Research has shown that you can convert every third customer of your e-commerce business into a subscriber. Or you can set up as a subscription business from the get-go.
With a subscription business model, your customers sign up to receive a supply of a service or products at a set frequency. This could be:
But what products and services fall into these categories that you could target for your subscription business? That's what this article will discuss; 9 subscription business model ideas you can try in Kenya right now.
Let’s get started.
Any product or service consumers use and buy frequently can be targeted for a subscription business. For a big ticket purchase, this can be everyday physical consumer products, software, services, or fan culture items around a particular brand.
This means you can pivot to or add the subscription sales model to whatever you sell. You can implement the model to a new and existing business.
Instead of thinking of customers as one-time or occasional buyers of your products or services, you should consider them potential subscribers. The biggest benefit of this business model is predictable revenue that allows you to strategise and scale confidently.
With that said, let’s explore business ideas you can target to start your own subscription company:
If you study the American and European markets, you will find lots of subscription business success stories to draw ideas and inspiration. However, because of cultural differences and disposal income disparities, not all of these will find the market fit in a developing economy like Kenya.
For the same reasons, there are subscription business ideas that can succeed here that would not do as well in Western markets. Below, we explore those we feel have great potential in Kenya.
A meat subscription box is a custom or curated box of meat products you deliver to customers’ homes weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. This model can be implemented for an existing butchery or a startup subscription company.
If you are starting from scratch, you, however, need to have or hire people with deep knowledge and experience in the meat value chain. A pure subscription model is cheaper than setting up a butchery that requires a prime retail location and display fridges, among other equipment local food-service by-laws say you must install.
Whether you let customers pick meats for their subscription boxes or curate or randomly select them yourself, there is a wide array of options for meats. This includes raw beef, chicken, fish, lamb, and cured, processed, and cold meats.
The key to a successful meat subscription box is the quality of your meats. It can’t be succulent, fresh meat this week and then tough as leather meat that’s not fresh the next. So it’s crucial that you find reliable suppliers and sort packaging and shipping so the meat boxes reach customers in the best condition.
Many young parents work full-time, and finding time for a trip to the supermarket or produce market can be tricky. For these busy professionals, a fresh produce subscription can be quite handy.
Consumers love produce subscription boxes for their ability to connect them with local farmers and ensure access to organic produce that’s truly fresh. With a guaranteed regular supply of fresh produce, consumers don’t feel the need to buy produce in bulk, which often leads to food waste.
Whether custom or curated, a fresh produce subscription box can include a selection of both fresh vegetables and fruits. These boxes can comprise staple produce items like tomatoes, onions, and carrots, but many customers will prefer to customise their boxes.
The one challenge with a produce subscription box is the seasonal nature of farm produce. Many fruits, in particular, aren’t available year-round. While you can source them from outside, the prices will be considerably higher.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are perishable and don’t store well, even under the best conditions. For these reasons, the contents and prices of your subscription boxes will change throughout the year. It is, thus, reasonable that you should allow customers the ability to customise their boxes.
Among other boxes you must tick to succeed with a produce subscription box are:
At the start, it is essential to concentrate on your local area and only scale to other towns when you have built your capacity and fully tested your systems. You should also avoid adding precut produce to your boxes as these don’t keep well and lose their quality faster than raw produce.
How often have you seen people buy partially prepared food for consumption or full preparation at home? This could be chicken offals, pre-boiled beans, smoked chicken and sausage, or pre-cut vegetables.
People are busy, and food preparation takes too much time. But the HelloFresh-style subscription business idea of meal kits with pre-measured ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes may need tweaking to adapt to the Kenyan consumers’ needs.
Besides boxes of pre-cooked meals that busy singles can quickly rustle up, another potentially lucrative idea is a breakfast and lunch subscription of ready-to-eat meals targeting office workers.
These people buy breakfast and lunch every day from fast-food restaurants that are often expensive. A brekkie and lunch subscription delivered to their places of work daily could be very appealing. A similar subscription service can also work for university campus students. It’s a better alternative to self-catering.
Online lessons for secondary school exam classes are a huge business opportunity in Kenya and many African countries. Because the demand is already there, this is the perfect access subscription business idea for entrepreneurs in Kenya.
The KCSE exam students take at the end of their four years of high determines if they will be eligible for a college or apprenticeship admission.
Keen to secure their children's futures, parents are willing to sacrifice and ensure they get the extra lessons they need to pass. So entrepreneurs who can invest in a content library of video lessons that prepare students for exams can strike it rich pretty quickly.
