This week, small business editor Caitlin Sykes talks to business owners about home delivery by subscription.

Andy Evans is the founder of Bow Wow Box, which home delivers boxes of dog treats to subscribers each month.

When and why did you set up Bow Wow Box?

We launched Bow Wow Box just over a year ago, but I've been in the pet industry for eight years with my other business, Guardians dog minding service. We look after more than 1,000 dogs a year in Auckland with that business, but it's very transactional; each month you kind of start at zero and build from there. So I was looking for a business with a recurring revenue model to flatten out the peaks and troughs throughout the year. When I came across dog subscription boxes in the States I thought it was a model we could replicate here, especially because those kinds of products can be difficult for consumers to import because they often contain meat products. But in New Zealand it's still quite a new concept to get products delivered via subscription, whereas in America they've been doing it for many years, so the industry is a lot bigger there.

What kind of growth have you been experiencing in the business?


At the moment we have just under 500 subscribers and we see our biggest growth in the months leading up to Christmas. More than 95 percent of our buyers are female, who tend to be the decision makers in the family when it comes to a dog's well being, and we've built up about 10,000 followers on Facebook.

Building a profitable subscription business is really all about the numbers, because you can only charge so much for a subscription. That's created something of a catch-22 situation for us because we'd like to bring in more products from overseas, which would help us gain more subscribers, but alternately we need greater subscriber numbers to be able to do that.

You mentioned this concept is relatively new here when compared to the likes of the US market. What have been the challenges around that?

I've found suppliers are still getting their heads around what we're doing, so I've had to be proactive and seek out product from suppliers rather than them calling me. Also, just establishing those relationships with suppliers takes time.

From a consumer perspective, it's been hard for people to get their heads around purchasing product unseen, because consumers don't know what they're going to get in the box each month. Unboxing the package is a key part of the experience we're selling and we try hard to surprise and delight when customers open that box each month. So we have to make sure we've got enough magic in the box, and that people also feel they're getting value for money.

What are some of your future plans for developing the business further?

We're wanting to go into Australia, and we also want to offer a subscription box for cats down the track. Executing those plans really comes down to the volume of boxes we can reach with Bow Wow Box here though - probably once we've hit 1,000 boxes going out a month. Kiwis are still quite a way behind many places in the world when it comes to online retail purchasing, especially when compared to the US and UK, so that's why I can see huge potential growth for businesses like these.