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Don't Give Too Many Options: Subscription Box Expert Tip Series, Post 4

Bulu Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Stephanie Jarrett was invited to share some of her Top Tips as a Subscription Box Expert at SUBTA Women in Subscription in September. In this ongoing series, you’ll find 6 tips you need to navigate your own box program - pulled from Stephanie’s experience launching more than 16 subscription box programs that have resulted in over 10 million shipments from Bulu’s warehouse, earned $100 million in revenue, and an average customer rating of 4.5/5 stars per box.

Give Options But Not Too Many

No doubt, if you’ve dipped your toes into anything related to subscriptions, you’ve heard that customization is key. At Bulu, we agree - but, proceed with caution. Customization can be a slippery, expensive slope for your brand. There is a point of diminishing returns. You’ve got to find that sweet spot between what customers want (or say they want) and what works best for your business financially (and stays true to your brand promise!)

Bulu worked on a subscription box program where we made the mistake of offering customers far too many options to customize their box. Basic box or deluxe? What length of subscription? Is it a gift or a surprise? Do you want to auto-renew? How often should we deliver this? Do you want to customize your delivery schedule? What size? What color? Do you want an extra item? Do you want to choose that extra item or be surprised?

The number of available customizations was overwhelming for purchasers, and we could see it in the data.

During the signup process, we were losing potential customers about halfway through the marathon of questions due to decision fatigue.

Subscribers who chose to customize their delivery schedule were only averaging 2.5 boxes, compared to the 6 box average across the rest of this program’s subscriber base. Customization decreased retention and coupled with a high Customer Acquisition Cost, in the end, customization damaged our LTV.

Customization is exciting to customers and they’ll say that they want it if you ask. We recommend starting off with only one or two options - such as basic, deluxe, and pro subscription tiers - and carefully surveying your subscribers before and after adding any other choices. Fewer steps or barriers to signup will increase purchases!

So, give options, but not too many.

Bulu Recommends

Our CEO, Paul Jarrett, talked about customization and the unique surprise & delight of subscription deliveries for another program at SubSummit 2017. You can watch his presentation for more examples of how to find out what subscribers really want.

Stephanie recommends this SUBTA interview with the Co-Founder of BattlBox about the benefits of a tiered subscription model.


If you have questions or would like to talk to Bulu about Program Management or our other services, send a message at the top right of this page using the Contact Us button, or send an email to


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