In this Facebook Live replay Robyn talks about how she creates boxed sets! Below the video are notes. Enjoy!
How to Choose Themes
I have two different ways of coming up with themes for my sets. Holidays and Just Because.
“Holiday/Seasonal” sets are nice because they give people an opportunity to buy a pre-boxed gift. One of the things I learned from doing markets for so long is that people want to have grab and go options for holidays. Especially with COVID 19 I noticed that people really want to have something quick. Christmas and Mother’s Day are generally my biggest sellers for these grab-and-go type of sets, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make boxes for every single holiday. The only downside to season specific boxes is that if you don’t sell through them all, you might be stuck with extra products after a season.
**Personally, Halloween is my favorite holiday but it has a very short window of selling time, so while I want to make the most products for Halloween, I have to curb my enthusiasm!
“Just Because” sets are my favorite to do. They are able to sell longer, however the downside is you have to be prepared to have inventory and product on hand for a while before it moves. While I was totally into the Conspiracy Theories, Breakfast for Dinner and Tiger King Sets, there is a possibility that they will sit on my shelves waiting for the right buyers. In other words, there might not be a built-in market for the items the way there is for Holiday sets. You would really have to determine what your tolerance is for slow/dead inventory.
As far as themes… What makes you tick? You’ll hear me say this over and over but if you’re into something, your customers will get excited about it too! It doesn’t mean you won’t swing and miss, but you’ll at least enjoy it. Nothing is worse than creating something you don’t really like and getting a lukewarm response from your clients! If you’re into Peaky Blinders, do a Peaky Blinders set! If you like chocolate, make a whole set themed around chocolate! If there is something where you think, “you know what would be awesome…” then DO THAT. I think the most important thing is to not just do something because someone else did it! Do what makes you happy, do what makes you tick! Figure out what part of your essential YOU-ness you’d like to share with your customers! Let that guide your themes!
Knowing What to Put In Them
What you put into your sets is really up to you. I have done balanced sets with equal numbers of bath bombs to soaps, all soap sets, and all bath bomb sets, and I even did a Collaboration box recently. Having access to your analytics is a great resource, so if you use Shopify, WooCommerce, Square, pretty much any ecommerce site, they should all have analytics you can look at to help determine what should go into your boxes. Sometimes you have to pay a little extra for the plugins depending on who your web host is, but it’s always worth it to know where your business is going so you can apply your resources appropriately.
I sell Bath Bombs much faster than I sell soaps, so when I make my boxes I will tend to make them bath bomb heavy. There are also times I want to make limited edition items and putting them in a boxed set is a great way to make sure they move. Sometimes I know an item is awesome, but it’s being overlooked at markets or online, so I’ll add it to a boxed set to help it get noticed. I also sometimes need a throw-down item to justify boosting that price point. Something small and simple can do the trick here (ahem, bubble scoops anyone?!)
How many things to put into a set (Do I limit items?)
This is once again going to come down to a few different factors, probably first and foremost, the size of your box! You also have to consider the cost to the customer, but I will say that the average value of my sales have gone up 14% in the last year, and 4% in the last quarter since I started to hit the boxes harder. So as long as you can make it look nice and polished, you have the potential to really increase your average ticket sales. Really though, you have to consider what would make a set feel complete! I did a Conspiracy Theory Boxed Set, and while I loved it, there was really too much stuff in it. It felt cluttered and overwhelming. I also didn’t charge nearly enough for it and took a loss, but I learned a lot too!On average I try to have 4-6 items in a set.
How often do I put sets out? Monthly, Bimonthly, Quarterly?
When I first started boxed sets, I planned on doing “Seasonal” sets that I would launch every 2 months. The problem was… I just wasn’t into it! Ha! I felt like I put a lot of pressure on myself and I felt kind of boxed into these ideas I’d had months in advance, but I wasn’t inspired by the time it came around to making them. The other thing about announcing them early was that I was allowing customers to pay for them early, but didn’t know 100% yet what product I would have in them. So I was really under a lot of pressure to turn out something awesome, but I still had to keep it within a price range and ughhhh! I didn’t like it!
If you are a better planner than me, this might not be a problem for you, but my brain would rebel and think of every idea EXCEPT the one I needed it to be thinking of. In the end I decided to back down a bit and just go with the flow. The response from my customers has been huge as well. I think it’s really important to be excited about what you sell, and I think my enthusiasm does more to sell the product than me dragging my feet and cursing myself.
Now I do hit the seasonal sets, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, but I also throw some out when I feel the urge to do something awesome!
Currently my boxes will fit into a Regional Rate B box. I go through a 3rd party shipping company and it costs me on average $7.99 to ship (as of 5/20/2020). My shipping is actually set on my website to $5 standard domestic, and I’ll probably go back up to $7 after COVID has eased up a bit, but here’s why I have it set so low…
Yes, I occasionally take a small loss on the shipping, however, think about when you are the customer. How often does shipping make or break you when it comes to a purchase? For me, I can go all the way to check out, but when I see that a $10 purchase will cost me $9 I just can’t with it. If you don’t like the idea of a set price for shipping you can try a couple different things. First you can have a “free shipping on orders over $____” offer. However, don’t be surprised at the number of people who will spend $.01 and miss out on the free shipping (it happens all the time and blows my mind.) The other option is to slightly pad your prices across the board. This is not unethical or illegal.
The point is… you DON’T want your customers to be having a debate around YOUR products about whether or not it’s worth the cost of shipping! You want them to complete check out, you want to close the sale! If I have to lose $2 to land a $50 sale, then that’s worth it to me.
