Subscription-based business models aren’t just for trendy online retailers anymore. Any e-commerce business with a suite of products to sell can add a subscription service to an existing sales model. Adding this service not only provides value to the customer but also builds an atmosphere of trust and loyalty around your brand. While implementing a subscription-based business model takes ample planning and consideration, let’s examine whether the juice is worth the squeeze.
Through the use of subscriptions, online stores are able to better forecast monthly sales and revenue by their existing customer, while at the same time build a loyal customer following as opposed to hit-or-miss and one-time purchases. Online sales can be fickle. Customers jump from site to site, often searching for the best price or best quality product. The lure of lower prices or flashy marketing from competitors can result in lost customers. Subscription models help to entice the buyer with added-value, keeping customers engaged. Through the use of subscriptions, customers can try new products, save money on familiar ones, and enjoy the convenience of having everything delivered on a predictable schedule. Adding value to the customer experience can turn that fickle buyer into a long-term customer.
Another benefit to both parties is the increased capacity for cross-selling and upselling. This is a challenge in a regular sales scheme; introducing the buyer to new items or higher-priced products in a different way. By simply combining those new products with bestsellers and old favorites, the customer is given an incentive to purchase something they would otherwise not consider. You enjoy a larger sale, and the customer gets what they want, and then some.
Subscription-based models are nothing new, they have been around since the early 2000s and have gained tremendous popularity within the last ten years. They can help add a stress-free customer experience when products they need to show up at their doorstep just in time. Businesses that focus on subscriptions as an overall sales model often experience higher brand loyalty and increased customer retention. Giving the buyer a unique, branded experience, will push them to come back for more.
Brand loyalty is ultimately about the customer experience. And when the customer has a great experience, they’re going to stick around. Subscriptions, when done right, tie the customer to your brand and the brand to the customer.
While offering subscriptions for your goods just might be a winning idea, there are several things to consider before implementing this additional sales model.
Looking at your existing sales trends is big here. Considering your current customer base and how your products sell will give you a window into what to offer up as a subscription. Surveying those already loyal to your brand on social media or through email campaigns is another great way to get some insight into what they really want.
On the flip side, letting the buyer customize their own subscription works well too. Just be cognizant of inventory shortages if sudden spikes in demand are not accounted for. When going this route, keeping the choices to a certain list of items is the best way to go. In this way, it will be easier to keep up with demand.
After choosing which subscription model is best, decide how many different options to offer and what products to include. This can be done in a tiered fashion. Whether organized by price or quality of goods, giving customers several options ensures a greater likelihood of success.
Depending on your products, subscriptions can be set to ship out according to any timetable you choose. Retailers can offer deliveries monthly, 60 days, 90 days, 6 months – it’s really a matter of deciding what makes the most sense for your brand and your fulfillment operation. The shipment timetable can be affected by several factors. Considering current sales trends, again, is a large part of the decision-making process. It is essential to ensure ample inventory levels at all times, especially for high-turnover products.
Personalizing the order like you would a gift, gives customers the feeling of being special. That’s a huge part of the whole unboxing experience. Presenting your products in such a way emphasizes positive feelings around your brand, building trust in your business. Whether packaging and shipping are handled in-house, or you choose to use a 3PL company to fulfill your orders, this part of the process should be planned with care.
Should you decide to pack and ship in-house, ensure that your logistics team has the capacity to handle the job. The fulfillment of subscription-based models needs to be an organized process as these orders can require special packaging and specific shipping dates. Alternatively, using a 3PL fulfillment company can be cost-effective and takes the burden of packaging and timely shipping off your shoulders. Be sure to check out our guide on What to Know When Selecting the Right Ecommerce Fulfillment Partner article before making any moves.
Don’t wait for more customers and increased sales to come to you. Explore if a subscription program that spoils your current customers and draws in new ones is something that makes sense for your brand. Port Logistics Group, a leader in D2C ecommerce fulfillment, offers a full suite of value-added services including kitting and assembly, tagging/labeling, specialized packaging, shrink wrapping, overwrapping, repackaging, personalized note, etc. We have experts available to help in all areas related to subscription-based fulfillment, contact us today.