In the past, selling direct to consumers usually included a lot of hours, expensive retail and for some a combination of both. In the new environment when you can sell direct you have options. You can set up your own website and e-commerce platform, you can use a third party like Amazon or you can implement some of the other tactics like subscription boxes or promoting to your own list. These strategies can be very effective when they are done right.
The subscription model has a number of advantages including:
1) Your products are in front of consumers are regular intervals like monthly. This can be difficult to achieve in retail. It can also lead to other purchases through the year when they like the items in the subscription box.
2) Price is not easy to determine. Products are often bundled and there is usually one up front fee or a monthly fee that includes shipping. This means it is not the primary reason to buy.
3) When you include your product in a ‘bundled’ subscription box it can be like a paid demo. The company creating the subscription box pays you for a large number of products they insert into their boxes. They do the work to sell the boxes and fulfill orders. Carolyn from Duckish mentioned this strategy works well for her skin care products. Consumers try to products in the subscription box then order more, which is great.
4) You get money up front and then send orders out through out the year. It is always a good thing when you can make one sale but really sell multiple products.
5) Some popular products can be a draw and it is a chance to introduce new items to a customer who has already committed. New products or line extensions can generate feedback to help you decide which items are the winners.
6) You can build your online community and solicit feedback from consumers you have a relationship with. Consumers are more loyal when they have are asked for input. You also have the chance to get them to buy again which does not always happen at retail.
Check out the following subscription examples:
Afishionado in Halifax offer 3 different monthly subscription boxes. Consumers receive their box of fish on the 27th of the month. This is similar to community supported agriculture (CSA) that we see in agriculture. A producer will include their own products and perhaps some from others to deliver the value each month or in some cases weekly. The box will contain what is available and be a surprise.
There are many other examples where the contents are selected in advance and consumers will know what is coming. These are popular gift items. In the past people would think of a magazine subscription as the gift that arrives every month but that has been replaced.
If you want to see the array of options check out:
You will find almost anything in a subscription box complete with reviews.
Join us on Wednesday May 27 for our next Recipe for Success, presented by FCC when Carolyn Crewe from Duckish will be back to share her insights into the world of subscription boxes. They have a strategy for these to help build their business. As CEO and Co-Founder of Duckish Natural Skin Care, a delightful all-natural bath, body and baby care brand based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Carolyn has learned a lot about navigating both the e-commerce and brick-and-mortar business landscape in the past few years. Duckish has grown from a part-time business to a thriving e-commerce brand with national distribution and products on the shelves of over 125 stores, including Whole Foods Ontario, in the last 4 years.
I have received many comments about how much people have appreciated the information they have learned from Carolyn. Join us Wednesday at 2 pm Atlantic (1 pm Eastern)
May 27- Exploring other online options like subscription models
We do see other options for bundling products online. These have become even more popular recently as many stores are closed and consumers have been staying very close to home. From the comfort of their couch they could send something to someone who is having an occasion like a birthday or just needs a boost during these challenging times.
You can find many examples, especially with food items. You can not drive to PEI right now but you can order a $99 box that includes Cows cheese and chips, lobster and even a potato. PEI in a box is interesting in that they include links to videos with preparation instructions for a classic PEI lobster roll.
Last week during our Recipe for Success I mentioned the shift Culinary Adventure had made in their business model from tours to boxes. You can see two examples here of their boxes which apparently sell out in minutes.
Believe it or not you do have other options to sell online when you build your own community. This is the ‘list’ model where you create and nurture a list of email addresses where you deliver a combination of information, value and sometimes special offers. Thank you for being on the SKUFood list! Since the onset of the pandemic we have seen more being sold through online lists.
All of these options can be exciting; they can also be a huge challenge and use a lot of resources. To help you figure out how to build the best Internet marketing plan for your food or beverage business our Recipe for Success, presented by FCC, in June will be dedicated to Internet marketing. Carolyn from Duckish has shared so much about selling online. Now we will explore how you can get the word out there and build relationships with customers.
If you are like me a lot of this can be a challenge. This will be focused on food and beverage and designed to help you get it done. Join us for this special 4 part series presented by FCC:
June 3 Building the Foundation – We will explore search engine optimization, Google analytics and Google ad words.
June 10 Creating your community – How to build an effective online community that will want to buy from you.
June 17 Social media – We will discuss how to promote your business on social media through posts and ads.
June 24 Influencers – More and more people buy because someone tells them it is a good decision. Influencers do just that, they influence people to buy.
We have our SKUFood Recipe for Success, presented by FCC about internet marketing on Wednesdays in June. You can register here:
If you had done the work in advance to build your online community it would have paid off in recent weeks and months as consumers preferred to shop at home.
One example I see in my inbox regularly is from Bishop’s Cellar in Halifax and I would admit to taking advantage of their offer from time to time. Given the line up of 36 people outside the local liquor store on Friday when I drive by I like the option of shopping from home. Here is an example of their offering.
As our SKUFood model continues to change. I am very excited to be hosting a session for Learnsphere on Tuesday May 26 at 2 pm Atlantic. I met so many great people in the food industry in the Supply Chain 1-2-3 program so I hope to see you there. This session is for processors to help them understand how they can forecast sales in the new environment. This is the second in a 3 part series. You can find more information here:
At SKUFood we have changed our model to address the changing priorities of producers and processors in the food industry. All of those great conferences and events are not happening so I will not be able to travel across the country with my shopping cart. I will miss those events but we are making changes to allow us to deliver virtually. If you would like more information about that just send me an email at Peter@SKUFood.com or give me a call at (902) 489-2900. There are many great opportunities to interact virtually with your audience.
We made the decision to make our SKUFood content available online too. It was/is a lot of work and success does not come overnight. In our case the product is information, processes to help you deliver better results and a community of people in the food industry.
We are also doing all of our consulting and coaching online. With the technology available now we can talk while you are wherever you want to be. It takes less time and you can be very focused and effective from your own chair. If you have a challenge with a customer or need some advice just send me an email at Peter@SKUFood.com or give me a call at (902) 489-2900. There are many great opportunities to interact virtually with your audience.