Starting a Subscription Service: Monthly Coffee Delivery
Starting a subscription service can be a great way to ensure a steady flow of income on a monthly basis. Subscription boxes are becoming really popular, and there is just about every type of product imaginable to be found in them. From snacks, to shaving supplies, to makeup, to wine, people are looking forward to whatever their box brings them when they open their mail.
There are two main kinds of subscriptions. They are typically either a mystery box where the buyer doesn’t know exactly what they’re getting, or they do know what they’re getting and they need it on a monthly (or weekly) basis. Both are viable options, and it is up to you to decide what is the best way to sell your particular items.
If you’re looking for a more general how-to on subscription services, click here.
Are you thinking you want to create a subscription box service but you don’t know where to start? Let me make a suggestion: coffee.
Coffee and caffeine in general is essential to the lives of many people. How many people do you know (perhaps even yourself) who cannot function in the morning without first having a cup of joe? It’s probably a lot of people. This wouldn’t be surprising because about 83% of adults drink coffee.
The average cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine, which means the average coffee drinker has about 3-4 cups a day. Overall, it’s an important beverage for a large amount of people.
The appeal of coffee isn’t just about caffeine addiction, though. It’s a social drink, there are many ways to make and serve it, and it can taste vastly different depending on the type of bean used. With all this in mind, coffee could be a perfect product to base a subscription box off of.
Variety is Important
When choosing a category to use in a subscription box, you should consider the product and how many variations of it you can use. Coffee makes for a good choice, because many people need it on a regular basis but you can also introduce them to new kinds and flavors.
Gourmet coffee could be a great way to get people interested in new types of coffee so that they might buy larger amounts from you. There are typical flavors that most consumers have had and enjoyed like french vanilla and hazelnut. However, you could introduce them to something new in a subscription box like chocolate and sea salt, or a chai cold brew.
You certainly don’t have to stick with plain old coffee. You could use latte mixes, espresso beans, or single serve cups. There are so many possibilities.
What will Actually Go into the Box?
Obviously, the main focus of your subscription box will be the coffee itself. From there you have to decide what the purpose of the box will be.
Do you just want your customers to try new types of coffee from your existing store so that they might buy more? Do you want to supply people with a few week’s worth of coffee for their own convenience? Or maybe you want a surprise aspect where some items in the box are something other than coffee? You have to answer these questions before you can figure out exactly what kind of subscription box you’re offering.
When someone subscribes to your box, you will need to know what method they’ll be making their coffee with. Some people will only want to use ground coffee with filters, while others might want whole beans to grind themselves. Still others might use a Keurig with single serve cups.
To avoid getting complaints from your customers who can’t use every product you can offer, you should ask them a few questions about their preferred way of making coffee. It could be as simple as a one-question questionnaire for them to select all that apply (ground coffee, whole beans, or single-serve). This will be crucial in delivering useful products to your customers.
Here are some products that could make a good addition to a coffee-themed subscription box.
Marley Coffee is a good example of a unique product for you to include. It’s organic, which consumers love to see on any type of product. The packaging is very sleek and cool, adding to its feel of luxury. It’s a ground coffee, so chances are that most people will be able to use it in their household coffee machines. More importantly, though, is its distinct flavor. It has hints of floral, berries, and spice.
A coffee like this is not the first thing to come to someone’s mind when they want to buy coffee. Some people might not want to buy a whole bag of it themselves if they feared they wouldn’t like it. However, if they receive it in a subscription box, they knew they were signing up for a random selection. Chances are, they could take a liking to it and want to buy it again.
Trying new products is the fun of a subscription box, so there’s no harm in taking chances with some out-of-the-box products.
Kicking Horse Coffee
Kicking Horse Coffee is known for their smooth, rich brews with enough caffeine to kick you into gear every morning. They have a variety of different flavors that come in both whole beans and ground coffee. They’re both organic and fair trade which makes them a great choice for quality and ethics.
This particular flavor, “454 Horse Power,” is one of their more popular ones. They say that it has hints of sweet tobacco with a black licorice finish. It makes for a unique blend that you wouldn’t find elsewhere.
With a slogan like “Wake Up & Kick Ass,” it’s hard not to appreciate the brand’s charm. Finding fun and interesting brands like this will attract people to try out your subscription box and keep them subscribed for a while.
Organic Coffee Co.
Keurigs and other single-serve coffee machines are becoming the preferred coffee maker for small households. They’re easy and convenient, and the cost of that makes them a little pricier. People are still willing to pay a little more, though, if it means they can make themselves one cup at a time and faster.
There are tons of different kinds of single-serve cups, but these ones by the Organic Coffee Company are handy because they are also 97% biodegradable. The waste from typical k-cups can really add up for coffee drinkers who have multiple cups a day. Since these can be composted, customers can feel better knowing that they aren’t being wasteful.
Items Other than Coffee
To make a subscription box more interesting, you can add items that aren’t coffee but are still related to it. Things like creamers, filters, sugar, or even decorative mugs can be good options. These are items that people may not have needed or expected, but they still like to see included in their box. In a way, they might be viewed as bonus items since they are getting more than what’s expected.
Here are a couple options for “bonus” items.
Califia Farms has a variety of flavors in coffee creamer that could be an interesting addition to a subscription box. They’re all low-calorie and made from almond milk, so even people who are lactose intolerant could consume it. Even if people can have dairy, introducing them to a new product like this could change their perspective.
If You Care
Coffee filters doesn’t sound like that most exciting thing to find in your monthly subscription box. However, they are necessary to make coffee and it’s the kind of simple product that you can often forget while in the grocery store.
You can make them a little more interesting by giving people filters like these by If You Care. They’re unbleached, chlorine-free, and compostable, which makes them the best kind of filters you can possibly get. If your customers are the type that want fair trade and organic coffee, then they will also like these eco-friendly filters.
The Logistics of a Subscription Service
Hopefully now you have an idea of what products you want to include in the boxes you’ll send out. However, there are more things you need to consider before launching your service.
As mentioned earlier, you need to know what type of coffee to send out to individuals. You’ll need a way to gather that information and store it. You’ll also need to have people agree to regular automatic payments, put a return policy in place, among other important aspects.
If you made your online store on a site like WordPress, then there are plenty of plugins for you to download to make the process much easier. Here are a few tools to help you get started.
WPForms is a plugin for WordPress that allows you to create forms for your customers to fill out. This can be helpful in getting their coffee preferences, and for agreement forms in terms of payment and return policies. They have templates to choose from if you’re not sure what should go into a form. You can also create your own from scratch so that you can make sure it fits your needs.
Subscription Boxer is an extremely helpful plugin that takes care of basically everything dealing with having a subscription service. It lets your customers make an account, manage their payment options, and it can store their information for you. It’s fairly easy to customize, so you can carry on your subscription site just as you want to but without all the stress of maintaining it all yourself.
Once you have your programs set up and the products you want to send, the only thing left to do is launch your service and start getting customers. Whether you’re selling fair trade coffee or gourmet coffee, you’re sure to get some interest from the caffeine addicts of the world.
Make sure to create a unique experience with new and interesting products that people wouldn’t think to get themselves. Introducing customers to different products from what their used to is really what subscription boxes are all about. That’s what’s exciting about subscribing to a curated box.
Learn more about organic products to sell online.