How to get products for subscription boxes
dropshipping how to get products for your subscription box

How to get products for subscription boxes

Subscription boxes are a booming business, 54% of online shoppers get at least one subscription box every month. A subscription is a great next step after starting a dropshipping business. It helps merchants to retain customers and increase repeat business. Yet, a lot of brands find it hard to get products for their subscription boxes. Your subscribers often want variety and value, while products need to also have enough margin to make them profitable.

You might also be thinking “How to get products for subscription boxes?” 

Well, this guide will tell you all about it. You’ll learn about different subscription box suppliers and ways to source them. If you’re looking to add products to your subscription boxes, you’ve come to the right place.

What are subscription boxes?

Subscription boxes are bundled products that are paid for and delivered to your customers every month. They are an affordable and convenient form for shoppers to get the items they want. And it is a great way to discover new products. 

Customers can try out new brands or products before buying them at the store. But how to find the right mix of products for your subscription box? Let’s dive in.

6 places to get products for subscription boxes 

Chart showing monthly subscription box-spending in the United States 2020
Source: Statista

Finding items for subscription boxes is difficult. Especially if you’re looking for a selection to keep people excited about their subscriptions. 

But it doesn’t have to be. There are a few places to find great items that work well in a subscription box. Here are 6 places to get products for your subscription box. 

1. Amazon

Number of Amazon Sellers
Source: AmzScout

Amazon has a lot of products that can make your subscription box more exciting. From gadgets to toys, to beauty, to office supplies, there is something for everyone. It’s a great place to find new ideas.

Most marketers don’t think about Amazon when compiling their subscriptions box products. 

Amazon also offers subscription services themselves like Amazon beauty box. So you can draw product inspiration from them. These subscriptions you can find in the “subscribe and save section” on their website.

Tips for sourcing products from Amazon:

  • You can search for products based on their categories and sub-categories on Amazon’s best sellers page.
  • From a product’s selling info, you can determine what products can appeal to your subscribers. And make sure to choose products that are affordable.
  • Verify product from authentic reviewers.

2. Online Search

Most popular subscription boxes 2019
Source: Clutch

Search is a great, endless source of product ideas. Google indexes almost everything and allows you to find good products for your customers. You can filter your search to get ideas using specific search queries.

Tips

  • Search Google for your product category name in quotes, for instance “pets”. Then, add the word “subscription” after it. For instance “pets” “subscription”
  • Click on Search. Check if there are any related keywords for the product.
  • By using search operators like quotation marks, the words “or,” and “not,” you can quickly narrow your search to specific sites and remove a lot of search results that wouldn’t be interesting anyway.
  • Browse and keep a list of the products you want to get for your subscription box, possibly ordering them or samples.
  • Contact the seller or producer of the individual products.
  • If you’re working with new producers, get a dropshipping tracking tool to avoid headaches

3. Trade fairs

Trade fairs are a great way to get an idea of what’s trending in your industry. Producers and wholesalers will show up with the latest products they are introducing in the coming period and their analysis of what’s the big next thing. They give you access to a lot of vendors gathered in one place. 

Directly chatting with the representatives there, also gets you in on a personal level. And possibly some exclusive or special deals with discounts for your promotional effort. Reps love to write business and get their quota at a tradeshow or convention. It’s a way to keep your subscription box unique and trendy.

Here are some ways to find the best products at trade fairs.

Tips

  • Understand the needs of your subscribers,  so you don’t get what they won’t like.
  • Go with a gameplan of who is exhibiting and preferably plan some meetings up front. 
  • Research the trade fairs where you can find the right products.
  • It is a perfect way to form long-term partnerships with exhibitors.

4. Subscription box marketplaces like Cratejoy

Performance across purchase funnel by type of subscription ecommerce chart
Source: Ready Cloud

Cratejoy is a marketplace for businesses to sell subscription boxes. It’s also a great place to get product inspiration. You can browse all the available subscription boxes there, and get a feel for the competition. The platform has a lot of different types of products. 

Cratejoy also is a platform to launch and grow your own subscription business. They offer a lot of the necessary tools. You can build a product selection, promote and customize your branding. If you haven’t started any subscription box business yet, and you are looking to get started – this may be a way to consider being more hands-off/outsourced. 

Tips

  • You can sort products based on categories, prices, and location.
  • Reach out to the companies listing the products.

5. Local stores

Average subscription lenght and gender breakdown
Source: Ready Cloud

If you’re short of product ideas for your subscription boxes, why not include products from local stores? An inquisitive sourcer can find many unique items at local shops.  It can make your product stand out and feel more “authentic” compared to the ones offered by large companies.

Adding products from a local store to your subscription box makes it more exciting, personal and gets you the sympathy vote. And you’ll also be supporting local businesses. 

Tips

  • Use a local directory to find local stores.
  • Know your subscribers’ product preferences.
  • Seek long-term partnership with selected stores if they are a good fit.

6. Work with Vendors and Manufacturers

You can find quality and well-priced items for your subscription box business directly from manufacturers. They can give you a list of products and companies that sell what you’re looking for or possibly even source them directly from the factory.

