What Are Subscription Services And Should You Start One As A Retailer?

By Paul Wynter August 8, 2020

It’s no surprise that the retail marketing is changing to be more focused on online access, and pretty much everyone wit ha credit card does a little bit of shopping online. A lot of retailers have switched to basic online shopping to accommodate this. But a new trend is in town and it might be one that you’ll want to adopt sooner rather than later. You’ve seen them before, you just may not know that you have: subscription services.

What is a subscription service?

You have heard of a subscription service before — Netflix and Cause Box are two great examples — but there are various kinds of subscription services that you can consider implanting into your retail service. You don’t need to go with an option that just doesn’t work the way that you want or need it to. Your options include:

• Custom/curated subscriptions: A wonderful option to consider for those retailers that focus on personalized products (clothing, for instance) is a subscription service where customers are able to have regular amounts of your products coming to them when they want or need, all personalized to them. The best example of this is Stitch Fix, though it can be applied to various kinds of retail models.

• Refill subscriptions: There’s nothing more annoying for a customer than to have to remember to order more razor blades or shampoo. One of the best examples of modern subscription services right now is dedicated to refills. For everything from contact lenses to toothbrushes, you can entertain customers by offering timed refills that are sent out and billed automatically as per the customer’s requests. No more thinking for them and easy fulfillment for you.

• VIP content subscriptions: While thought to be less popular, specifically with retailers that sell physical products, VIP subscriptions are also an option gaining popularity. For a regular fee, customers get access to (true) exclusive content. For some, this could be advanced access to hot new products, or perhaps a built-in discount. This subscription is more about priority treatment and access rather than the product itself.

Why you’re going to want to engage with subscription services

This all sounds great, buy why should you change the way that you sell your products? You’re still getting customers and they love what you do. However subscription services are great additions to the business that you’re already doing. Considered to be major upgrade you don’t need to change your practices or do anything other than just let customers know that you do offer a subscription service. Here are some of the best perks it’ll bring you.

• It’s a great way to give customers maximum value for their money: Customers love getting a deal, especially when it comes to online shopping. If you offer a subscription service that gives them replacement products or curated products with, for instance, free shipping every time they are sent out, it’s a great way to still get full market value, but keep your customers spending their money regularly with you.

• It helps prove you as a trustworthy brand: When you offer subscription services that aren’t astronomically priced, it also helps prove that you’re a trustworthy retailers. You have fair prices, modern services that cater to customer needs, and you also follow through on those by your customers actually getting their subscriptions free of damage or harm or trickery. This also makes them a lot more likely to recommend you to friends and family who are on the hunt.

• It helps predict future income: One of the best perks, especially in these uncertain times, is that it helps you get a better feel for future income. You’ll be able to know how many customers have subscriptions, how often they are set to charge their accounts, and that will help you better budge your income to make better business decisions down the road. You’ll also be ale to use it for analytics based on what most people are requesting.

How to start out with your subscription service

If you’re interested in getting involved with the concept of a subscription service for your business but don’t know where to start, here are a few general pointers to make sure that you are going about it the right way.

• Remember to keep the prices low: One of the biggest things is going to be the base price that you set. A lot of retailers want to really make their buck off of these, but pricing them high is just going to deter your customers from signing up if there’s a hefty fee. A great option is to keep the subscription — assuming it’s a refill or curated option — free and just charge them for the price of the item and shipping when the order it. If it’s a VIP subscription, keep it cheap so that they can see the perks financially.

• Offer different tiers and packages: Regardless of what kind of subscription service you are considering, go for something like tiered packages. Maybe some include free shipping or a discount on the products themselves. Or maybe, extra fast deliver, etc. The price per tier would go up accordingly, but if offers customers choice and comfort in getting what they consider to be vest value for their money.

• Combine it with discounts or a loyalty program: Since customers are always reeled in by a deal, combine a subscription program with either a loyalty program or even exclusive members-only discounts. It’s a great way for customers to grab your subscription sooner rather than alter and it also means they’ll come to you over a competitor because you have a better price with their built-in discount.

Regardless of how you look at it, subscription services are the way to get your customers to enjoy shopping with you and to, most importantly, keep coming back time and time again. Make it a no-brainer by putting into place the right kind of subscription service for your retail business. Your customers will love it as much as you will.

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