Finding Your Niche: The Case for the Subscription Box

Posted on December 26, 2018

I recently laid out how many subscription services I’m using, and was shocked by the sheer volume of services. I subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Amazon Prime, Spotify, ESPN Plus, and NBC Sports Gold.

That’s not even scratching the surface of what’s possible. Services for individual channels like CBS All-Access have become prevalent, and of course, Disney’s long-anticipated streaming service is hiding in the shadows, waiting to pounce on the world of video consumption. But if you don’t have servers and the rights to movies and tv shows, subscription streaming isn’t going to be an option for you as an entrepreneur. Perhaps it’s time to think inside the box.

Subscription boxes first blew up around 2011 with the meteoric rise of companies like Dollar Shave Club and BlueApron. The idea is novel to consumers. The scientifically proven excitement of opening a box and the anticipation of the next box’s arrival have made subscription a staple of e-commerce.

Is the trend worth continuing though? The data says yes. According to a study done in early 2018, “The subscription e-commerce market has grown by more than 100 percent a year over the past five years. The largest such retailers generated more than $2.6 billion in sales in 2016, up from a mere $57.0 million in 2011.” What’s even more amazing is that no one industry is taking the lead in this market.

According to Entrepreneur, the largest piece of the pie is literally pie: food services make up 20 percent of subscription box sales. However, there is an incredible amount of competition, as you can see in the graph below:

This graph is courtesy of

You may look at that graph and think “well where do I fit in?” I think that’s the beauty of it. There’s a niche for everyone. There are stores that ship actual snow to your door. Yes, there’s a space for you. 

It may be intimidating to get started, but what business isn’t? If simple dropshipping or wholesale models aren’t working for you, give subscription boxes a try. Who knows? Maybe you’ll make your millions because people forget to cancel.