6 Product Ideas for Subscription Boxes

Feb 17, 2017 by Anna Koneva, Ecwid Team
Product ideas for subscription boxes
Posted Feb 17, 2017 by Anna Koneva, Ecwid Team

What if you could get sales month over month by offering a subscription?

Many online retailers are already hopping on board with this model for that very reason. Today, you will learn more about this niche and get 6 product ideas for subscription boxes.

In your Ecwid store, you can sell a monthly subscription as a product. In order to do so, create a new product and provide the description with subscription terms.

You can add several products to offer different subscription periods, for example, a monthly, a three-month and a six-month subscription. Alternatively, you might do the same by adding Product Options to a single product.



Also read: How To Find Trending Products To Sell Online

Why Subscription Boxes Work

With data showing that the US subscription box market has grown almost 3000% in the past three years, it’s clear that retailers are onto something good.

US subscription box industry

By offering a collection of 5-10 new, different products in monthly subscription boxes, these retailers are bringing in $10-40 on average per order.

In a world where we’re all becoming more comfortable with the subscription model (think Netflix, Spotify, and online news subscriptions), it makes sense that online retailers are finding ways to make this recurring revenue stream work within their own operations.

But this begs a deeper question: Why are subscription boxes a good idea?

Subscription boxes have a few unique benefits.

They enable new product discovery through curation

When a retailer pulls together a curated collection of items, the new product discovery process is simplified. This is important because with so many options available to the modern shopper, this model allows shoppers to try a variety of different products without making a large upfront investment.

For example, rather than buying a whole box of a new type of granola bar, a subscription box service allows the shopper to try several different types of bars (along with other healthy snacks) before buying an entire box.

The element of surprise

Most boxes include unexpected elements that create a sense of anticipation and surprise for the customer. Who doesn’t want a mystery package arriving on their doorstep every month?

They make for easy gift-giving

The subscription model simplifies gift-giving by allowing shoppers to gift subscriptions to others (typically 3-month, 6-month, or year-long). Bonus: The gift keeps on giving. Rather than giving a one-and-done present, this option creates a unique experience in which each month means a new collection of surprises.

It’s guaranteed recurring revenue

For the retailer, this model is a way to boost repeat sales month over month. And while subscribers can opt-out of the subscription at any time, they have to complete the process to do so. Some shoppers would rather continue to pay the low cost of the subscription than take time out of their day and opt-out.

Who Buys Subscription Boxes?

While the subscription box model works for a variety of different types of businesses and products, one thing to keep in mind with the subscription model is that there seems to be a clear target demographic.

Data from Hitwise shows that the average subscription box buyer is a female within the 25-39 year-old age bracket (older Millennials and younger Gen Xers) with above average income and education levels. Most often, they live in urban areas, are culturally-minded, and are healthy-conscious consumers.

Subscription box demographic

The data also showed that these shoppers love a good deal, but feel online/mobile shopping is much more convenient and enjoyable than brick and mortar stores.

And how are these shoppers discovering different subscription boxes?

According to Connexity, search engines are still the largest referral source, with 34% of traffic coming through this channel on average. Blogs and social media sites are the secondary ways new customers learn about subscription box offerings, with 13.5% of referred visits coming from one of these channels in 2015. This is interesting data, as the typical e-commerce site only sees 8.4% traffic from social media on average.

Also read: 10 Trending Product Ideas and Niches in 2017

6 Subscription Box Product Ideas

Now that we understand the why, the who, and the how, let’s explore some different subscription box product ideas that could help you create a new offering (and revenue stream) for your online store.


With so many new books published each year, it can be difficult for readers to know where to begin when searching for new reads. However, with the help of a subscription box service, they can get curated selections based on different interests delivered right to their doorsteps month after month.

