New Scottish online subscription service giftbox launched

Amy McCusker
Amy McCusker

WeeBox, a new Scottish gift online subscription service has been launched with the aim to connect expats, or those with Scottish heritage, to Scotland.

Offering a monthly gift box of curated Scottish products, wrapped in popular national newspapers, WeeBox appeals to both those living at home to send as a gift, or those living abroad.

Founded by Amy McCusker, a former management consultant from Glasgow, the start-up business holds three core objectives: Deliver exceptional customer service in providing high quality gifts; showcase and raise awareness of great Scottish brands in foreign markets, and deliver on its founder’s commitments to social responsibility among the Scottish community.

The first of its kind in terms of product offering, WeeBox has launched to compete in the flourishing subscription commerce market, an industry that has grown over 3000% in the US over the past 3 years according to Internet Retailer. Recognised for their convenience in gifts being delivered direct to the recipient, together with the element of surprise of the products selection, interest in subscription box services has grown steadily across the globe. WeeBox, in curating boxes to include both iconic and lesser known creative brands, aims to delight and taps into the pride and fondness those with a connection to the country, feel for Scotland.

Founder Amy McCusker explained how the idea for WeeBox was formed:

“Having travelled the world, meeting fellow Scots abroad, it was always clear that there was a strong sense of pride and love for our glorious Scotland. The idea was sparked one day when I was sending my brother a Scottish care package to Australia where he now live. It was very expensive and I knew I couldn’t do it often, and thought there must be a better way.

“I have lived abroad myself, and it was always the biggest thrill to receive little mindings from home, whether it be the Sunday paper, tattie scones, or even some tablet – things you couldn’t get abroad and things that made you feel proud and happy. As soon as I started talking about the concept to friends, family and my expat network, I knew we had hit on something really special.”

WeeBox has been building momentum since its soft launch in New York last month. As a member of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Made in Manhattan’ cohort of ambitious growth oriented businesses, WeeBox carried out relevant market research and established a number of valuable connections.

During the trip, the business secured a presence at the 206th St. Andrews Banquet held by the highly regarded St Andrew’s Society of the State of New York. Introducing its products to a discerning audience of those with strong Scottish connections, WeeBox was well received on the night.

Richard Muir, Deputy Chief Executive at Glasgow City Chamber of Commerce, commented:

“We were delighted to have WeeBox as part of this historic “Made in Manhattan” delegation to provide an opportunity to open up new markets and boost the company’s international trade connections in one of the most exciting cities on the planet. WeeBox truly captured the imagination of guests and speakers alike at the prestigious 260th St Andrew’s Banquet of the St Andrew’s Society of the State of New York. Promoting all that Scotland has to offer, WeeBox is sure to be an asset to many of our members and other Scottish producers looking to expand their international customer base. We wish WeeBox every success”

The market for WeeBox is significant. According to the UN in 2015, it’s estimated that there are around 5 million people born in the UK, with 10% of those from Scotland, living abroad. In addition, there is the huge student market, with thousands of young people travelling abroad as part of their academic careers each year, and the wider Scottish diaspora existing in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and spread around the world. Notably for WeeBox, as identified by online data and behaviour research firm Hitwise, during the Christmas holiday season in 2015, 8.6 million Americans (4.3 percent of the online population), 2.2 million Brits (1.8 percent) and 192,000 Australians (1.2 percent) visited one of the 127 sites in the Hitwise subscription box shopping custom industry.

The monthly subscriptions service, sending gifts to those abroad, plans to build a global community of customers. WeeBox’s ambitious customer acquisition strategy focuses on establishing the brand in the geographical markets that present the greatest opportunity, through social media communications and partnerships with cultural and sporting events.

Recognising the importance of repeat custom to the business, WeeBox’s founder is committed to curating boxes that consistently deliver amazing, emotive experiences time and again. To do this, she is exploring collaborations with famous Scots and brands, while retaining its brand of delivering a gift that surprises, makes the recipient proud, and makes them laugh.

“We have some amazing Scottish brands producing fantastic products and I’m excited to work with these brands to share their products, as part of a WeeBox, with Scots and Scots-at-heart around the world. We’re steering clear of products that might be gimmicky. I want the people who receive WeeBox to be delighted with their boxes every single time, to look forward to the box arriving each month. As such, I am working hard to research and establish connections with brands – large and small – to ensure our customers’ expectations are exceeded every time,” McCusker added.

The idea of giving back to the Scottish community is part of the fabric of the WeeBox brand. Its founder is personally committed to supporting Save the Children in their work to help the 1 in 5 Scottish children living in poverty through the Eat Sleep Play Learn programme, an early-intervention crisis grant programme run by the charity. As the former Head of Community at Capgemini and Chair of the Prince’s Trust Edinburgh Fundraising Board, McCusker has a strong background in corporate social responsibility and corporate caregiving and will apply these skills to ensure WeeBox becomes a significant part of the corporate caregiving community.

“It’s vital for me personally to ensure that WeeBox plays its part in helping Scotland’s children and families. The Eat Sleep Play Learn programme by Save the Children is doing great work in supporting the healthy development of children by working to reduce the impact of material deprivation on children’s learning in the home. The overwhelmingly positive reaction by the people we met in New York to this side of our WeeBox venture, makes me confident that it is important for our customers and potential customers too, which is fantastic,” said McCusker.

With the first box curated in honour of St. Andrew’s Day, WeeBox, wrapped in Scottish newspapers, offers people everything they need to enjoy an evening of celebration, and the morning after. Customers receive a gift that features products from Lost Distilleries, Geoffrey Taylor, AJ Barr, Nick Nairn, Brave Scottish Gifts and Pipsqueak Preserves. The next box, in time for the annual celebration of Robert Burns, will be themed around the famous poet and accompanying traditions, helping recipients abroad host their very own Burns Supper.