Creating a customisable subscription service online is hard. There are no current WYSIWYG platforms that are able to.
As a result, the only way to do so right now is to develop a custom online store, which is both an expensive and time-consuming endeavour, especially when the online store is merely a means to an end for the service provider.
Lean Bento, a health food provider in Singapore, wants to expand its offerings to include a tingkat (daily meal subscription) service, because their customers have been asking them to provide a convenient way for them to have healthy food everyday.
They are currently using Shopify to host their online store. Dionis, the founder of Lean Bento, says that she has tried to no avail to find a solution, and is therefore hoping that we can work with her to develop one.
Dionis is so frustrated with this issue that she is willing to pay us to develop the online customisable subscription service, and give us the intellectual property!
A platform to develop an online customisable subscription service has massive potential. It is not just limited to Lean Bento, nor the food and beverage industry. It is applicable to any product that wants to be delivered as a subscription.
A WYSIWYG platform to create online stores is not new. There are countless of such services like Wix, Shopify, Weebly, Squarespace, Sitebuilder, to name but a few.
The barriers to entry of such a typical platform is moderately high: it requires significant technical manpower to create such a platform, but anyone with sufficient resources can do so - there are no regulatory hurdles like licenses to overcome, but there exists a strong network effect.
Many of these platforms allow you to customise your website with plugins to add new functionalities or to integrate with services like Stripe for payments, there presents a chicken and egg problem. Users want to use a platform with many plugins, but developers wants to develop on platforms with many users.
It is therefore quintessential that we try to avoid the chicken and egg problem altogether if we were to succeed in this space.
I can think of two ways to do this:
1. We can latch onto the shoulder of giants.
Rather than reinvent the wheel and build an entirely new platform, we can build a plugin that allows the platform's users to easily create customisable subscription services. This allows us to piggy back on their global customer base, where their users can, with a single click and swipe of their credit card, add their plugin to our site.
2. We can dig in a niche for ourselves and conquer the local and regional market.
We can become a hyper localised solutions company that specialises entirely in developing custom subscription services for the local and regional market. We can focus on acquiring an astute sense of what our customers in the local and regional market need and want.
However, they're only available on Shopify.
Regarding #2: I've identified https://www.aigens.com/ as our primary competitor. They specialise in providing productivity solutions using IT to F&B companies and have relatively large customers like KFC, Pizza Hut, Genki Sushi and Burger King.
We can differentiate ourselves from them by focusing entirely on providing customisable subscription services.
In my honest opinion, I think I do not have sufficient knowledge of the food and beverage industry in order to deduce an optimal business model. There are many questions that has to be answered first, like what are the terms that the industry is willing to accept. Are they willing to pay a commission for every subscription, or would they rather pay a lump sum?
In addition, there are productivity grants that we can tap onto to help the service providers offset the cost of adopting our solutions.
For instance, the Productivity Solutions Grant reimburses companies up to 70% of the cost! But how are we going to be accredited?
However, I feel that this problem is definitely worth exploring because it solves a real problem and serves a currently underserved market.