Packaging (Vendors, pricing boxes etc)
You can use any type of box for a boxed set. There is no reason you have to get the white mailer type boxes! Currently I get my boxes from Paper Mart. With shipping and tax they cost around $1.77 each! I know, I know! You’re probably thinking that it’s way too much! Here’s the deal though, I got a Smile Direct Club box in the mail last week, and my Scandalous Soap boxed sets were right next to it and I realized they were the exact same box, just different dimensions. That’s an awesome feeling because it means when my customers see the boxes they are really going to feel the added value! While $1.77 is expensive, next time around I’ll be ordering in bulk and that will drop the cost for me as well. I also tried a few other types of cheaper options and I wasn’t happy with the look of them. So for me, it’s worth it! If you don’t want to invest $70 right off the bat you can always buy in smaller quantities until you find packaging you’re happy with.
Paper Mart, Uline, Staples… you’re looking for what are called “Tuck Top Boxes” or even “Literature Mailers”
Fragrances (all the same? Different? Same family? How to choose?)
I have done boxes with everything in the same fragrance, I have done them with mixed scents and I’ve done with scent families. My preference is to do scent families. Because everything is all in there together it gets sort of gross after awhile if you open it up and get smacked with Peppermint, Aqua Di Gio, Cherry, Banana, Nag Champa! So I try to keep them all fruity, or all floral, all masculine, etc.
I have an 11 year old who is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, bananas and latex. If you hand that kid a tick tack, he will ask you if it has nuts in it! For the most part, people with allergies will make you aware of the fact that they have an allergy. That doesn’t mean you don’t still have an obligation to include ingredients, but what I mean is that someone with a life threatening allergy will know to ask about potential allergens. One I’ve been encountering a lot lately is Avocado. Since I don’t use nut oils (like sweet almond oil) I’m not going to switch my formula, but certainly if they ask me I will let them know that it is in there. My focus is to be nut and palm free, and unfortunately I can’t be everything to everyone! So make sure you’re transparent in your labeling and follow your own convictions!
Informational material inside set?
Yes! I always include a small sheet that talks a little bit about the set itself, and what inspired me to make it. I will also include a list of the items that come in the box. For the most part the products will have instructions on them, but if there is a special item I will also include directions for that.
If I work with collaborators I make sure to include their info as well!
I don’t do pre-orders and here’s why! The first set I sold, I was planning on making 20 boxes but I could not for the life of me get this one bath bomb to work. The sets were selling, and people were expecting their boxes and here I am 3-4 days late (ok, I was probably overthinking it if I have to be honest, but I am a perfectionist!). I hated the pressure! Now I plan differently. I’m currently working on 20 boxes with 7 bath bombs each… If I only make 140 bath bombs, something is going to go wrong!!! Instead I plan for something to go wrong and give myself some cushion!
100% Collabs! When I was planning the bubble bootcamp with Amanda I knew I wouldn’t have time to put together a full Mother’s Day set. I contacted a local candle maker and bought wholesale from him, and then had Shannon (Moringa Rose) make me some face masks. They were both people I knew and trusted, with products I loved and used anyway. It made sense to work together. It also means I don’t have to fall down the rabbit hole of candle making (not even slightly interested), or try to act like specialty skin care is my thing when it’s not! If you know someone who does something better than you, celebrate it! There’s no reason not to! That’s how bosses do!
Promote? Social Media
I generally think you should be rocking at least 2 social media platforms. I choose FB and IG because they make sense to me. I don’t understand Pinterest, YouTube, or TikTok (but I’m trying to learn them dances!!!!). I think as long as you can do 2 really well then that’s good. Amanda will be a better help when it comes to leveraging social media for promoting!
I can say that I get my customers involved by doing a FB Live every Friday. Right before I launch a set I try to make the last item on a LIVE. People love that! If you can get them invested in the process they will never complain about the price! They will grasp the value you’re offering!
Do I continue to make the products?
I will rarely continue to make items afterward. It has to be something very special. I did a summer reading list 3 years ago and still have 2 soaps from that set that I make, and I have had requests to bring back the conspiracy theories, but I will change things up the second time around it I do that!
Any left over items I will sell individually, or I’ll make a “Sloppy Seconds” box with odds and ends from different sets that didn’t sell! Ironically everything I make, even the broken smashed bath bombs will eventually sell. I have very few things that don’t move.
Knowing How to Price Them
You definitely need to know the cost of goods on your items, you need to know how much packaging is costing you and that it’s ok to mark up for that! You’d be surprised how quickly it adds up, so don;t undersell yourself. Initially I was trying to do $20 for 4 bath bombs, and that just didn’t work. I was taking too big a hit and that’s not a nice feeling. Obviously you’ll make mistakes and there will be a learning curve, but they are really a lot of fun, you can be really creative with boxed sets!
About Robyn French Smith
My name is Robyn French Smith! I studied fine art at the University of St Thomas and the Glassell School of Art in Houston TX, and graphic design at The Art Institute of Houston. I started dabbling in DIY bath and body products over 10 years ago after moving to Alaska. While I knew how to make basic soap for several years, I didn’t start looking at it as an art form until about 4 years ago when a neck and shoulder injury made it almost impossible for me to draw and paint. I needed a place for all that creativity to go, and I found it in soap. I received my Basic Soapmaker Certification from the HSCG in 2019 and plan on pursuing further levels of certification.