eCommerce Reviews

Cratejoy Review: How to Create Your Own Subscription Box Business

Are you thinking about creating your own subscription box eCommerce business? Createjoy could be the platform for you - Here's our Review with Pros & Cons.
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Subscription boxes are all the rage these days. Whether it’s a monthly delivery of assorted craft beers, socks, or flavoured teas – there’s likely a subscription box out there.

With that said, have you ever thought about venturing into the weird and wondering world of subscription boxes yourself? If so, it might be worth checking out Cratejoy.

The online platform is arguably the Amazon of subscription box services. Users simply head over to the platform, search for the type of item they are interested in, and hopefully – they’ll sign up to your monthly delivery services.

Fancy finding out how Cratejoy actually works, and whether or not the platform is right for you? Here we discuss the ins and outs becoming a subscription seller at Cratejoy – covering key metrics such as fees, deliveries, branding, and more.

Visit Cratejoy

What is Cratejoy?

Launched in 2014, Cratejoy is an online subscription box platform that strives to match businesses with paying customers. For those unaware, a subscription box is a set of items that are delivered to your door each and every month. This could be anything from a selection of wines to funky underwear.

The key point is that although the type of items that you receive each month remains constant, each delivery will come with a new twist. For example, while in month one you might receive six miniature bottles of Italian wine, the next month the wine might come from New Zealand.

Cratejoy Homepage for Sellers
Cratejoy Homepage for Sellers

The overarching USP is that consumers love receiving something new in the post each month. This is why subscription box services have become so popular in recent years and this – the reason that Cratejoy created its platform.

In a nutshell, anyone that wishes to create their own subscription service can do so via the Cratejoy marketplace. Similarly, interested consumers can head over to the platform, search for the item they are interested in, and enter into a new subscription.

With this in mind, the Cratejoy marketplace is essentially split into two. You have one side of the platform that is catered to businesses that wish to sell their subscriptions, and then the other side that caters directly to the consumer.

How Does Cratejoy Work for Customers?

Here’s a general overview of how Cratejoy works from the perspective of customers.

Choosing an Item

If you’re interested in signing up for a subscription box, the process couldn’t be easier at Cratejoy. First and foremost, customers select a category that they are interested in.

This will help narrow down the search if they don’t have something specific in mind. If they do, the customer can use the search box. Categories include everything from food and beverage, gaming, books, self-care, and novelty gifts.

As the customer is browsing the many boxes at the platform, they’ll get to see the price of the subscription per month, the average rating, and how many people have left feedback.

Once they see a subscription box that they like the look of, the customer clicks on it to bring up more information.

Cratejoy example box for buyers
Cratejoy example box for buyers

They’ll then get to see a range of metrics to help them decide whether they should sign up for the subscription box. This includes a full description of what they actually get each month, and the different pricing models (there are upgrades which cost more).

Most importantly, they’ll get to read customer reviews. This ensures that sellers up-the-ante in the quality department, as a single bad review could be detrimental for their business.

Ordering

Once the customer is ready to start a new subscription box service, they’ll need to quickly open an account. They simply need to provide some personal information so that the seller knows where to send the item. They’ll then need to pay for the first month’s subscription. After that, they will receive a new box every month until they decide to cancel the subscription.

How Does Cratejoy Work for Sellers?

If you’re interested in using Cratejoy as a seller, there is a lot to learn before you get started. With this in mind, here we provide a full breakdown of what you need to know.

Choosing a Product

Your first port of call is to determine the type of subscription boxes that you wish to sell at Cratejoy. With more than 30,000 customers using the site each and every day, there really is no limit to the type of subscription service box that you can market.

For example, those involved in the gourmet coffee space often dive into other areas like hot chocolate or tea. In doing so, it gives you the best chance possible of marketing your products to as many people as possible.

To give you an idea of the main categories hosted at Cratejoy, check out the list below.

  • Gifts
  • Kids
  • Men
  • Women
  • Beauty
  • Books
  • Food and Beverage
  • Geek and Gaming
  • Fitness
  • Art and Culture
  • Pets
  • Home
  • Novelty

Have a product that doesn’t fit within any of the above categories? Don’t worry, as you’ll simply fall within the ‘other’ category. This just means that users will need to be searching for your specific product, as opposed to finding you in one of the respective categories listed above.

Subscription Box CRM
Subscription Box CRM

Customizing Your Subscription Service

Once you have assessed the type of subscription box you wish to market, you then need to think about the fundamentals. Much like in the case of eBay, you will need to think of a stand-out title and headline for your subscription box, as well as a fitting picture. The good news is that Cratejoy offers a simple, clean and highly intuitive dashboard that makes the listing process super-easy.

When it comes to pricing, you are in full control of what you charge. Most importantly, Cratejoy allows you to fully customize the subscription timeframe. For example, you can allow customers to set their own delivery dates so that it works for them. This might be required in the event that they get paid on the last working day of each month – meaning that they need a bit of flexibility in when the payment is taken.

