One of the biggest trends in business services in the last several years is the deployment of subscription box services. For examples of this business model, look to companies like Harry’s, known for their men’s shaving products, and Birchbox, a women’s beauty products subscription service. Both pages are great displays of incorporating this type of product offering into one’s business model. Each has utilized this strategy to create massive business opportunities.
By their very nature, they allow customers to go from one-time purchasers to long-time brand users. Often times, subscription boxes are paid out on a yearly basis, meaning that every customer that signs up for them is a guaranteed revenue stream for that time period, so long as they don’t cancel.
While not every online business has the capabilities to include this in their strategy, those looking to take their e-commerce business to the next level could certainly find success in this market. However, just because a customer has purchased a subscription box, doesn’t mean you’ve completely won them over. Just like any other product offering, your business should be ready to support your customers throughout their entire subscription.
In order to provide the best service to your customers, there are a few things to take into consideration, including strategies to incorporate into your business model that will put you a cut above the competition.
Understand Your Customers
What makes subscription boxes so successful is they fulfill the instant gratification that consumers are often looking for. A great example of this is the way entertainment has changed over the past years. Originally, going to movie rental stores was common; then Netflix started to offer their own style of subscription services, mailing movies directly to consumers. Now there’s no longer movie mailing, as everything can be streamed directly from a smartphone or device.
This reflects the way technology is impacting the broader market. Customers are used to having their needs met almost instantly, and as technology improves, services are going to be provided even faster. Subscription boxes for e-commerce stores serve as a way to fulfill these needs. If implementing subscription boxes can save your customers time and money, you’re more likely to be their go-to option.
Furthermore, consumers are more likely to have access to financial services that make them more capable of paying for subscription services. For many, subscription boxes used to mean another bill to pay at the end of the month, which might have turned customers away from them. However, with the newest services provided in the digital banking industry, such as auto-payment processing and safer alternatives to overdraft protection, consumers are often left feeling more secure about joining a subscription service and letting their payments manage themselves.
Understand Your Niche
Not every product is fit for a subscription box service. It may be the case that your company simply would not benefit from utilizing this strategy. This isn’t a bad thing, but failing to understand this could lead to wasting money trying to implement subscription services for products that customers don’t want or need a subscription for.
The value of a subscription service for a business is widely determined by the lifespan of the product being offered. The most successful subscription services usually are for consumable, short-term products, such as food, toiletries, and other items that are thrown out within a month. By providing a subscription box for these types of items, you prevent your customers from needing to go to the store every month to buy monthly necessities.
Other successful subscription boxes focus not on needs or disposable goods, but on common wants that people might have on a monthly basis, such as new clothes, accessories, and gadgets. These “self-gifts” make perfect subscription boxes, because they give customers something to look forward to every month. They’re essentially like receiving a Christmas gift every month of the year! Therefore, if you sell these types of items, look into ways to make your subscription boxes more of a surprise for your customers, so they can find excitement in receiving them on a monthly basis.
On the other hand, if your company sells products that are designed to last long-term, subscription boxes should not be your go-to. Items such as home appliances and furniture, and larger, more expensive pieces of technology, would generally not fit well with a subscription box strategy.
Find Your Platform
With subscription boxes becoming increasingly popular, services are now available for those looking to add this extra layer to their business. One option available is Amazon’s subscription box service, which can be implemented in your business’ Amazon store. This can be especially useful for those businesses that are already selling on Amazon and want to work with a platform they are used to and trust.
You can also look into creating your own online store, or adding subscription boxes to your online store if you already have one. While a bit more complicated, this strategy pays off in the long run as it allows you to establish your footing on a website that reflects your brand and image. It also allows you to build a marketing strategy around your website, and incorporate new marketing strategies into your business, such as SEO, blogging, and lead generation through Google ads.
Incentivize Long-Term Subscriptions
In order to get the most out of a subscription box strategy, you need to provide an incentive for your customers to choose the longest contracts. Customers who pay on a month-to-month basis are more likely to cancel and drop the service early than a customer who signs on for one year. Therefore, you need to make choosing the longer-term subscription a more useful option.
One way to do this is by including discounts on your six or twelve-month subscriptions. For example, if your subscription box costs $10 every month, you could make your one-year subscription plan cost only $110, meaning your customers save an extra $10 a year by going long term with your subscription box. You can also frame it as a “one-month free” offer instead if you feel this would appear like a better deal for your customers.
You should also allow for easy returns, which can make customers feel safer choosing long-term options. For example, if your subscription box offers one new t-shirt design every month, your customers should have the option to return designs they don’t like, preventing them from feeling “locked into a purchase”, making them more likely to choose to pay for your subscription on a yearly basis.
While this business model is still relatively new, it’s a popular trend, and hopping on it now while it’s still growing could mean a lot of great success for your business. Remember to always take your customer’s needs into consideration first and foremost, and optimize your business to serve them best. A successful subscription box service could mean building a solid long-term relationship with your customers and will help create a great brand culture of people eager to buy more from you.