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As we all know, starting a business is one of the best ways to make money.
The only problem is that if you don’t have a lot of cash or a background in business, launching a successful home-based business can seem too difficult a feat— but it doesn’t have to be.
That’s why today we’re going to be reviewing Cratejoy, an online marketplace and e-commerce platform that makes it simple and easy for budding entrepreneurs to launch their own subscription box business.
Want to know more? Then read on and let’s get into the details.
What Is Cratejoy?
Cratejoy is an Austin-based subscription box company that was founded back in 2014 by Alex Morse and Amir Elaguizy.
If you haven’t heard of subscription boxes before, they’re basically boxes of goodies that are delivered to your door every month.
The contents change from month-to-month, but there’s usually an overarching ‘theme’. For example, a ‘world snacks’ subscription box might have snacks from Mexico one month, and Sweden the next. They make great gifts too!
Cratejoy functions kind of as 2 separate businesses— two ‘strands’ if you will. It’s both:
- An online subscription box marketplace (for customers)
- A SaaS (software as a service) and e-commerce platform provider (for subscription box sellers/businesses)
The Cratejoy marketplace is kind of like the eBay of subscription boxes. Customers can browse hundreds of subscription boxes listed on the marketplace and subscribe to any that they like.
The Cratejoy software service/e-commerce platform is aimed not at customers but at sellers. Cratejoy sells its own software and design service to help would-be subscription box sellers to create their website and launch their own successful online business.
As Frugal For Less is all about making money, we’re going to be focusing on this second function, and talking about whether or not its worth using the Cratejoy software to launch our own businesses and start making a passive income online.
How Cratejoy Works
Before we talk about whether Cratejoy could be a worthwhile investment, let’s look at how it works, for both the customer and the seller.
Here’s how Cratejoy works for customers broken down into basic steps:
- Head to the Cratejoy website
- Pick a category of subscription box that you might be interested in (such as books, beauty, art, novelty, etc)
- Browse the listings until you find one that you like the look of
- Click the listing to see pricing information, further details, and reviews from other customers
- Sign up to the subscription and pay your first month’s payment.
- On the specified delivery date, you’ll receive your first box of goodies.
- You’ll continue to receive a new box of goodies every month until you end your subscription
It’s simple, it’s cool, and it’s a lot of fun!
Ok, moving onto sellers (that’s us). Here’s how Cratejoy works for those looking to start selling their own subscription boxes.
- Decide what kind of subscription box you want to sell, and how much you’re going to sell it for (make sure it’s profitable)
- Sign up to Cratejoy’s all-in-one subscription e-commerce platform
- Use the Cratejoy software to create your own subscription store
- Customize your store using the Cratejoy website builder and custom templates
- Start selling your boxes and scaling your recurring customer base
There’s no need to pay for a server as your website will be hosted through Cratejoy’s own server. They also take care of other things like providing you with analytics, referral programs, and other tools you need to run your business.
They pretty much do everything for you other than the fun stuff, like designing your storefront, boxes, and packaging. This takes the hassle out of launching your business so that you can focus on the creative side of things.
How Much Does Cratejoy Cost?
The all-in-one e-commerce platform subscription service that allows you to design and launch your own website costs $39 per month. That price bags you things like customer management tools, your own website, access to responsive themes, and advanced payment and shipping management features.
On top of the $39 per month, Cratejoy also takes a cut of any sales you make, but it’s not a huge amount. Their cut is the sum of 1.25% of the sale price + $0.10 fee per transaction.
In practice, this means that if you were to sell a subscription box for $50, you’d end up paying around $0.73 per subscription to Cratejoy.
If you don’t want to pay the $39 per month, you can also just sell your subscription box through the Cratejoy marketplace for free (except for transaction fees). This could be worth doing if you don’t want to invest in a monthly subscription as the marketplace still gets a lot of traffic (4 million page views and other 30,000 sales every month).
It’s probably worth mentioning that if you do sign up to the all-in-one e-commerce platform, it includes a box listing on the marketplace too for extra traffic.
$39 per month isn’t exactly a huge amount, but it’s still money that we’d rather not waste, right? And you could probably build and host your own website through WordPress and Bluehost for a little less than that, so why choose Cratejoy? Let’s explore that question…
Benefits of Selling Through Cratejoy
Here are some key benefits of selling through Cratejoy, that you just wouldn’t get if you chose to go at it alone and build your website from scratch.
1. It’s Great for Beginners
New entrepreneurs who don’t have a lot of business experience can benefit from Cratejoy as it takes a lot of the hassle out of the process of launching for you and can help you to get your business off the ground.