There are many ways to promote your store and subscription boxes, so be sure the vendor allows you to add in your own (promotional) material and ship branded boxes. An insert can tell the story of your business and build relationships with subscribers.

Here are some tips for getting subscription box products from manufacturers.

Tips

  • Compile an email list of potential vendors. This list should include all the types of products that would be appropriate for your box.
  • Contact each vendor and ask them what type of pricing they have available. You can also ask for samples so you know exactly what the product is before ordering it.
  • Once you’ve contacted all the vendors, make sure to compare their prices and quality level. Then pick which company will best suit your needs.

Acquisition Price and sourcing  subscription box products


The monthly price of the subscription box is always pre-determined. And the flexibility you have in your pricing changes based on the product selection. As a business, you’ll have to consider the price of products you buy. 

Begin with the right product acquisition strategy and pricing agreements. Getting the purchase price right is the foundation of most successful subscription boxes. 

If the margin is big enough, you can use your gross profits to experiment. Offer incentives and rewards for customer acquisition, and invest in paid media. An effective product sourcing strategy weighs price and quality. 

When your products don’t meet expectations, customers won’t hesitate to cancel their subscription. Yet even more important is having enough markup to make a profit. 

3 Types of subscription box suppliers

List of subscription box trends with illustration
Source: Conjointly

Choosing the right subscription box supplier is a time-consuming task if you don’t know what to look out for. There’s a lot of confusion about what suppliers are, how they work, and which ones will be best for you. 

But delivering boxes that meet customers’ needs is key to growing your subscription business.  If you’re not sure which one would work for your company, our list will guide you on how to find subscription box suppliers. 

1. Custom Product Makers

Source: YouGov

Custom products from manufacturers help you create subscription boxes with unique products. And you get to be a part of the production process. 

You can build an unforgettable customer experience because no one else would have these products. You deliver based on consumers’ preferences and needs. So your customers can be confident in what they’re purchasing.

Tips

  • First, find out how many units of each product you will need and when you need them delivered. With custom products, especially produced far away delivery times can become quite long. 
  • Let your suppliers know when it’s time for production so they can start making your order!
  • Finally, package everything and ship them off.
  • Bonus tip: Send a post-purchase SMS to get feedback about the products. This will give you tons of insights into what to get for future boxes.

2. Ecommerce Stores

Chart showing subscription churn rates by industry
Source: Recurly

Ecommerce stores are a great way to get subscription boxes for your customers. It is easy to find what you want because of the search function on e-commerce platforms. 

This allows users to browse items by category or by brand name. And it’s easier to look for specific boxes. Ecommerce sites provide information about each product including price, size, weight, and availability.

3. Bulk distributors/wholesalers

Wholesalers allow you to meet the demands of your customers by filling your subscription boxes in bulk. This makes your subscription boxes affordable. 

Buying in wholesale results in better-quality products at low prices. But, they are best for businesses with a large volume of subscriptions.

Free vs. paid subscription box products

Some merchants have built subscription boxes with free goods. Manufacturers are often willing to give you free samples for introducing new products to consumers or to reach new markets.

There are also downsides to the free product model. You must partner with a series of manufacturers who see the benefits of giving free products each month. 

When your subscription box providers don’t get paid, it’s easy for them to give less priority to get your item. One innovative company went around it and created wholesale subscription boxes. This includes trade show demonstration samples in a box for retailers. 

Conclusion: How to get products for your subscription boxes?

To get products that fit your subscription boxes, consider what type of product would work best. What if my customers crave specific brands? Find out which ones they like so you can curate. 

In addition to sourcing, sampling, and getting deals inspired by your trend research, you could make the items yourself or buy them wholesale from a company that specializes in this niche. 

We hope our guide answers any questions you have about getting products for your subscription boxes.

4 most common questions about product sourcing

How do I get my brand in a subscription box?

The traditional way is to reach out to the box provider and simply request that your products be in a variety of boxes – then see which one is interested. Send your information to companies and see if they would like to work with you. Alternatively, you can collaborate with other brands that are often in these boxes or look in subscription box marketplaces.

How do I start a subscription service?

You need to come up with a name, create a website and social media profiles. And set up social media shopping. Then start crafting the story of your service. Explain what the idea is, why you started it in the first place, and how it works. Then, build your email list. The list should include people interested in what you’re offering. If you are starting from zero with no current audience, be sure to validate your box offer, getting the first 50 people to sign up and do market research is a great way to validate the need. 

Can I resell products in a subscription box?

Yes, you can resell products in a subscription box. Consumers might be inclined to do so especially if part of their offering isn’t well fit for them or they get it too often to use it themselves. Another reason for your customers to re-sell subscription box items is when there is a huge price difference between single purchases and a subscription. So be aware that some of your products might end up on the secondary market. 

How do I cancel my product subscription box?

You can find instructions on how to cancel your subscription from the website of the company. Often customer service questions related to canceling a subscription can be in the help section. Some companies have this in their FAQs or contact pages. 

Join the discussion

Menu

Please note

This is a widgetized sidebar area and you can place any widget here, as you would with the classic WordPress sidebar.