Why you should be offering subscription products
As I'm sure you're already very aware, eCommerce is a rapidly evolving industry where as a store owner you have to be constantly changing to keep up with consumer demands. The ways in which customers can purchase, and repeat purchase products is always advancing with payment options now making it easy for store owners to offer a wide range of payment options to accomodate every wallet. Subscription products is one advancement that while, hasn't been widely inherited by many stores, is an offering that's attractive to customers, purely because of the convenience. So if it's not something you're already taking advantage of, it's certainly something you should consider.
There are some pretty compelling facts related to subscription products, like the fact that 81% of UK households order them, up from 65% just 2 years ago. Or that the subscription product market is worth over 470 million euros today, has a growth rate of 23%, and is expected to be worth over 2 billion euros in 2025. With such an incredible rate of growth, and subscriptions clearly being something that's of high interest to customers, it's a section of the market every store owner should be looking to take advantage of. Technically it doesn't represent a great deal of work to implement, it has the advantage of offering an element of guaranteed income to your business, and it's very convenient for the customer.
What products can I offer as a subscription?
There's very little reason not to be offering subscription products, but it's certainly true that not every product line lends itself to a subscription model. But actually, a surprising number do - if you have products that customers tend to repeat purchase fairly regularly, then those are certainly lines you could consider offering as a subscription, alongside the normal one-off purchase.
Another popular way to offer a subscription option to customers is to bundle certain products together to offer if you like a 'service', and we can see offerings like HelloFresh finding great success with this model.
There's really no limit to how you might want to offer subscription products, but the key is that however you do it, it's got to be something that's convenient for the customer. Perhaps it's a product they use regularly but can easily forget to reorder, or maybe it solves a problem for instance 'what am I going to cook tonight' in the case of HelloFresh. Whatever approach you choose, if it makes your customers' lives easier, they're likely to be interested in the subscription you're offering.
What are customers looking for in eCommerce subscriptions?
eCommerce subscriptions are not so much about cost for the customer, but more about value. If you're delivering great value for money in the subscription product then the customer is more likely to signup. You might for example offer a range of smaller size products to the customer - for instance a selection of beauty products which changes each month similar to something like what Glossybox offers. Or maybe you'll give the customer a discount on a product for signing up to a subscription for a certain amount of time.
A subscription can also be a great way for people to try something new. You might for instance decide to offer a subscription of trial-sized products based around lines which already sell well on your store. This can present an easy way for customers to try something new in a cost-effective way which can also result in better sales of products included in the box that the customer doesn't usually buy.
If you want to offer a more complex subscription offering, you could offer the ability to customise subscriptions to follow a theme or type of product. For instance a chocolate subscription might be customisable to be focussed around dark, milk or white.
Ultimately offering the customer a personalised experience, value for money, and an attractive range of products is great combination when considering what to make available to customers as a subscription offering.
What are the benefits to my business?
Subscription products can really help to establish your business as a leader in your space. Offering a great quality, wide range of subscriptions can really help to establish your business as an influencer in your space. Continually offering solid, popular product lines can really help your business to be seen as expert in the field, and help to attract new customers purely for your subscription offerings.
Another benefit is that it adds stability to your business. Subscriptions means you have guaratanteed income, as well as a better ability to analyse stock requirements which makes ordering stock more accurate, and reduces waste.
In addition subscriptions give you the opportunity to better cross and up sell products in order to drive more one-off sales of product lines. By providing the customer with a new product they haven't tried before, but really enjoyed, automatically increases the chances of that customer purchasing the product again.
eCommerce subcriptions are certainly going to increase in the future, and if there's any product lines your store stocks that would work well for a subscription, it's certainly worth giving it a go. Subscriptions won't work, or perhaps even be practical for every business, but as an area of eCommerce that's seeing such singnificant growth, it makes complete sense to leverage the opportunity if you can.
So, have a look at your product lines to see if there are any that lend themselves to a subscription model, and maybe even consider combining lines to offer a subscription box if that makes sense. Above all offer value, the right products, and an element of personalisation if you can, and you'll probably find a winning formula.