sure existing customers can skip a month, have their box posted to a different address or even re-gift it while they are away – that way their regular treat doesn’t have to stop altogether when holidays come around
- Create memorable social media posts that embrace the summer. We have been showing behind the scenes images of our team enjoying good weather, creating Instagram stories around a sudden summer downpour and using green and purple colours while Wimbledon is on – it’s all about sharing the feelings and activities our customers are experiencing at this time of year
- Schedule upcoming boxes to make sure everyone gets a holiday! At Boxcitement we all take the same two weeks off to ensure everyone is refreshed and ready for Autumn and Christmas, but this means being really organised! Boxes need to be planned further ahead, photo shoots organised earlier than normal and products that take a long time to make started early. It’s a busy but fun time in the Box Office – and we all have our holiday to look forward to!
Do you have any pointers to share about running a business when the sun is shining? Let us know – we love hearing from you!
Deb and the team at Boxcitement