The beauty of this subscription service is that unless the syllabus changes, you can produce content once and earn from it repeatedly. That’s because a fresh group of students sits for their KSCE exams every year.
Already, there are businesses in Kenya that offer educational material online, like Dawati, that could pivot to or add a subscription model as a secondary sales channel.
Pet owners are known to be extravagant spenders. Maybe that’s because pets, especially dogs, make great companions and can provide better comfort and loyalty than people when sick or going through a tough time.
Dog owners who can afford it can spare no expense in ensuring their pooch is happy, well-fed, and comfortable. This makes a pet supplies subscription box a lucrative business idea.
From pet furniture, treats, and toys to accessories, pet owners can choose from a wide array of items for their subscription boxes. Because pet owners often spend with their hearts and seldom stick to a budget, you can set higher price points for your pet supplies subscription box.
Remember, though, that for the most devoted pet owners, only the best counts for their pets. They can spend high amounts on seemingly non-essential items, but they want those to be of the highest quality.
The best pet subscription boxes send monthly boxes curated based on a theme. Bark Box, which will notch $100 million in sales this year, is an example of a subscription company doing this well.
Whether you are a man and especially if you are a lady, you want to look your best every time you step out to go to work or even to a social event.
But we are so busy we can struggle to find the time to shop for beauty and grooming supplies. The shopping exercise itself can be overwhelming because of the many options available. Go to the supermarket's perfume aisle and try deciding what deodorant to buy. Choice paralysis is a thing.
Enter grooming and beauty subscription boxes that take the pain out of shopping for the essential products to keep your skin, hair, beard, nails, makeup, and body looking its absolute best.
You have several options with this subscription business model idea. You can follow:
A high-end barbershop is ideally suited to the membership club for men. Men generally prefer to use the same barber for their hair and beard and often pay a premium for the right ambience and the privilege of booking a service at their convenience.
This is the most common access subscription business model example for businesses. Monthly or yearly recurring access subscriptions is the most practical and ideal way to sell a frequently used software.
There are different types of business software that you can develop and sell through the subscription business model. This includes software for:
A SaaS subscription business can be very profitable due to lower upfront and running capital needs. While it requires expert developer talent and considerable server resources, the product itself is accessible online, which removes costs associated with shipping and packaging that can eat up a large chunk of your revenue.
This is probably the most essential but least enjoyable chore for many people. Cleaning takes time, is physically demanding, and is, in most cases, a dirty job.
There are enough people who can afford to pay money to have this chore taken off their hands that you could target with a home cleaning subscription.
A home cleaning subscription can be priced according to the size of the home (number of bedrooms and bathrooms) and may include such cleaning tasks as:
To succeed with this business, your customers need to be absolutely sure that your cleaners are trustworthy and will respect your privacy. As well as that, your cleaners have to be efficient to accomplish their tasks quickly and ensure minimal disruption to homeowners' daily routines.
As well as cleaning, decluttering, and cooking, another household chore that most people would hire help for is laundry. No one we know enjoys laundry day.
We know that after wearing them, we have to wash and iron those clothes, but we still would rather someone else does it for us. This opens a business opportunity in the shape of a laundry subscription where people pay a monthly fee to have their laundry picked up for washing and ironing on specific days.
The best laundry services provide branded laundry bags beforehand that customers can fill with their laundry and have ready for pickup on the scheduled days. They also have a mobile app that users use to track their laundry orders and change pick-up schedules if they need to.
You have a subscription business model idea from this list that you feel has potential and want to try it! What do you need to get started?
Like any other business you will start, you need a solid business plan. From that plan, you will determine how much capital you will need, a list of suppliers, the licences you will need, and the operating costs you must meet.
But unlike other businesses, you will need special software for creating subscription plans, billing customers, and collecting those recurring payments that make the subscription business model so attractive.
Subscription management software is an essential tool for running a subscription company. You need the software to integrate with a reliable payment gateway. A payment gateway enables you to collect customer payments online and offer multiple payment options to them.
The Intasend subscription and billing software is the best platform to launch your subscription business in Kenya. Sign-up and integration with your website is quick and painless. The software allows you to create payment plans tailored to your business and customers’ needs.
Subscription businesses are an emerging and potentially lucrative opportunity in Kenya. Learn more about the Intasend automatic billing and subscription software and get in early in what will soon be a gold rush.