SUBSCRIPTION MODELS: DO THEY REALLY WORK?

Subscription services are becoming increasingly popular in e-commerce stores. 

While subscriptions used to be only for the media, such as magazines or television channels, they are now available for products as varied as toilet paper, coffee, clothes or even fruits and vegetables.  It is still a fairly new way of offering products and services for e-commerce, but it is growing rapidly.  There are more than 2,000 subscription box services in the digital marketplace as of 2016, and it continues to grow.  This method mainly attracts younger people, as they are interested in getting a complete shopping experience.  You can see this trend in fewer car owners and more ride-sharing companies or smaller DVD collections, but subscriptions to Netflix, HBO and soon Disney+. 

SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE BENEFICIAL FOR EVERYONE

Subscription services are good for you and your customers.  Your customers save time and often money by having something they want regularly, delivered directly to your door.  The business owner benefits from increased profit margins by going direct to the consumer.

We all know that getting customers to sign up for a recurring subscription service is a big investment.  They're also a great way to establish loyalty systems, such as referrals from friends and discounts for larger purchases.  Knowing what your customer is currently willing to spend is a good starting point for selling it with the next subscription level. 

The other advantage of subscriptions is that, depending on their content, you can often use boxes to test new products on your customer.

WHAT ARE SUBSCRIBERS LOOKING FOR?

PRE-SELECTION 

If you make the selection of articles for your clients on a monthly basis and confirm that this is starting to give results, it is very likely that you will get more clients over time, so you would also have to improve your pre-selections.

CONVENIENCE

One of the biggest attractions for customers when it comes to subscription boxes is how convenient they are.  They appear on your doorstep at home or at your office just when you expect them.  Allowing your customers to choose how often they want their subscription to be completed can help increase the amount of your sales.

NO CONTRACT

If you give your customers the option to log in and out of subscriptions whenever they want, you're likely to attract a lot more attention.  But, you would have to devise systems for your customers to stay in your subscription-service, perhaps giving them better prices for a four-month plan than a one-month plan, or also increasing the number of items the longer they are part of the subscription program.

GIFT OPTIONS

Offer subscriptions as time-limited gifts, such as 3 or 6 months, and allow the buyer to enter a different shipping address than the billing address.  Consider including the option of writing a note on behalf of the gift donor.  Also, if the recipient likes your stuff, you have another potential repeat customer.

UNBOXING EXPERIENCE

An "unboxing experience" means going beyond the brown boxes and packing tape of the shipping company.  When you create a memorable experience for your customers, they are more likely to stay true to your brand, recommend others, and keep coming back for more.

DIVERSIFY TO MITIGATE RISK

It's risky to start any business, but because subscriptions are often based on very particular niches and require a lot of logistics, it can be particularly difficult to get off the ground.  One way to lower risk is to offer a subscription service along with the traditional buy-by-product model.

Many large companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target are starting to offer subscription boxes in addition to their entire stores.  Music services such as Spotify allow premium subscribers unlimited access to music, while their regular users have more limited options.  The question is one of brand and viability.  Many subscription services focus their brand directly on the fact that they are subscription-only.  Having a great product and marketing plan, and leaving no choice but to subscribe, means that your customers are automatically returning; however, it is not always feasible, especially for new companies that are finding their market.

HOW CAN I START OFFERING SUBSCRIPTIONS WITH MY SHOPIFY STORE?

Shopify does not currently have the ability to offer subscriptions within its main platform, but you can get it with the right application.

The next thing to consider is packaging and shipping.  Subscription services often include some custom touch, so design a package that makes someone feel like they're getting a gift every month.  Be sure to keep it as small and light as possible for what you're selling.

Are you currently implementing subscription services in your Shopify store?  Comment below and let us know!

 

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