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Subscription Boxes: This Generation's Goody Bag Fetish Keeps Shops Alive

July 29, 2016       Within Reach
Monthly Subscription
Boxes Are Hot!

Subscription boxes are trending and
keeping online shoppers glued to their
favorite hobbies and personal treats
while online providers are hitting big

TokyoTreat is a Japan snack subscription box service that
ships to anywhere in the world.

Subscripton Boxes

Have a hobby or stuff you love that makes you surf online looking for shops and markets?  Once you find that shop, chances are they offer a monthly goody bag called a subscription box where a random collection of your hobby, thingamajigs or gear--is offered for a nominal fee that can range from as low as $10 a month for three months or longer, and may scale up to  $180 a month for premium ticket items.  Bundles or subscription boxes are promo deals that allow hobbyists, food lovers, fashionistas and the like to get gifts for themselves for a good price.  A purchase does not commit them to any further offerings but if they enjoy the experience of receiving gifts they like every month, they will most likely get a long term relationship of getting both short term and long term subscription box offers whenever it suits them and online shops get a lifelong customer.

One of the most popular monthly subscription box websites
is which sells curated sets of beauty
and skincare brands.

Image credit:
From a skincare and beauty online retailer comes
The Little Black Beauty box subscription service for women.

Subscriptions and goody bag deals used to be print magazines and comic books primary bread-and-butter retail marketing push: Buy 3 magazines for the price of one and subscribe for one year at lower than the newstand price.  Remember those 80s or 90s ads in Playboy or Popular Science magazine where you could buy 5 science fiction books for the price of 1 as long as you grab a subscription to the book club service? 

Today's boom of subscription box services is just an offshoot
of past retail marketing promos by magazines and book clubs.

Pinoys may be familiar with local supermarkets offering Christmas goody baskets: a collection of treats priced lower than if you would buy each item individually. 
Remember that National Bookstore grew out of a small school supply shop in Quiapo offering goody bags of a seasonal but highly in-demand staple—pens, notebooks, envelopes and art supplies--packed as a bundle for a lower price.  It isn't a new concept and some households still have a newspapers delivered to their doorstep every day.  Subscriptions still guarantee both client and product or service provider a continuing relationship.  Today's online specialist retail hobbyist subscription business involves pre-packaging a bundle box with several items or products which a buyer would not buy individually out of his own choice but if offered as a gift to one's self, a fan of the service might sign on for a trial run and love the offer.

The so-called goody bag-subscription box contains curated products that may be limited run offers available only via bundle subscription: this is how comics and toys are now being sold better instead of the old manner where individual copies are pushed each on their own.  A bundle in a subscription box makes every month a surprise present for as low as $10 to $15, lower or higher, depending on how much premium you want.

A year of boxes is one review site of subscription box services.

The strategy has been effective not only for comics and toys but also for beauty products like goody boxes of brand name make-up kits, lipstick and face scrub, beauty soap and skin care for one bundle, home-baked goodies in another, or even fashion items.  There are even dedicated review sites like,, and that list down every available and reputable subscription box offers in the U.S. and gives users a regular look at the previous subscription boxes devlivered by any particular hobby provider.

Subscription Box Providers Make Online Retailing Hot

In the past couple of years, home-delivery in the U.S. has gotten hotter than ever for almost every online product--especially toy and video game or movie merchandise brands and even survival gear hobbyists. 

he same process is catching on even in our own country—for mundane items such as pulp romance books, second-hand books, home-baked goodies, organic produce straight from the farm, shoes, and some Filipino fetish favorites—perfumed scents, and personal beauty care products
Filipinos are becoming small scale entrepreneurs who use  social media portals to sell their STUFF to a wider market and to get immediate market presence that cannot be matched any other sales and promo tactic.  Facebook has evolved from a photo album-friends list to a social media platform for showcasing everything from nightclubs to craft maker groups to online retailing.  This change has made Facebook change some of its features to accommodate online retail via mobile or smart phones.  But in the Japan, Singapore and the U.S., dedicated product line or hobby craft subscription box services are the vogue.

