Danny Taing saw an opportunity to help makers in Japan—many of whom were struggling with falling demand—by connecting them with the interest in Japanese food abroad. He founded Bokksu, an online retailer curating Japanese snack subscription boxes and selling à la carte Asian candies and treats.
“Global distribution is something that a lot of these family businesses are trying to strive for, but have a hard time doing on their own,” Danny says. Bokksu helps keep traditions alive.
To make global distribution possible, Bokksu acquires and retains customers with novelty and diversified products. Ahead, Danny shares his secrets to launching a successful subscription business and reaching a global audience.
Evolving with trends and customer feedback
Bokksu’s retention has stayed consistent over the past few years, and Danny attributes that to changing its core subscription product. “We’ve never stopped reiterating and improving the Bokksu snack box,” Danny says. “I think when you just kind of let it go stale is when there’s a lot of subscription fatigue that might happen.”
The company regularly changes the products included in the subscription box based on customer feedback and makes special themed boxes for seasons or regions of Japan.
Fundraising through the rough patches
Danny says one of the benefits of fundraising for a business was to be able to weather the cycles of demand, like when subscription boxes are less popular or a global pandemic hits. In his case, funding helped him to diversify his product lines to open an online Asian food retailer and start a partnership with Hello Kitty.
“It switched me as a founder, as a leader, from a scarcity mindset to more of an abundance mindset,” Danny says. “Back in the day, I was so scared to spend at all because there was no money to take risks with and to hire the right people.”
Getting creative with fulfillment
Bokksu’s subscription boxes are, in part, a success because the company perfected its logistics. The boxes ship directly from Japan to more than 200 countries, which allows the brand to offer products with a shorter shelf life.
In 2020 when the pandemic hit, Japan Post suspended almost all worldwide shipping, bringing Bokksu’s business to a halt. “I thought that I would have to just close up shop because I couldn’t ship anymore, even though there was a lot of demand at that time,” says Danny.
He spent weeks reaching out to other vendors and finding an alternative that would keep costs down. Instead of packing and shipping the boxes direct to consumer from Japan, like the company had before the pandemic, Bokksu worked with vendors to ship the products to the US first and pack the subscription boxes there. This enabled Bokksu to keep shipping its core product during the pandemic.
Danny has enjoyed the challenges at different points in Bokksu’s journey, whether revamping subscription boxes, convincing makers to work with Bokksu, or riding the cyclical demand for certain products. “Being a founder has been the funnest job I’ve ever had in my life, because every few months my job kind of changes.”
He recommends seeking out opportunities to add novelty wherever possible to keep both new customers and old subscribers coming back.
To learn more about Bokksu and what’s actually in its famous subscription box, listen to the full episode on Shopify Masters.