Whoever came up with the monthly subscription service is a fracking genius. One of the oldest business models in the world is starting to see new light with the rise of a new online trend. I’m talking of course about the novel idea of offering online subscriptions for things everyone needs, which is why DollarShaveClub.com is this week’s Wednesday Website We Love.
They’re starting to pop up everywhere. Did you know you can get monthly subscriptions for things like toilet paper (toiletpapervalet.com), tampons (helloflo.com), and even condoms (rubberclub.com)?
There’s also subscription services for things you don’t need (ex. Birchbox, BarkBox, Kiwi Crate) that send you random items and call them a “surprise box”…genius. “So we’re gonna send you a box of random crap every month and you’re gonna pay us.” Sounds ridiculous, but people love it. My point is that there’s a lot of room for different types of subscriptions you can offer.
But getting back to Dollar Shave Club, what makes this subscription service so popular? First off, they use comedy to sell their products. Have you seen any of their commercials? They’re pretty hilarious. Not to mention, this video on their homepage:
Secondly, they have a killer website. If you’re only store is an online store, it better be a damn good one and theirs is. Their UX is amazing. They guide you step by step through the subscription process without being text-heavy. They also utilize icons to visually explain how they work. Additionally, they have a full-width website with lots of white space, making it easy on the eyes.
So what are the benefits of starting an online monthly subscription service?
1. It Doesn’t Require a Storefront
You don’t need to pay building rent, utilities, property taxes, and other expenses associated with owning and maintaining a physical building. If your business grows substantially, you’ll probably need a fulfillment center(s) which still would be far less property to own than multiple storefronts. By the way, one of the largest businesses in the world right now doesn’t have a storefront. Can you guess who it is (Answer below)?
2. Low Startup Costs
As I mentioned, you don’t need a storefront. This saves you a ton of money right off the bat. The biggest upfront cost will be hiring a professional web developer and trust me, if you’re serious about starting a business like this, professional web development is absolutely necessary (like, I don’t know…Blueshoon maybe). When you’re dealing with the complex undertaking of eCommerce, you don’t want to mess that up. Compared to the cost of a physical store, hiring a web developer is substantially less expensive.
3. Increased Customer Reach
A storefront is only available to a limited area. An online store is available to the entire world. What sounds better to you?
4. Marketing Advantages
When you’re selling things like condoms and toilet paper, there’s a lot of room for comedy which gives niche subscription services a leg up on their marketing campaigns. Selling one type of item means there’s only one thing to market unless you offer complimentary products (ex. Dollar Shave Club’s Shave Butter). You can also slip print ads for your complimentary products into monthly packages.
Subscription services also offer the obvious advantage of continued sales with your customers month after month.
The Bottom Line
If you’re considering creating a startup like this, take a page from the Dollar Shave Club book. They started in 2011 and today are valued at $615 million. They wouldn’t be sitting pretty without their superior website and innovative marketing technique.
Answer: Amazon.com, of course. They also offer a subscription service!