The sellers dashboard
The sellers dashboard

You can also install customer discounts and voucher codes, which is a great way of attracting new subscribers to your business. For example, let’s say that you want to charge $30 per month for your craft beer subscription service. In order to attract new customers and showcase your product and service, it might be wise to offer a 50% discount for the first month. You would be surprised just how effective this is for sellers at Cratejoy.

An additional marketing ploy that we often come across at the site is a free product on the first order. For example, those involved in the coffee, hot chocolate, and tea categories will often provide a free mug on the first delivery. Shrewd sellers at Cratejoy go one step further by getting the mug personalized with the company logo and name.

Sure, it might be a gamble in the sense you will be required to make a slight loss in the first month, and there is always the chance that the customer doesn’t renew the subscription. But, if you’re super-confident in what you are selling, you might just find that the customer remains on the books in the long run.

Orders

Once a customer comes across your product (we discuss marketing later) and pays for a subscription, you will then receive a notification from Cratejoy outlining the details. You will then be responsible for shipping the box directly to the customer.

With this in mind, it’s crucial that you figure out the costs associated with shipping the box, as this is likely to have a major say on your bottom line. Cratejoy aims to make the process easier by giving you estimated shipping costs – based on the product you are selling.

It’s also important to ensure the customer receives the box on time, not least because ratings and reviews at the platform can be the difference between you getting lots of new subscribers, or none at all.

Pricing: How Much Does it Cost to Sell at Cratejoy

You will, of course, need to pay a fee to use the platform. There are three plans available – and the one that you opt for will need to mirror the number of sales and transactions that you envisage.

Sell on the Marketplace Only – $0 per Month

The basic plan allows you to sell your subscription boxes on the Cratejoy platform. You will still benefit from the website’s 30,000 daily customer views, and you can fully customize your subscribers’ experience. You are also able to accept payment in more than 138 currencies and have the capacity to work with third-party affiliates.

Although the basic plan will cost you nothing per month in subscription fees, transaction costs are still high. At the forefront of this is a 10% fee for having your subscription service listed on the marketplace, alongside a 1.25% + $0.10 transaction fee on each and every sale that you make.

As a seller, you’ll know first-hand just how expensive this is, as the fee is based on sales as opposed to costs.

Cratejoy Pricing Plans
Cratejoy Pricing Plans

Checkout Only – $19 per Month

The Checkout Only plan costs $19 per month. This particular plan allows you to use the Cratejoy checkout and subscription management service. Every time a customer places an order, you will be subject to a 1.25% + $0.10 fee.

At first, it appears that the Check Out plan allows you to avoid the 10% marketplace fee that is charged in a fee-free plan. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Crucially, you need to pay a 10% sales fee if you wish to have your subscription box listed in the main marketplace.

Without being listed on the marketplace, you won’t have your box put in front of any of Cratejoy’s 4 million monthly visitors. As such, the 10% fee is unavoidable.

All-in-One – $39 per Month

The most expensive plan available at Cratejoy is the All-in-One option, which costs $39 per month. Before we delve into the plan’s features, it is important to note that even at $39 per month, you won’t be able to avoid the 10% transaction fee for being listed on the main marketplace.

Again, without having your box listed, customers simply won’t be able to find you. You will still need to pay the + 1.25% + $0.10 transaction fee on this plan., too. With that said, the All-in-One plan does come with your own custom website, alongside fully responsive web templates.

This allows you to take your subscription box business to the next level, as you’ll be able to attract clients from outside of the Cratejoy platform. You will also have access to a number of business solutions, such as advanced shipping features and multiple mobile app integrations.

Ultimately, when you take the fees associated with the actual product, box, packaging, and shipping into account – and then throw in the sales transaction fee, this really doesn’t leave you with much of a mark-up. As such, Createjoy is all about scaling. In other words, there is still a lot of money to be made at the platform – but, this is on the proviso that you can attract and retain a significant number of customers.

Additional Features

Cratejoy does come with a significant number of features – some paid and some included in your respective plan, that allows you to take your subscription business to the next level.

This includes:

Advanced Analytics and Tools

Cratejoy allows you to view and analyze your subscription service statistics – which is crucial in assessing what is and isn’t working, and crucially – whether your business is viable.

  • Subscription KPIs: You can assess important metrics from within your account dashboard in the form of KPIs. This includes everything from conversion rates, churn, cancellation analytics, and more.
  • Cash Flow Reports: Cratejoy makes the process of managing your cash flow levels a seamless task. For example, the platform can provide estimates on how much money you need to be making each month to remain viable. You can generate this information instantly via an on-screen report.
  • Export Data: If you have an external reporting system that you like to use, Cratejoy allows you to export data via a CSV file. This means that you can analyze data on popular programs like Microsoft Excel.
  • Customizable Coupons: Coupons are a great tool to attract new customers to your subscription box service. You can create a unique code for a single customer, or thousands at the click of a button. Either way, you will have a full birds-eye view of who uses your discount coupon codes, subsequently allowing you to keep track of how successful a particular marketing campaign is.
  • Automated Shipping and Tax Estimates: The Cratejoy system can estimate how much the customer should pay in shipping and taxes – based on their location. It’s well worth switching this feature on as it will ensure you are charging the right amount, as opposed to having a one-size-fits-all price.