Book subscription boxes can be based on a variety of themes, such as:

  • Fiction/Non-fiction
  • Genre (Young Adult, Sci-fi, Bestsellers, etc.)
  • Emerging authors
  • Book theme (1960s politics, gender issues, etc.)
  • Curated reading lists from celebrities or influencers
  • Journals, zines, and indie publications
  • Hardback/limited edition books

In this example from Uppercase Box, you can see that they include an autographed young adult book, book-related items (keychain, button, art print), and the custom bag.


Parents are always looking for the best new thing for their little ones–from clothing to educational tools and beyond. You can cater to this audience of ready-to-buy shoppers by offering subscription boxes that deliver a monthly surprise for kids.

Subscription boxes for kids can focus on elements such as:

  • STEM education
  • Arts and crafts
  • Clothing
  • Gender-based toys
  • Age-appropriate toys
  • Gaming
  • Cooking

Kids subscription box

Source: Amazon

Amazon’s STEM Club (example above) is a monthly subscription box that includes hand-picked toys that focus on developing skills in science, technology, engineering, and math. Each month, they send subscribers a new, age-appropriate toy that encourages learning through play.


Statista research indicates that just within the UK, consumer spending on stationery sits around $700M per quarter. You can tap into this lucrative market by creating a subscription box that caters to these paper lovers on a recurring basis.

Think about how you can create a unique subscription box offering around:

  • Holiday cards
  • Postcards
  • Scrapbooking materials
  • Greeting cards
  • Journals and notebooks
  • Recipe boxes and cards
  • Personalized stationery

The DIY bloggers at A Beautiful Mess have created their own subscription box for stationery products called “Happy Mail”, and for $15 a month, subscribers are delivered a new batch of cards and postcards every four weeks.

Health Foods & Drinks

Global sales of health food products are estimated to reach $1 trillion in 2017, and that means major opportunity–especially within the non-perishable food and drink category of subscription boxes.

Not only does this format allow consumers to try a greater variety of your product offerings, but it helps ensure you’re consistently delivering new, relevant suggestions to shoppers who are looking for products to integrate into their daily routines.

In this realm, you might consider offering subscriptions for:

  • Organic snacks
  • Paleo snacks
  • Gluten free snacks
  • Allergy-free foods (no nuts, wheat, soy, etc.)
  • Vegan foods
  • Complete meals
  • Healthy dressings, sauces, and marinades
  • Fresh juices
  • Gourmet treats
  • Small batch brews

One great example of this executed can be seen from juicery Vitality Tap, which has a subscription service option for local delivery or pickup in which their cold-pressed juices are available on a weekly basis.


Many people drink coffee or tea throughout the day–so it’s a product they’re constantly needing to re-purchase anyway. For the shopper who’s looking to try some new types, brands, or varieties, a subscription service makes a lot of sense.

You could offer monthly boxes that include:

  • Coffee/teas from different parts of the world
  • Organic varieties
  • Various flavor themes
  • Best brews based on the season/time of year
  • Locally-sourced brands
  • Brands using sustainable farming methods

If you have an in-house coffee brand, a subscription box could just be a nice way to help your customers ensure they never run out of supply at home or at work.

Morph Coffee offers a four-week supply of their roasted beans as a subscription service so that shoppers are consistently stocked each month.

Pet Supplies

Ask any pet owner if they spoil their pets on a regular basis, and they’re likely to answer yes. However, with the help of a subscription box, those treats for furry friends can be delivered without making a trip to the local pet supply store.

You could offer subscription boxes for pets that feature:

  • Treats
  • Toys
  • Clothing items
  • Accessories
  • Training tools
  • Age-appropriate items (puppy vs. older dog)
  • Pet care products

One example: WoofWoof Box specializes in treats for dogs, and delivers differently themed boxes to subscribers each month.

Subscription Boxes: Get Creative

With this data and these ideas, now is the time to think about how you too can capitalize on the subscription box model to increase your sales for the year ahead.

This might mean partnering up with fellow retailers or launching some new products — but think about what makes the most sense for your target audience.

Also read: 11 Digital Product Ideas That Fit Almost Every Storefront

About The Author
Anna is a content creator at Ecwid. She loves big cities, pasta and Woody Allen's films.

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