If you know your customers need your products, but you’re still unsure how to package your goods and services into a weekly or monthly ecommerce subscription service, I’d like to show you a system — the subscription service system I created so you can increase repeat sales and automatically generate more business to free up time to do the things you love.
I choose organic fruit and vegetables because local demand was high and supply in the Hertfordshire area was low, but you can choose almost any goods including digital goods and apply the system below to suit your customers needs.
Here’s my system:
1. Choose Your Vertical
Back in Spring 2012 I was continuously upset by the lack of affordable organic fruit and vegetable varieties available in my hometown Letchworth Garden City in Hertfordshire. I was inspired by The People’s Supermarket success and after conducting detailed research, decided to set up a weekly organic fruit and veg box service that would bring better tasting and chemical free veg, to the families in our area and beyond — affordably. The kinds of questions to ask yourself at this stage is:
A. Is the market segment emerging and evolving? In Plain English: Is it getting bigger!?
B. What macro trends would sustain the long term growth of the segment? In Plain English: What forces are powering growth in your sector.
C. How much pain does the customer have that our solution addresses? How much will they happily spend on your product or service.
D. How much do buyers in the vertical talk to each other? In Plain English: By selecting a market where customers heavily interact with each other – by word of mouth and sharing your products online – will help you increase sales fast(er).
2. Find Your Clients
My goal was simple – to get 10 families to order £15 per week for a 5kg box of mixed organic fruit and Veg. This figure was based on a £100 minimum order to qualify for FREE delivery from our core organic supplier. I choose 2 suppliers to start off with. One was Choice Organics and the other was Wild Country Organics. I decided to get local 10 families signed up to a trial to start off with, because engaging friends and family and converting them to buy, was much easier logistically – I could deliver by hand – and better still easily collect the early feedback required to build a customer lead business, rather than the easy way that’s hiding behind a website and expecting people to find you 🙂
3. Source Suppliers
Far from being random choices Choice Organics was chosen specifically because of their amazing variety of organic fruit and veg grown in the UK and their and ability to deliver for free. Award winning Wild Country Organics were chosen because of their proximity to us and the amazing variety of organic produce. It’s a family run farm owned by Dr Adrian Izzard, who over the last ten years has developed the growing techniques to produce a wide range of the best tasting organic vegetables and salads. I decided to call my service Foodnation: the peoples digital co-op because of the seed funding I was awarded from Geovation the R&D arm of Ordnance Survey to initially build a working model of the website.
4. Test Assumptions
Food subscription businesses are nothing new. Organic Veg sub boxes have been around since the 80’s, but Foodnation’s USP would be more than 50% of the veg would be grown within 20 miles of our home town. It’s funny, but as you’ll see if you do you research and make assumptions like I did – that this is what NOT what people cared about, in fact they couldn’t really care less where it came from, what they cared about was:
E. PESTICIDE FREE
F. GROWN IN UK (proximity to where they lived wasn’t very important) Look where providence and price come on that list! Surprising huh? This is why building an experiment to test your assumptions is the first important step.
VARIETY RULES! Organic Graffiti Aubergines from Wild Country Organics in Cambridgeshire: Species Solanum melongena L.
New season #British #organic #aubergines #Cambridgeshire #vegporn #happyfoodwall #foodnation #likeitraw A photo posted by @loula8 on
5. Design Your Offer Foodnation’s mission was to create the closest links between the growers and the people who want to eat the freshest produce by nurturing a community of buyers that want the freshest produce for their families and sellers grow the land with respect, love and care. Foodnation delivered your order with the least C02 impact by placing customer orders with your nearest farmer. 6. Get Pre-Orders I choose organic veg because of the high nutrient, taste, variety and low pesticide factor, plus the high demand and lack of supply in the area. Demand was determined by a questionnaire sent out to families in the area who had expressed interest. Families who expressed interest were asked to pay 2 months in advance – the minimum order was £15 per week for 5kg of veg – to get the service up and running. This is a very important step and one you should action before you place and ordering wholesale, because it means you get the commitment from customers AND cash flow required to buy stock and get supplies delivered or collected upfront. The minimum commitment was indefinite with 1 month’s notice fee. Plus no payment – no delivery. If you have an existing customer list and have defined the products you want to supply to them, through deep user research, on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, the last piece of the puzzle is finding suppliers. 7. Choose your Payment Solution I choose recurring payments via Paypal’s subscription service because it’s supre easy to set up, but others I would recommend for ease of use and especially if you already have a merchant account are: Braintree, Chargify, Recurly, Stripe and Zuora. Whoop! Foodnation’s 1st delivery
My first trip into the wild! Wild Country Organics in Cambridgeshire. What a view 🙂
8. Repeat Customer Cost Less to Acquire
Let’s say you have a list of 100 customers who’ve bought from you in the past. It’s going to cost you less marketing spend to sell or up sell to existing customers who already love your products and services, rather than trying to convince new customers to buy from you. You’ll find that the sales conversion rate is also higher with repeat customers rather than new. Imagine you have already bought a great fitting dress from one designer, you’re much more likely to buy from that designer again, especially if that designer now knows your tastes, designs for your body shape and uses high quality fabrics you identify with like organic cotton jersey or real wool.
More Variety Rules! Gorgeous Gooseberries from Choice Organics.
WARNING: Not available in the supermarket
#wildcountryorganics #ilikeitraw #organic green goosberries #vegan #fruitarian #fruitporn #Letchworth A photo posted by @loula8 on
More Variety Rules! Tiger Stripped Courgettes from Wild Country Organics WARNING: Not available in the supermarket
In just a few hours a week, your subscription service will generate regular predictable revenue for life… so you’ll never have to worry about whether you can pay your bills or if your business will succeed or not.
Do you want to learn to learn the intricacies of building a subscription service? Just give me your name and email address, and you’ll get access to my private email list, including strategies and tactics I won’t share anywhere else.