Subscription Bananas

Having been in the eCommerce technology space for some time now, I’ve often thought that it would be awesome to start an actual eCommerce business.

I remember reading a profile on an outdoorswear brand. I believe it was started by two guys who were best friends or roommates or something and they just loved the outdoors, and started to curate all of their favorite products. That eventually turned into their ecom brand.

They had a passionate community built up around their brand that reflected the passion they had for the outdoors.

I remember thinking damn I wish I had something I was that passionate about. One of the problems about working too hard is you don’t end up with enough hobbies.

I think I might have finally landed on something that could be interesting…

Subscription bananas.

Sounds kind of silly I know…but let me explain.

As our family has been trying to do a better job of eating healthy, we’re eating a lot more fruit and less processed fruit. Apples and bananas are our main go-to’s.

Bananas are just fantastic. A perfectly ripe banana is incredible. Tastes amazing. Good for you. Kids love them, babies love them (we have a 1 year old - one of the few things he reliably loves). They’re just perfect.

But here’s the problem - it’s impossible to have ripe bananas stocked at your house throughout the week. If you buy them once a week, they are either green the 1st half of the week and disgusting or they’re brown the 2nd half of the week and equally disgusting.

If you have the discipline to go shopping twice a week just to have good bananas on hand (which would be entirely reasonable by the way), you’re still sometimes screwed because the ripeness level of bananas at the store on any given day is highly variable.

The solution…a subscription banana service. Here are a few things I love about this business idea:

I love the product

Okay we’ve already established this in the above section, but wanted to add it to the list for completeness.

Subscription revenue

One of the things in general I’ve not loved about “standard” eCommerce business models is their lack of recurring revenue, which I’m a big fan of. A subscription model obviously solves that.

It’s simple

It’s simple and straightforward. Not overcomplicated. Look at online grocery delivery as a whole–multiple orders of magnitude more complicated as you have to support so many different types of food requiring various degrees of refrigeration and handling, with margins that are paper thin.

But not too simple

Although it’s a simple idea and a single product to sell, there’s still enough complication on the supply chain side of things to make it interesting. I’d imagine that negotiating with suppliers is probably a bit of a nightmare in general. And the fact that bananas don’t arrive at grocery stores uniformly ripe already probably means that doing so is complicated.

Would you need to warehouse your own inventory with camera monitoring to know exactly how ripe your bananas are? Or would you be able to get away with just reselling from other suppliers mostly.

Any time you have a perishable product that you’re selling, things can get complicated quickly, much more so than just selling bits and bytes on the internet.

It’s green!

It never hurts when you can do something that’s good for the environment. I think that people are increasingly aware of how much food waste there is in the modern world. One of the beautiful things about a subscription model is that you would be wasting precisely 0% of your inventory if you do things right, whereas normal food retailers–try as they might to predict demand–will never do it perfectly.

It’s healthy!

Another great benefit is that you can’t get much more natural or healthy than just selling fruit.

So that’s the idea…what do you think!?

p.s. If anyone knows anything about supply chain logistics around produce, I’d love to chat!