Subscription services are not a novel idea. "X-of-the-month club" services have been around for quite some time. Long before the advent of the internet, stores sold wine, CDs, books, and food. Subscription-based products, on the other hand, have grown in popularity in recent years. What was once considered a quirky fringe concept has now gained widespread acceptance.
According to McKinsey & Company, 15% of online shoppers have subscribed to an eCommerce service in the last year, and 46% have subscribed to a digital service (Netflix, Spotify, etc.)
The subscription eCommerce economy has grown at a 100 percent or greater year over year rate for several years. In 2011, it was valued at $57 million.
This article will explain what a subscription product is, why it is beneficial to businesses, and how to start and manage your subscription product.
What is a Subscription Product?
A subscription product is one in which a customer pays a one-time fee and is then billed regularly. Subscription products are becoming increasingly popular, and as more customers accept this model, they will become even more so.
Existing eCommerce stores that use a traditional sales model are in a much better position for offering subscription products than start-up subscription businesses. You probably already have some cash flow and the majority of the infrastructure to provide a box. This implies treating your subscription service as a marathon rather than a sprint. There is no need for 10,000 members to run out of runway next week. You'll be able to scale up at a reasonable rate, which will give you plenty of time to perfect your process and inventory management.
Most importantly, you already have a customer base to whom you can market your subscription service. They already trust you (because they've purchased from you before) and are open to your marketing. Offering subscription products has three major benefits:
Increases customer loyalty by increasing the number of successful interactions between your business and its customers.
Increase cash flow: with subscription items, your customers do not have to pay in advance; instead, they must pay overtime, allowing you to earn recurring revenue.
As a revenue stream: Allowing new customers to subscribe to your product is an excellent way to generate additional revenue from a wide range of client segments.
Which items are more suitable for subscriptions? Because there are various types of subscription products, which products are best for subscriptions? Of course, this varies by business, but in general, it must be a product that your customer consumes regularly or one that is expensive to purchase initially.
What Types of Subscription Products Should You Offer?
Of course, the best subscription products are those that your customers need to buy regularly. Consider offering subscription products that correspond to your client's values. A coffee shop with adventurous customers, for example, might offer a monthly mystery subscription with a different roast in each package. A coffee shop that doesn't want to run out of coffee, on the other hand, might let customers choose their favorite bean and roast.
We can't tell you exactly what to sell, but we can give you some pointers. With consumable or disposable products, the subscription eCommerce model works well. This category includes products that regularly wear out and must be replaced. You're probably aware of how effective replenishment emails are at convincing customers to reorder if you send them. With a subscription option, customers' reordering process is simply automated.
Items such as pet food, paper products, batteries, activewear, cleaning products, foods, and beverages that your clients will consume, use up, or wear out
Items such as party decorations, children's toys, kitchen gadgets, or greeting cards are not destroyed but are only used once or for a short period
Items such as clothing, shoes, ties, music, accessories, phone cases, and so on, which people tend to replace regularly. People frequently want to replace these items to try out new fashions and trends or to display a different aspect of their personality
Determine which products will be available as a subscription. Begin with one or two product offerings to see what works and how customers react. If your company sells more than one product or has plans to expand, that doesn't mean you can't sell all of your items as a subscription. Begin with the one best suited to the audience you're attempting to persuade. This could be your best-selling item or a brand-new product you're testing
If you decide to sell subscription products, you'll need a program to keep track of your sales and operations. Doing so manually may be inconvenient if you only have a few customers. As your subscription product and subscriber base expand, you must manage them or they will become unmanageable
One of the most difficult components is billing, especially if you are into offering subscription products of multiple versions with the option to customize what goes in the box or meet specific customer requirements
Allow people to test products before purchasing them. Are your customers ready to commit to a subscription? Request that they buy for a month so that they can try it out and see if they like it
Encourage customers to tell their friends about your products. Considering to manage your subscription products with a strategy for clients to refer you to others
Another option is to send a special discount with the merchandise if they refer more people or recommend your product to their friends. This is very useful if you want to scale quickly. It would generate a network effect that would aid in the promotion and, ultimately, growth of your product
Verify that all product items are visible. Is it possible for a subscriber to receive your product if they sign up on the 9th of the month and you deliver on the 11th? Can they change their address or cancel their subscription if a customer travels? Consider this and make sure your clients are aware of it to better understand how your subscription works
Best Practices to Manage Your Subscription Products
Before you start selling things via subscription in your store, keep these basic practices in mind.
A. Maintain Your Sector or Specialization Focus
Image is taken from Strikingly
Make sure the subscription product you select complements the rest of your store. Begin marketing a product that your customers will not purchase simply because it is compatible with their subscription.
If your store sells home goods, don't just slap on a coffee box because coffee is well-suited to the subscription model. Look for something that will complement your current business.
B. Meet Your Clients to Discuss their Needs
Before investing in a subscription service, ask your clients about their needs and desires. Conduct telephone interviews and distribute questionnaires. Most importantly, determine how your clients will use the subscription product. Consider a subscription service for pet toys. You will send two to three toys each month. That's fantastic for customers who have pets who chew or break their toys, but they won't sign up for the subscription if they don't have destructive pets. You can also test your subscription products by making them available first to your VIP customers. If they like it, make it available to the rest of your clientele.
C. Allow Customers to Test Products Before Purchasing Them
It's understandable that persuading customers to sign up for monthly service is more difficult than selling them a one-time item. They want to see and feel the product before deciding if it is worth their money in the long run. Making your subscription products available for one-time payment is an excellent way to allow people to test the waters.
D. Encourage Customers to Refer a Friend to Join
Do you have a difficult-to-buy-for friend or loved one? It's something everyone does. Subscription products and boxes are becoming increasingly popular as a convenient way to give someone something meaningful and useful without spending time researching a product category.
E. Confirm that All of Your Terms are Clear
Can customers receive their orders if they sign up on the 12th and you ship on the 15th? Is it possible to get a refund if they cancel on the 4th after you bill on the 1st and ship on the 7th? These are complex issues that a typical eCommerce store would not have to deal with, but they become significant issues for subscription products. Make a calendar with dates for when you'll bill, ship, refund, prorate, cancel, etc.
Creating a Subscription Website with Strikingly
Strikingly is an excellent way to get your subscription business website up and running. While many platforms claim to be membership website builders, only a few are specifically designed for the inexperienced creative or small business owner who is uncomfortable with coding and technology. Strikingly is a great example of a website connecting ambitious webmasters to their target audiences. Strikingly provides everything you'll need to "create your website in minutes." A basic website is easy to set up, but what if you want to offer your customers a premium membership subscription service?
You can add a subscription function to your website using Strikingly. However, when designing a membership website, consider both free and paid registration options. Starting a subscription products business can also pay you monthly! If you create a Paid Subscription Membership on your website, your visitors will be able to become members by making a recurring payment. Then you can give premium members access to content that only they have access to. Paid Membership is an excellent way to provide recurring content or launch a subscription service. You can create many membership tiers with different prices and discounts for quarterly or yearly subscriptions.
Subscription products in eCommerce aren't going away anytime soon. Is a subscription model appropriate for your business? Only you can answer that, but given their popularity, especially among younger generations, it's a reasonable question to ask. If you sell consumable, throwaway, or frequently swapped/upgraded products, a subscription service may be a good fit for your store.