Referral Campaign

Cratejoy allows you to create custom referral campaigns to help drive sales. This works like a refer-a-friend program, which you can add into your checkout and customer profile pages. You can also add referral campaigns to emails and social media platforms.

The specific promotion can be anything from a free month to a 50% discount. To complement the referral campaign, Cratejoys offers in-depth insights so that you can assess which channels are converting the best.

Subscriber Tools

The Cratejoy central dashboard allows your subscribers to fully manage their own accounts. For example, if the customer wants to change their subscription dates or cancel a plan, they can do this without needing to speak with you. If a subscriber needs to change their payment information or shipping address, this can also be actioned by the customer.

Subscriber Tools
Subscriber Tools

This allows you to concentrate on your business, as opposed to worrying about ad-hoc tasks like customer support. If a customer does get in touch, you can view everything related to the subscriber – such as their order history, shipping information, and any specific notes that you have added to the account.

Skip a Renewal

A handy feature offered to Cratejoy customers is the ability to skip a renewal. For example, let’s say that the customer is planning to take a vacation. Ordinarily, they might be inclined to cancel your subscription service as they won’t be at home to receive it. Although this might have good intentions to renew it when they return home, this might not be the case at all.

As such, Cratejoy gives them the option of skipping a monthly delivery at the click of a button. This is good for you as a seller, as it’s far more likely that the individual will remain a paying customer.

eCommerce

A number of eCommerce tools are offered by Cratejoy to help enhance your sales numbers.

  • One-Time Orders: One-time orders are great for boosting revenues, as you get to offer specific up-sells. For example, let’s say that you offer a craft beer subscription service that costs $25 per month. What you might decide to do is offer a one-time upgrade for a special beer glass with your logo on the front. You can combine this with a unique voucher so that the customer gets a discount.
  • Multiple Users: As and when your subscription box business begins to scale, Cratejoy allows you to add colleagues or employees to your account. You can even set specific permissions based on the individual’s role. For example, if you’re looking to give access to a customer support agent, you can ensure that the only access they have is responding to messages.
  • Customized Emails: If you have a database of email addresses, Cratejoy allows you to create custom campaigns. This could be anything from special offers and one-time discount codes, information on new products, or a welcome email when a new customer signs up. Either way, the email template comes pre-packaged, so you simply need to write out the fundamentals.

Customer Support

A major pit-fall of the Cratejoy platform is its customer support department. Firstly, there is no telephone support or live chat facility, so everything needs to go through a cumbersome support ticket process. But, before you get to the respective form, you will need to navigate your way through the FAQ/knowledge base section.

As such, you need to enter the nature of your issue, and then scroll down to click on the customer support button. Once you do, you will then need to raise a ticket. Baring in mind that Cratejoy could one day be your main source of income, it is somewhat disappointing that customer support is lacking.

The Verdict – Is Cratejoy Right for you?

In summary, Cratejoy certainly has its good and bad points. In terms of the positives, the platform allows you to sell virtually any type of subscription box service. Whether it’s food and beverage, novelty gifts, or World War 2 memorabilia, as long as it’s legal and ethical – Cratejoy supports it.

Most importantly, Cratejoy claims to be home to more than 4 million visitors per month. While this doesn’t necessarily translate into paying customers, it is a significant number of potential subscribers that you could be attracting to your business.

We also like several of the features that the platform offers to help grow your customer base. For example, you can easily set up one-time offers or promotional codes, and the main dashboard offers useful insights, reports, and market analytics.

On the flip side, some would argue that the pricing structure employed by Cratejoy is somewhat expensive. Even if you opt for the $39 per month plan, you will still need to pay 10% to gain access to the marketplace, plus 1.25% for each and every subscription that you sell. As this is based on revenue as opposed to cost of sales, this can make all the difference.

Ultimately, Cratejoy is a great option to take your subscription box business to the next level – you just need to make sure that the costs work for you!

Visit Cratejoy

Cratejoy

8.6

Features

9.0/10

Price

8.0/10

Support

9.0/10

Ease of Use

8.0/10

Design

9.0/10

Pros

  • Free Option Available
  • Excellent Design & UI
  • Create your Own Website
  • Marketplace for Extra Visibility
  • Easy Subscription & Billing Handling

Cons

  • Need the Top Plan for Own Website
  • High Fees on Free Plan

Kane holds a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting and Finance, a Master's Degree in Financial Investigation and he is currently engaged in a Doctorate - researching financial crime in the virtual economy. With a keen passion for research, he currently writes for a variety of publications within the Financial and Technology industries. kane@circlo.io

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