Subscription Soap....Is it time?

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by DWinMadison, May 21, 2019.

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  1. May 21, 2019 #1

    DWinMadison

    DWinMadison

    DWinMadison

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    Have any of you guys tried "subscription" services whereby you send our a certain number of bars and/or other products on a regular basis for an annual fee? It's crazy popular for other products---at least with my wife. :rolleyes:No, seriously, she does enjoy a couple of them for cosmetics, and we also do a couple for wine (boot-leg to MS) and olive oil. We honestly overpay for all of it, but I have to admit, it is like Christmas morning several times a year.

    In the wine clubs we participate in, you can choose "lanes" of products... all red, all white, mixed. They select the wines in our lane, and them them out. I could foresee doing the same with soap (spa scents, florals, ...) or other bath/beauty products. Obviously, you'd throw in a cross-marketing piece along they way (e.g. a sample salt scrub).

    Again, anybody doing this successfully?
     
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  2. May 21, 2019 #2

    LilyJo

    LilyJo

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    Not done it myself but I know there are a few soapers on Instragram already doing it - tbh there are subscription boxes for pretty much anything now!
     
  3. May 21, 2019 #3

    amd

    amd

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    I answered in the shipping thread, but I'll answer here too... a little bit more in depth.

    I tried Cratejoy last year (one of the "growth" efforts I made last year that put me in the hole). I had crickets. Nothing. Not a single sale. Of course that was just doing soap, maybe if I trusted in myself to be able to do a more varied box offering - such as a soap, scrub and lip balm - it might have sold. But then again, it might not have.

    I offer a subscription service on my own website, The Soap of the Month Club, that has done really well for 2-ish years now. I think I started it December 2016. I used to offer it year round and make extra soap for each month for add-ins, but just changed it so that I only offer it at specific times of the year so that I can better control planning and making the soaps, as well as managing customers (remembering to remind customers that this was their last month was a huge failure on my part). So now everyone ends on the same month, when I reopen the subscription, they'll get the reminder as well. I was scared that I was going to lose sales doing it that way, but when I went back to review the subscriptions, the "drop-ins" were actually predictably in line with Christmas season so I coordinated my signup times with that in mind. Sorry, this might be way more than you wanted to know, but I love my club soaps. They're fun, quirky soaps that are different than soaps I carry in my regular lineup. I do include a letter with each soap - just a quick blurb on half a sheet of paper that says a little bit about what's going on in my life, I talk about the soap design, why I chose it for that month, and then close with a teaser at what's coming next month. I had one customer who got the soap as a gift from one of my regular club members, but it was too much soap for her to use a full bar in one month (seriously, I question how often she showers because she hasn't been in the club for a year now and still emails me "I just started using this soap and I love it") but she loved the letters so much she asked me if I could continue to send her the letters every month! She's lucky that her daughter is one of my favorite customers 'cuz I send her an endcut with her letter too, lol. [Just so you don't think I'm crazy for doing this, every time her daughter orders from me, she orders $50-75 and I have the tip function open on my shopping cart so she'll tip me $10-15 on top of that... so I think her daughter has paid for this small gift 1000x over.] And there it is. WAAAAAYYYY more than you wanted to know. Sorry. work is non-existent today, my office mates are all traveling, so I'm lonely... bored lonely Sherry = Chatty Kathy
     
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  4. May 22, 2019 #4

    Lin19687

    Lin19687

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    I have to be honest here. You are jumping the gun too fast and going in all sorts of directions.
    Get your Biz going and then figure out which way to go depending on what kind of traffic you have.
     
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  5. May 22, 2019 #5

    amd

    amd

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    I'm going to disagree @Lin19687 I don't think there's any jumping the gun on asking if anyone has done it and if it's worked. Now, if he did it without asking and then complained on the forum later and got "we would have told you if you asked"... different story. Part of making a business plan is determining where your markets are going to be, how you're going to implement sales, and what you need to do to grow. Asking about subscription services is part of research to determine where your markets are going to be. Just like we know that Etsy is hugely saturated with soap and warn beginner biz that "You can do it, but don't expect it to pay the bills".

    Cratejoy was expensive at $40/month whether I sold anything or not, and I am strongly not going to recommend it. I do recommend starting a service on your own website to see how it goes with your regular customers before trying to grow outside your customer base. (summarizing what I said in previous post in case it wasn't clear... I was kind of rambly yesterday.)
     
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  6. May 22, 2019 #6

    Lin19687

    Lin19687

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    Sorry @amd but if someone is going in too many directions they are going to just whirl themselves out.
     
  7. May 22, 2019 #7

    DWinMadison

    DWinMadison

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    NO Sherry! Very good stuff. I forgot to mention, I too am into the subscription thing. Wife signed me up for Dollar Shave Club a couple of years ago, so I get the same pack of razors each month, so so "surprise" factor there, but they do include a rather pithy "bathroom reader" that I enjoy looking over in my "private times." Don't know how your customer does it...other than just bad hygiene (kidding), because I go through at least a large bar a week. I have a quirky friend (sort of a hypochondriac in my opinion) to whom I gave about 4 bars of natural goat's milk soap over two years ago. Well, every time she sees me--which is often, she feels compelled to tell me that she is "still using it" -- especially to wash her hair!!! I'm thinking, "Dear Lord, I certainly hope you're not using regular bar soap on your hair ok..." I think what she is trying got say is, "I love you, but please don't foist your crappy, homemade soap my way ever again." C'est la vie.

    Daryl.
     
  8. May 22, 2019 #8

    DWinMadison

    DWinMadison

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    I actually appreciate both points of view--especially since I have a more than full-time job. I'm not launching any sort of subscription service soon. Heck...I'll be happy just to get my eCommerce site up and running. I'm just exploring and creating hopefully interesting conversation. I got off on this subject after realizing how expensive it is to mail 2 bars of soap (see the other thread). I'm exploring everything...soap, other bath products, mail order, Etsy, wholesale, craft shows. Not sure about either what I can do long-term or even want to do right now and/or to what extent my wife wants to be involved in the business as she has the most free time.

    I learn something new about soaping almost every day and love it...in every aspect. I've run a business for over 30 years...most of it as a CEO, so I more than get the macro business concepts. Also, I make really good soap and am becoming more efficient and consistent (i.e. I can make it quickly thanks to master-batching and replicate colors and patterns thanks to practice.) The problem is, I need to move some of this awesome product out of the house without giving away the farm.
     

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