This is part of uOpen’s 'Industry Insights' interview series - a valuable collection of informative and intelligent insights into how some of the UK's best-known and most-loved subscription box businesses came to be and got to where they are - all shared by the very people who made it happen...
Covering customer acquisition to fulfilment, this blog series offers a behind the scenes look at how the many moving parts of these complex, yet successful operations come together each month to satisfy the ever-growing demand of subscription box customers in the UK.
How did the idea for your subscription box come about?
It was a bit of a lightbulb moment. As a bit of a marketing geek in my previous job, I could see that the subscriptions market was a growing trend and everyone wanted to make their lives a bit easier. At the same time, I loved coffee. So why not set up a coffee subscription business? Get real people to experience amazing coffee from the comfort of their home.
What attracted you to the subscription box model?
Subscriptions are great! The thrill of receiving a parcel through the door every month seems almost old school now in the world we live in, but knowing you are going to get something unique each month keeps the anticipation high! From a business point of view, the subscription model is sustainable and means cash flow isn't ever too much of an issue either!
How did you validate your idea and test the market?
We launched Perkulatte in November 2014, by the time Christmas 2016 had passed, we had the validation we needed! Coffee subscriptions were a big hit!
How did you acquire your first customers?
Before the business launched we put together a (pretty basic) website and started taking orders immediately. At the same time, we started selling on a large gifting marketplace, which gave us brilliant exposure and got our footing on the retail market.
Did you raise any seed or investor funding to help you grow?
No. All the funds to set up the business came from our own bank accounts and savings!
How long have you been running now and what are your most successful achievements and milestones so far?
Perkulatte has now been running for coming up to 3.5 years, and during that time we've had some amazing achievements and big challenges to overcome! Fortunately, the achievements have far outweighed the challenges, and to date, when we get an order I still get goosebumps and give a squeal of excitement!
With the rise of new boxes launching all the time, what do you see as your USP that sets you apart from your competitors?
The coffee market has become quite a competitive one, so finding ways to be unique is getting tricky, but what sets us apart from most is that we create the products that not many other businesses do because they are time-consuming and fiddly!
How does your business continue to find new and exciting products to keep your customers engaged and excited every month?
Continually exploring the market, recognising changes, filling the gaps and testing our products, means we try and stay one step ahead of keeping our customers happy.
Have there been any particularly pivotal moments so far that have required you to make changes to how you operate?
We went through a significant operational change at the end of last year, which meant we had to shuffle quite a lot, but it was an exciting change, and we don't regret it at all now!
How large is your team? What type of roles do they have?
A lot smaller than most people think. There are two of us, and then we have seasonal help at Christmas time helping us pack and post all our orders!
Across all operational areas of your business, what do you manage in-house and what do you outsource to external suppliers to support you with - and why is this?
We have kept absolutely everything in-house as we wanted to make sure that everything we do reflects our brand down to the core. In time we may look to outsource certain bits, but at the moment, we're happy managing all of our operations.
What types of challenges do you face with fulfilment, delivery and customer service?
Customer service is very important to us and keeping our customers happy is key. From a fulfilment point of view, keeping it in-house means we avoid delays in fulfilment houses or the mistakes that can often occur with third parties. If mistakes are made, or there are delays in delivery, then we always let our customers know. We make sure that they are kept in the loop every step of the way.
How do you see the subscription box industry is evolving and what do you believe are going to be your biggest challenges over the next 12 months?
The subscription market is growing so fast that the key to success is ensuring you are continuing to offer something different and exciting for your customers, but it's important to recognise your competitor's strengths so that you can keep one step ahead of the game.
What do you enjoy most about running your subscription box business?
I love the flexibility of running a business, the challenge of learning new skills, the chance to meet so many suppliers and doing something that I love!
What excites you about uOpen, and how do you see the marketplace featuring in your business' future?
The launch of uOpen is exciting for Perkulatte; the chance to get our product in front of a new audience on a new marketplace, selling what we love the most.