Samples and subscription boxes are a key consumer trend around the globe. Sales come from curated subscription boxes and dollar or value shops inside mass retailers. Customers are increasingly attracted to the value of trying things in small, sample-sized portions. Customers also want to buy trendy goods in small doses. Here’s how you can participate with your store and create a new profit center. 

Toe in the water:

First, focus on what your customers already value in your store and your brand promise. Pivot off that perspective with products that extend the promise in collections of product that fit with your brand. Ask vendors for a sample program and create a value endcap in your shop to highlight the new program.

Or take your sample and value section to a new area by highlighting low priced trend-right goods. Keep price points low by selling small quantity packages to make it easy for customers make a purchase decision. Trends are difficult to forecast, so make sure to purchase small quantities and a few items at first. A single color palette like metallic copper, teal and cream can be impactful with just a few SKU’s on an endcap. Consider collecting products already in your assortment to create a trendy endcap. Your goal is to create a low priced assortment that is attractive and impulsive.

These are not NEED items – they are WANT items. So merchandise them in a high visibility area. The strategy is to sell these to customers who are already in your store for their WANT items.  These are not traffic drivers – so they do not require marketing outside the store. They are impulse, convenience items that need an attractive assortment, display and pricing to be added on to customer transactions.

Try before You Buy:

If you can give this emerging trend more attention and use it to drive more ongoing sales in your store, consider the “try before you buy” option with sampling. Create packs of products for a low price. Then refund the purchase price when the customer returns to purchase a full-sized item. Turn to your vendors and ask for sample size items to test the waters. If sales justify it, the product could continue as a regularly replenished item. Talk with your vendors about the long-term sales increase they could achieve by helping to underwrite samples to your customers.

Such value offers can help draw customers to your store. They make good candidates for outside marketing to drive traffic to your store.

All In:

Extend samples and trends to attract your customer base by creating a subscription box. From pet toys to cosmetics to socks – subscription boxes are exploding in the online channel.

You will need to focus resources to create your subscription program. It will extend outside of your normal range within a few cycles. Decide if you will market your subscription boxes as either a monthly “present to myself” or a thoughtful gift for someone else. If you select the trend route, create a seasonal box from products that support a specific fashion trend (earthy colors, glitter, metallics, world maps, cork, etc) in each box. The point is that you must position your products to fulfill a specific promise and then deliver on that promise each month. Across the globe, there are subscription boxes for ethnic haircare products, Nordic design products, organic salad dressings, natural cleaning products and jigsaw puzzles. There is nearly no niche that is too small – the key is using the internet and social media to reach your target audience.

To reach your intended audience, subscription boxes are usually tied to your online store front. So make sure you have a landing page on your website exclusively for your new subscription box. Then place targeted ads that will reach the exact customers you want using social media. Customers pay a monthly amount (automatically charged to a credit card each month or each quarter) to receive a curated box of products that fulfill a specific promise. Your investment is creating a relationship with the right vendors, packaging the boxes and shipping them each month. Ship a half dozen each time period to key influencers (social or traditional media personalities with a large following) to expand awareness and drive more sales. These also make great introductory gifts to large commercial sales prospects.

As you look to keep up with the times, consider how providing an exciting new range of sample-sized products could make your online and brick and mortar store more exciting to shop and drive more profits.

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