In the U.S.,
Cratejoy is one bundle subscription (aka goody box) service that offers a wide variety of good stuff for a range of prices and limited time offers or whole year commitments. takes the choosing out of your troubles and sends you a box of comic book loot every month that can contain a run of any title from any U.S. publisher or several graphic novels curated for your enjoyment.  Some comic book fans are more obsessive about what goes into their comic collection but for fans who just want a gift box for friends or a casual 3 month run of comics for one' s self, the service works just fine.  If you are a hardcore fan, there are 12-month subscriptions you can avail of. sends you 10 to 12 cutesy collectors items from Korea and Japan under the kawaii theme for as low as $17 a month.  You can get anything from candy stuff to stationery, anime character doodads and trinkets to bigger merchandise--the subscription box offer is scalable for higher value good stuff from Korea and Japan for anime fans of kawaii culture.

For fandoms of any craze from comics and movies to toy lines, there is which offers a carfully curated collection of pop culture goodies for you every month--Star Wars?  Marvel Comics?  Video Game brands?  You can sate your goody fix from any of the many subscription box services mushrooming around.

Subscription Boxes Make Online Sales Work

Month to month sales online tend to be an up and down and seasonal trend.  Good sales during any one stretch may not even recur.  This is what frustrates both online hobby stores and brick-and-mortar hobby retailers who may have trouble expecting regular income from any user base or local patrons.  Unless one cultivates a loyal group of purchasers who will spend on a regular basis buying stuff off your online retail or service, the business may not last.  Subscription boxes have changed the map and led the way for every online retailer to include some sort of goody box offer for their website retail. is a healthy snack subscription box provider that offers
organic fruit and nut mixes and baked goodies.

Strangely, venture capitalist investors in the U.S are pouring big money into the online subscription box retail model—a whopping $1 billion has been invested in online retail subscription e-commerce in the past five years according to CB Insights.  Even Amazon is going for the tactic by offering subscription services for groceries and cosmetics.  

The best effect of offering bundled subscription boxes to your user base—the buyers who patronize your online product or service—create consistent sales every month.  Cash inflow that is scalable too because you may offer premium subscriptions to those who want more of your stuff and budget subscriptions for those who still like getting something nice in the mail every month from you at a lower cost.  In a regular shop, you may get a visitor visiting and maybe buying one or two items then not coming back for a while expecting your shop to be there when they need to buy stuff again. 

Sales become more regular for online and even brick-and-mortar shops using a goody bag subscription model.  Owners of hobby shops can manage inventory better by projecting monthly user subscriptions and keeping their stocks replenished accordingly.  Buyers keep happy because of the convenience of getting good stuff at fair value, and even if they use the lower end of the subscription offers, chances are they will keep coming back to buy again--something retailers can also log down on their books to anticipate stock requirements.

Cratejoy is a subscription box service site that helps people
put up their own subscription box services.

The boom in bundle subscriptions for online selling has also created several service sites, like Subbly and Cratejoy, which offer ready to use internet tools to get small retailers setting up their online subscription shops in a breeze. 
Cratejoy, which publicly launched in mid-October 2014, has signed up some 3,300 retailers, most of them small to mid-sized. It offers three service plans, ranging from $0 to $299 a month, with transaction fees between 1.25 and 3.75 percent.

Subbly is another website that offers subscription box service
tools for people who want to set up an online retail shop.

Not all clients will pay for a whole year's subscription and may only try out your online retail offers for a three month run or just a one month peek at your offer.  Online hobby specialist shops do have budget (3 month runs) and premium packages (12 months with special items included).  For most online retailers--guaranteed sales are a game changer—your cash flow becomes more stable.  Regularly changing the kinds of merchandise you include in your subacription box mix is something that hobby specialist shops must be keen on for items like toys, entertainment media, fashion items, even books so buyers and fans don't get bored.

There is a limit for expanding online sales of special goodies—you won't be the lucky online shop that sells homemade baked cupcakes to a million online subscribers for any sustained long period.   The nature of online shoppers being fickle with choice and brands--one minute spending a kaboodle on your stuff then suddenly going away for another hobby or brand choice makes it very difficult to sustain large scale operations for subscription boxes.

For buyers and hobbyists looking for the best deal, the overwhelming number of choices makes subscription boxes or online goody bag subscriptions one of the best thing to get revived these days, and online entrepreneurs with good products can source from the local maker community--artisan, handcrafter, or homebaker and support your subscription boxe service.   Both the small entrepreneur and local makers can establish themselves in today's very competitive retail jungle with the boom in subscription boxes.


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