You might have a great idea for a subscription service but might not have the business knowledge to know how to begin. Rather than get bogged down in learning a bunch of website design and business skills (and end up losing momentum), you can just get going straight away through Cratejoy.
2. Advanced Analytics
Another benefit of Cratejoy is that it comes with tools that can help you to get a better understanding of how well your subscription business is performing.
Their analytics tools allow you to track things like your monthly page views, conversions, and more. You can see where your sales are coming from and use all that data to better optimize your subscription box and listing to drive profits.
3. Easy Traffic
One of the biggest challenges associated with launching a new business is getting the traffic you need to make sales. The great thing about selling through Cratejoy is that it can provide a lot of that traffic for you.
According to Cratejoy, 4 million people view the site every month – that’s a lot of potential buyers. All you have to do is create something awesome that converts those visitors to paying customers. Of course, as with all new products and services, marketing is still pretty important, but it will at least be less critical in the start.
And speaking of marketing…
4. Built-in Marketing
While the marketplace traffic alone might be enough traffic for your business, you can bolster your traffic even further using the in-built marketing tools that Cratejoy offer. They have referral programs, email marketing, coupons, and other discount tools that you can leverage to promote your product.
They also have pretty nifty social media integration so you can link up your Cratejoy business to push social traffic too.
Sellers that operate through Cratejoy get access to a lot of support to help them to learn, grow, and scale their business. For technical issues, you can contact the Cratejoy support team through live chat or email.
They also host webinars and provide a ton of educational resources on their blog to help you to learn how to become more profitable and make more money as you go.
6. Customizable Subscriptions
One of the great things about Cratejoy’s e-commerce platform is how flexible it is. You’re not forced to stick with one subscription box renewal date and can, instead, allow your customers to set their own calendar renewal dates.
This is really important for subscription box sellers as a one-size-fits-all approach to selling doesn’t always work. Some customers need that flexibility and you might lose sales unless you can offer it. You can also do things like setup discounts for prepayments, and more.
7. Great Product Pages
The product pages on Cratejoy are something special. They look great, have plenty of support for various product images, a space for customer reviews, and more. All these things help you to create a listing that looks and feels super-credible and drives sales.
They also allow you to list variations so you could, for example, make your subscription box available in different sizes and allow your customers to choose from different size options.
How Much Money Can You Make With Cratejoy?
You’ll be using Cratejoy to help you start and launch your own subscription box business, so how much you can make really depends on how successful your business model is. Some factors that will affect how much money you make include:
- Your profit margins
- How popular your subscription box is
- Your marketing effectiveness (how many sales you can drive)
- How large your expenses like shipping and packaging are
As well as other factors. To help you get a rough estimation, though, let’s look at an imaginary example.
Let’s say you sell a $30 per month subscription box with a 40% profit margin (you’ll be making $12 per box after all expenses and shipping). Now let’s imagine that after a few months, you grow a recurring customer base of around 50 customers.
In this scenario, you’d be making around $600 per month in profit. If you can double your subscription base, that figure doubles to $1200 per month. Double it again and it’s $2400 per month. See where I’m going here?
To make a lot of money, it’s all about scale. You’ll need to reinvest some of your initial profits into marketing efforts if you want to make big bucks but, eventually, if you’re successful, you could be making a full-time income. What’s great is that it will be a totally passive income too!
What Should I Sell On Cratejoy?
One of the best things about the modern world is how large the online business marketplace has become. With so many customers out there shopping online, there’s a potential market for almost everything- we can get really creative with the things we sell.
When choosing the kind of products you’d like to stuff in you’re box, it’s worth having a think about what your potential customers might want that they don’t have access too.
For example, if you live in Canada, you may want to consider creating a Canadian snack box that would appeal to your countrymen in the US, or something else along these lines.
Other things that sell well on the site include handmade craft boxes stocked with the type of items you might find on Etsy, cosmetics, and self-care boxes. Most self-care boxes are marketed towards women and include items like books, mugs, tea’s, etc.
If you’re struggling to think of ideas for your box, think about what skills you have and consider making some unique items by hand. Alternatively, just choose a certain demographic and center your box around them.
For example, you could choose to make a bridal box, a new mom’s box, or a box full of children’s collectibles.
It really doesn’t matter what you choose as long as your box is marketable and stands to make a profit.
How Much Should I Sell My Cratejoy Subscription Boxes For?
