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?
We wanted to supply a constant one-stop shop for bearded guys to be able to get 100% organic and natural grooming products delivered directly to their door.
What attracted you to the subscription box model?
It seemed a fairly natural thing, to be fair. Why bother driving around trying to find your products when you can have them just delivered directly to you?
How did you validate your idea and test the market?
We already had our products out there with many bearded guys, we've always received awesome feedback, so wanted to get them out to a wider audience.
How did you acquire your first customers?
Initially driven via social media - Instagram is our primary platform. We are visually-driven, and sell the product through lifestyle imagery.
Did you raise any seed or investor funding to help you grow?
No, all self-funded and organically grown.
How long have you been running now and what are your most successful achievements and milestones so far?
We've been running for six months and are now sponsors to some of the UK's main beard and moustache competitions!
With the rise of new boxes launching all the time, what do you see as your USP that sets you apart from your competitors?
We are 100% organic and natural. We supply any and everything our customers need to feed and nourish their beards, from oils to waxes.
How does your business continue to find new and exciting products to keep your customers engaged and excited every month?
We go to a lot of business shows and are continually working on new products, new scents and always looking for exciting products that we can introduce to complement our current range.
Have there been any particularly pivotal moments so far that have required you to make changes to how you operate?
We also work and tweak our recipes. With the UK shows and our name getting out more we had to get larger premises to operate from.
How large is your team? What type of roles do they have?
We are only a small team - there are currently only two of us at The Urban Gent. Zoe runs the admin, stock, website and marketing. I work on production and new product development.
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 manage everything in-house apart from the add-on sales like our laser-etched mugs, another specialist company creates these. However, the actual beard products are all made in-house.
What types of challenges do you face with fulfilment, delivery and customer service?
We make and post every day, so we like to stay on top of this. The only time we slow is when we are awaiting product like our oils to be delivered.
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?
I can see it booming as long as there is a good range of high-quality products available - stay away from the lower end and keep it unique!
What do you enjoy most about running your subscription box business?
We love what we do, and we love that our products are getting out there to a broader audience.
What excites you about uOpen, and how do you see the marketplace featuring in your business' future?
I can see it becoming a major part of our business, and means customers can get their essential kit delivered with no hassle or fuss - bonus!