Retail

Lawn Care In A Box? It’s Subscription Season

Lawnserv

Entrepreneurs are sometimes inspired to start a company for one or two reasons, but the co-founders behind lawn care subscription box Lawn Serv had a few observations to start their company. After talking with friends, family and co-workers, co-founders Troy Scarbrough and Nick Morwood discovered that people had no idea of the quantity of lawn care products they should buy, because, as Scarbrough told PYMNTS in an interview, “they didn’t actually know how big their lawn was.” So to start, the co-founders built a lawn-sizing tool at My Yard Size that they link to from their Lawn Serv site.

They also realized that people were not testing their soil. Even though almost every state has an agriculture school that offers this kind of service, Scarbrough said people weren’t using that resource or didn’t even know it existed. Lawn Serv then made soil testing a top priority. If the company could test the soil and understand its deficiencies, it could then address them. And they also thought the company was a good concept because of consistency: “It allows us to give them an application process, which is really consistent throughout the year,” Scarbrough said. And consumers get a box for only the months that they need it based on their climate. (The box would, say, pause during the winter, and consumers wouldn’t have to pay anything then.)

The subscription boxes themselves contain products such as custom pro-grade fertilizer, weed control, bug control and pH control — everything is pretty much included except for seed, as not everyone needs seed based on the condition of his or her lawn. At the same time, the company has a strong focus on trying to incorporate natural products into its subscription boxes. Its most-subscribed box, for instance, is “Mostly Natural,” which Scarbrough said is “essentially 85 percent all natural.” (It includes synthetic weed control.) Either way, consumers can sign up for the boxes, and the company sends them a box each month. “We do all the scientific stuff on the back end,” Scarbrough said.

The Subscription Boxes

In signing up for the service, consumers can pick from multiple plan options — traditional, mostly natural and all natural. And Scarbrough said they can technically switch between them whenever they want. Both options are key features of top subscription innovators: According to the PYMNTS Subscription Commerce Conversion Index, 95 percent of the top 20 performers in Q4 2018 offered plan options. And the same share of innovators had plan changes over the same period.

At the time of sign-up, consumers can then size their lawn (with the link to My Yard Size) and provide that information on the sign-up process. They enter their payment information along with their grass type, which varies between the North and the South climates. (The company does ask customers to select their states from a drop-down menu.) Consumers can choose to pay every month or per year (the latter option comes with a discount), and the site accepts credit as well as debit cards for payment.

A customer’s first order will contain both product and a soil test kit that comes with instructions and a prepaid envelope. They will then go around their yard and take composites of dirt and put it in the envelope, which goes to the company’s soil testing lab. The company’s team can then start to work on customizing plans and what products consumers will get based on their soil deficiencies.

The Market

The company’s average customer age ranges from 25 to 65 — from millennials, a generation that might be expected to sign up for subscription box, to seniors. In addition, the product can be bought as a gift. For instance, Scarbrough said, a Lawn Serv subscription could make a great gift this Father’s Day for dads, to change it up from ties and socks. (The company is promoting its service as a Father’s Day gift.) At the same time, the company differentiates itself by providing a product that is custom-tailored to the lawns of its customers.

Scarbrough points out, too, that consumers who might go to a home improvement store might not go in with a soil test or the square footage of their yards. They also have to drive to those locations, while his service allows the product to be delivered. Beyond subscriptions, the company also has a range of non-recurring offerings: It sells grass seed, hoses and sprinklers on an individual basis through the “other products” section of its website.

With the help of subscription offerings and a la carte options, eCommerce merchants are looking to change the way consumers buy lawn care products and maintain their properties in the digital age.

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