What It's About
Three friends batch together to highlight the best of Nashville.
Words of Wisdom
The subscription models works for both physical and digital products, as well as for services. Could it work for you?
These days you can get subscription services for products from lingerie to decorative pins to succulents to single-malt scotches (and the list goes on), but the model isn’t something that was built on the back of a laptop attached by a bootstrap. Subscription publication of books dates all the way back to the 17th century. Later, a variant: Mark Twain had his canvassers travel the country with a prospectus (also called a “sales dummy”) with excerpts and illustrations from his unpublished books to tally orders and see if publishing would be profitable. Much later came along the Book of the Month club. And now, designer clothing by subscription. What’s next?
Notes from Chris
Episode 1083How can you take a hyper-local business and make it go national? You focus on the right market (that would be the local part), the right partners and vendors, and the right offer. This perfect match exists in a curated network of 300 small Nashville businesses, all of which were recruited to take part in a massively successful subscription box service … bringing in more than $2 million a year starting with just a domain and simple website, since the first orders came in before they purchased any inventory. It’s called Batch, and it came to be through the efforts of three friends, Sam Davidson, Stephen Moseley and Rob Williams. The three friends appreciated the quality of handcrafted Nashville products, from kitchen to bath to cabin, but saw there was no one-stop-shop to gobble up these goods. They decided to create a subscription-based e-commerce hustle that was booted up without needing much of a boot: again, they had almost no startup costs because they pre-sold subscriptions, so the cash was already there before needing any initial outlay. And since they came from marketing and branding backgrounds, pitching the products and designing packaging and site descriptions didn’t require any outsourced help. The “Batch” name came from their first subscription packages, which offered four Nashville-made items a month. The partners were surprised when they hit 200 subscriptions right away—and then 600 the next and 1,000 after that. One key that unlocked a bigger cash box was a subscription recipient asking about how his company could send Nashville-centric gifts—voila! The birth of the corporate gift option, which soon went from an afterthought to their primary business model. But hold that thought; let’s look more at these actual subscription boxes. Lucky recipients might get packages that include chocolates, popcorn, shortbread, toffee, coffee, pancake mix, honey, bath and body goods, a Nashville-labeled hand towel—all high-quality, all with handsome packaging, all locally produced. There are some Southern nods in the names, like the “Thanks Y’all” gift box. Looking at the range of their pleasure-producing products, it’s no wonder their website logo reads “Handcrafted Handpicked Happiness.” There’s also a Build Your Own Batch option if you simply have to have pickled asparagus with your bourbon cherries and some homemade marshmallows thrown in. The corporate options include the specific company’s branding on boxes and cards and gift wrap. Pairing that corporate component with offering the à la carte items (also a result of customer inquiries), opening a retail store stocked with the full range of Nashville’s finest handmade goods vaulted the three friends higher into the realms of multi-channel sales. That’s correct, the three partners went from subscription service to actual retail store. At some point in the process, the partners learned a key fact: 90% of purchases are gifts: recipients often end up buying something for a friend or client. “The gift that keeps on giving” really is true. Their social media efforts now focus mostly on Instagram and Facebook, mixing Nashville photos and facts and product and store photos. They have plans to improve their systems to scale, looking at replicating the Nashville model in other cities. So, if you’ve got a hankering for Hot Chicken Crackers, or maybe some artisanal Soberdough Beer Bread mix, you may want to request a box from Batch.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Batch: Learn more about Batch and their gift offerings on their website.
- What’s In the Box? Low-Carb, Low-Sugar Snacks: A CPA and Side Hustle School listener learns to start her own subscription box. In less than a year, it brings in more than $5,000/month!
- Comic Book Curator Creates Custom Crate Subscription: A Sacramento-based comic and collectibles owner sparks an interest in reading with a monthly comic book subscription box service.
- Friends Foster Korean Face Mask Frenzy: When several friends and colleagues discover the consumer craze over Korean face masks, they team up to create their own subscription box side hustle.
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