Welcome to the latest installment of Cratejoy’s new merchant success series, “Unboxed”! Each month, we’ll learn tips, tricks, and subscription box secrets from Cratejoy’s top merchants.
Today we talk with Matt Cardosi of RunLocker! (Find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!)
Tell us about RunLocker. How did you come up with the idea? What made you pursue it?
RunLocker is a monthly subscription box designed specifically for runners. Our goal is to provide running tools and advice to help runners, of all experience levels, train better and recover faster. Boxes include a selection of athletic wear, recovery aids, healthy snacks and fitness accessories from both new and established brands, as well as priceless advice from a qualified running coach.
The idea for RunLocker came to me while I was running in the 2016 Chicago Marathon. Visiting the expo, I realized how many cool new products were exploding into the market and I thought they should be available to the entire running community to try, not just those competing in marathons and visiting the expos. With that, RunLocker was born.
Why did you choose Cratejoy?
For me, Cratejoy was an obvious choice.
The breadth of tools available on the platform and the customer service, before I had even signed up, was brilliant. The free trial allowed me to explore the available analytics on offer and the website builder tool really made the decision for me to launch RunLocker on Cratejoy an easy one.
The churn rate data point is a very useful tool, and one that I would have difficulties tracking on my own; while the click-through analysis is also incredibly valuable, it allows me to see what is driving customers to sign up versus why others don’t. This enables me to look holistically at what’s working and what’s not, and helps me make tweaks to the business model to allow RunLocker evolve and grow. I also couldn’t have reached this stage so quickly without the help of the Cratejoy support team. They are super helpful, very knowledgeable and responsive, so a big thanks from RunLocker to the team for all the support they have, and continue, to give me.
How did you acquire your first 25 (or so) subscribers?
My approach to obtaining customers was threefold. Firstly, I decided to build a social media presence before I had even started developing the website and working on the brand guidelines. This enabled me to gain followers, which would (hopefully) convert into subscribers, and help RunLocker grow organically when it was time to launch.
Secondly, I set up a landing page for people to find out more about RunLocker and leave their email address. This let me build an email list of potential members that I could engage with, and allowed me to focus on the website and establish relationships with companies who had products I wanted to include in our “lockers.”
Finally, I created flyers with details about RunLocker and handed them out at the finish lines of races to market directly to my customer base.
How did you go about designing your box?
Designing the boxes was really fun.
The RunLocker subscription box is a journey of discovery, and as a runner, I understood what products and advice runners, of all levels, would find informative and useful. My framework was to include 6-8 items and a piece of running advice in each box.
This included a “main” item, 2-3 of the very best energy gels/snacks, and 2-3 fitness accessories/recovery aids that every runner should have in their closet. Finally, I worked with some really cool, qualified running coaches to add exclusive RunLocker advice and motivation in every box.
For the box itself, I decided initially to keep the design simple to ensure there was demand for the product. Having a box custom-designed can be costly, and you are often charged a setup cost for the printing, which can only be used on the size of the box you select. So I thought it important to test out different shapes and sizes of boxes as RunLocker gained popularity, to ensure I settled on the best one before committing to a custom design.
What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
Pay attention to shipping costs, as they can be the difference between success and failure. Spending time in the prelaunch phase to find the best option to fit is time well-spent. I spent a lot of time figuring out the best size and design of the box and didn’t consider the impact this could have on the price of shipping. While going to the post office to ship the first RunLocker boxes was definitely a milestone, doing more research upfront would have helped cut my costs much earlier.
Take Action: When you’re new to an industry, it’s easy to underestimate the research you’ll need to do. Check out Cratejoy’s guide to setting up a prelaunch for your business, then read our interviews with other featured merchants in our Prelaunch Success Stories.
What mistake(s) do you wish you could have avoided along the way?
Starting a subscription box is complex. It involves a lot more than throwing some samples in a box and sending them out to customers. Allocating your time appropriately is difficult, and something that you learn as your business grows.
While social media is definitely an important tool to engage with potential customers, I wish I had engaged more with my existing members after shipping my first few boxes.
Customer feedback is priceless; if they don’t like your product, they won’t renew their subscription, and without them, you don’t have a business. Cratejoy’s “request feedback” option is a great tool and one that every subscription box business on the platform should use.
Anything else you’d like to share about your success story?
As RunLocker has become more established, I have started receiving reverse inquiries from the owners of some really cool new products. This has helped massively and [is] something I am very excited about. A lot of people who have reached out are brand-new companies or businesses in the early stages of establishing their products, and doing so through RunLocker is exactly what I envisioned when I started out.
I am also working with some national magazines to run a piece on RunLocker in future editions. For me, this really is a sign that my business is being taken seriously, and I’m looking forward to seeing RunLocker featured in some of the largest fitness publications in the country!