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?
I already sell bath bombs at my local market and frequently got asked what was new in stock, was there anything special today, or if I could just "pop a fab selection together", so I thought 'why not offer the people the option to purchase a mystery box?'.
What attracted you to the subscription box model?
I can source new products, pack & post boxes all while my children are at school, and then become a Mum again at school pick-up time. I also love that's it giving regular/loyal customers access to limited edition and brand new products.
How did you validate your idea and test the market?
Talked to lots of people!
How did you acquire your first customers?
Facebook advertising mostly.
Did you raise any seed or investor funding to help you grow?
How long have you been running now and what are your most successful achievements and milestones so far?
My business (Mimic Gifts), actually started four years ago. Soakbox subscription is very new - launched in March 2018 and sent out four month's of boxes so far.
With the rise of new boxes launching all the time, what do you see as your USP that sets you apart from your competitors?
All my products are vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, SLS-free, paraben-free, use only biodegradable glitter and aiming for zero plastic packaging.
How does your business continue to find new and exciting products to keep your customers engaged and excited every month?
I have developed a good relationship with several artisan bath bomb makers around the UK - they are all fantastic and are continually producing some amazing bath bombs!
How large is your team? What type of roles do they have?
At the moment, it's just me! I plan to expand in the future with some employees (although I'm starting to outgrow our spare room!).
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?
All the bath bombs are handmade by artisan 'soap kitchens' - they have the expertise! Plus, all cosmetics like this, need to be fully registered on the E.U. Cosmetics portal.
What types of challenges do you face with fulfilment, delivery and customer service?
The people that make the bath bombs for me, often need to the know quantities 3-4 weeks in advance. So basically I have to guess at how many I'm going to need! Fortunately, if I over-stock, I can sell the excess at my pitch on Leighton Buzzard's Saturday market.
What do you enjoy most about running your subscription box business?
It's very satisfying packing all the boxes, ensuring they are all exactly the same!