The amount you should charge for your boxes really depends on the type of items you’re looking to fill your boxes with. On the Cratejoy marketplace, boxes really do vary in price with some boxes costing $20 or less and other costing upwards of $40.
As a result, choosing the right price for your box can be quite difficult. There are a number of factors that you’ll need to account for before setting a price such as:
Depending on where you plan to ship to, your customers could end up paying a lot for shipping. If your shipping costs are too high and the customer is footing the bill, then it could discourage people from purchasing your box.
For this reason, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting the absolute best rate on your shipping. Cratejoy offer guidance on estimating shipping costs and also have shipping partners, Pirate Ship, and ShipStation, which supposedly offer better rates than some competitors.
Aside from the cost of the items you put into the box, you should also consider how much the actual boxes themselves will cost. Cratejoy partners with a company called BoxUp which can help you to get your hands on boxes complete with your own personal design.
Some Cratejoy discounts are available if you order through BoxUp, but, you may be able to get cheaper options elsewhere.
When selling with Cratejoy, your profits may be impacted by some fees. The main fee you should account for is the credit card processing fee, which for most credit cards stands at 2.9%. You should also consider your yearly fees and percentage cuts if you decide to use the SAAS subscription.
If you’re new to this industry, then this all may seem like a lot, but by the looks of the website, Cratejoy is pretty good at helping their sellers work everything out and get started. They even offer a downloadable budgeting tool and startup calculator to help aspiring box sellers.
Tips For Making More Sales With Cratejoy
Once you’re up and running, and you’ve decided how much you’re going to sell your box for, you will then want to make sure that your box is drawing in as many customers as possible.
For some people, this will be the hardest part of making money on Cratejoy, but there are some things you can do to make your box more appealing to potential buyers, such as:
The more unique you box items are, the more likely your box is to stand out from its competitors. For example, if you choose to create a cosmetics box, try to make sure that your items are exciting and different from what you may be able to find in a regular drug store.
Having a unique selling point will help you to make sales and ensure that your customers are happy with their products and leave good reviews.
Have a Really Great Listing
The quality of your listing will greatly affect how well your box sells. In order to make the most of your listing, be sure to spend time taking high-quality, eye-catching images of your box. It’s also necessary to have a good description of your box so that potential customer can find out everything they need to know without having to ask.
Add Videos To Your Listing
Another way to increase your sales and attract customers is to add YouTube videos to your listing. This will help potential customers get a more in-depth look at what they’re purchasing.
Give out Free Samples
Giving out free samples of your box can really help you to reach a wider audience of customers, and potentially bring more customers onto the platform.
A lot of subscription box services will gift free boxes to popular creators on YouTube and Instagram that fit their niche in exchange for a review if the box. Marketing like this is highly targeted and when done right, it can be extremely worthwhile and convert to a huge increase in sales.
How to Sign Up for Cratejoy
Signing up to be a Cratejoy merchant starts in much the same way as most things online. You will need to put in your name, email address and create a password.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll be entitled to a 14-day free trial of the all-in-one subscription business solution that Cratejoy offer and you can then begin creating a listing.
As I mentioned earlier, you do not have to sign-up to the paid all-in-one subscription business solution to sell in the marketplace, but it does offer some features that might help to make your business more profitable.
Once you’ve signed up, you can start to craft your marketplace listings and prepare your boxes for shipping. You’ll be given a range of options such as:
- Add a Product
- Name Your Store
- Customize Your Website
- Connect Payment
If you struggle to get to grips with the software, Cratejoy offers a range of YouTube tutorials and blogs that can help new merchants to get their account up and running.
Alternatives to Cratejoy
When it comes to subscription box marketplaces, Cratejoy is pretty unique in that it’s really the only one of it’s kind. However, if you’re looking for alternatives to their all all-in-one subscription business solution, some sites to consider include:
Cratejoy also has a partner company, Platejoy, which offer a free meal planning tool and grocery delivery services.
If you’re looking for ways to create your own online business, but you’re not sure about subscription boxes, you could also consider:
- Selling products on Etsy
- Start your own affiliate marketing blog
- Publish an E-book on Amazon
Frugal for Less is packed full of ideas for making money online, but you can find a list of low-cost online start-ups here.
Overall, Cratejoy seems like a pretty interesting and legit way to make money online. If you’re a crafty person or someone who loves to shop, then it could end up being the ideal career for you.
In terms of their business solution, the overall cost of using it is reasonable, and the company gets good reviews, making it a safe investment for anyone looking to get into the subscription box business.