Subscription models are cool. Provide a service to your customers, who in return pay a recurring fee. That’s the idea behind CandyJapan.com, a service that sends you (surprise, surprise) candy from Japan . It was created by Bemmu Sepponen, a Finnish national living in Japan, and he operates it part time. And there are so many reasons why I love this idea that I’m not really sure where to start.
Japanese candy can be very unusual, and strangely, people all over the world are interested to buy it – whether it’s the many flavors of Kit-Kat or a DIY candy dumplings kit. The tagline for the CandyJapan service is “snacks from Japan to anywhere, twice a month, for $24.” And so far Bemmu seems to be doing well.
You can read a complete account of Bemmu’s story on his blog, aptly titled “I Make Stuff.” Here’s a quick excerpt from his year-end retrospective, after six months of selling:
Since I had been buying a lot of candy very regularly from the supermarket (I represent about 50 percent of their candy sales), my relationship with the manager had become good enough that I could ask him for help. He agreed to try if they could just do the packaging inside the supermarket, so that we wouldn’t need to move the boxes home.
Since I now knew very well the effort involved in making a package, I knew how much time it would take them to do it for me. We agreed on a flat per package packing fee. The initial trial run went well, and they have been making packages for me ever since. I just show up twice a month there with the address labels and other materials I have prepared and they take care of the rest. Post office picks up the packages directly from the supermarket. This has almost turned into a drop-shipping operation.
Even though Bemmu’s service looks pretty successful so far, with $36,000 worth of candy shipped so far, he notes that his subscriber count peaked at around 300 and started to subsequently decline. I asked Bemmu, if he could increase the number of subscriptions , could he still handle the higher volume in shipments? He explains:
If I could find a sustainable source of traffic that converts well enough and is cheap enough to continue buying, there is nothing really unscalable about back-end of the business. I would be able to handle 10,000 subscribers if that amount suddenly subscribed tomorrow. Almost everything is automated and I have a partnership with a company that helps me fulfill the orders.
I really hope that things go well for Bemmu, because it’s just a stellar idea all around, I think. I love that he’s openly talking about his projects publicly on his blog, and inviting advice from readers and fans. I can’t help but wonder what might happen if he could work on this full time. Perhaps he might list CandyJapan on Quarterly.co, another subscription service where users can sign up to get items from assorted web personalities? 
I encourage you to check out the website at CandyJapan.com, or check out the Facebook page. And of course, if you enjoy candy, don’t hesitate to sign up! In the meantime, check out this awesome candy hamburger, just one of the many treats that Bemmu has sent as part of his service.