The key driver behind any successful subscription commerce strategy has the right infrastructure in place.
Having the right technology in place will increase the likelihood of a customer remaining subscribed. Additionally, easy self-service capabilities will relieve pressure on your customer service teams.
In 2018, the End of Ownership report from Zoura (as reported by Whistl) suggested that “74% of UK adults wish companies made it easier for them to self-manage their subscriptions. “
Our research with YouGov has confirmed that customers have identified the most important features of subscription services. UK adults want “an ability to adjust the frequency of delivery” (48%), an “ability to change delivery dates to suit my preferences” (46%), “easy refund options” (40%), and “an ability to set personal preferences” (38%). Additionally, almost a third (31%) of shoppers want a preview option that allows them to see what could be included within their upcoming subscription box.
While it is clear that a self-managed subscription service is an optimum solution, in our experience, too many retailers are relying on subscription technology that doesn’t align with wider infrastructure. Conflicts between platforms could cause automation to fail and result in a poor experience for the end customer.
We identified four key areas where technology can galvanise a subscription commerce strategy
Frictionless Payments: As with any ecommerce strategy, the payment section is crucial to ensuring that your customer can easily subscribe to your service. Previously, we’ve discussed the importance of installing two-step cancellation processes to prevent passive churn caused by outdated card payments or other card issues. It’s also important to think carefully about how your subscription payments are taken – both in terms of frequency but also payment type.
User-generated Content: Today’s customers rely on user-generated content to help them make informed purchasing decisions. From the integration of Trustpilot reviews and ratings, testimonials, and real-life imagery, user-generated content is a key component of your customer acquisition. We feel that it is equally relevant to driving sales of subscription services.
Subscription Management: We advocate for retailers to take a self-service approach to their subscription commerce strategies. This is where the subscription commerce model moves away from transactional sales and becomes more aligned with customer service. The key to getting this right is to think about the types of queries you may expect from customers and find ways to use technology to answer those questions. This is where your subscription commerce plans will align with your digital and content marketing strategies.
Supply Chains: If you are serious about your subscription commerce strategy, your supply chain management must be built into your technical infrastructure. Your supply chains need to be aware of rapidly changing product quantities, timescales, and delivery expectations – a single failure in one element could derail your entire subscription package. Therefore, you need your technology to facilitate seamless communication from start to finish to ensure that individual systems are not receiving conflicting information.
Addressing subscription traps & auto-renewal legalities
Retailers welcome introductory discounts and free trials because they encourage new customers to subscribe. Retailers hope that the initial trial may be enough to keep a paying customer. However, many customers fail to cancel their initial trials and are subjected to auto-renewals.
Retailers must pay close attention to the technology supporting their subscription commerce strategies. They must make sure that customers can cancel their subscriptions quickly and easily. Failure to do so could lead to serious consequences. Within the "Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumer Bill", the government will tackle "subscription traps' in which businesses make it difficult to exit a contract." Under the terms of the bill, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will have increased power to impose fines based on breaches of consumer law.
However, it relies on having the right technical infrastructure in place. Generic plugins may have conflicts with other aspects of your infrastructure, so it's essential to periodically check how easy it is for your consumers to cancel their subscriptions.
In a recent statement, the UK's Labour Party has pledged to change the law to prevent consumers from becoming trapped in unwanted auto-renew subscriptions.
For more on Subscription Models, our latest Whitepaper, The Future of Subscription Commerce is up for Renewal can be downloaded in full, for FREE, directly from sherwen.com.
We partnered with YouGov to survey thousands of UK consumers to try and discover how retailers can deliver the subscription commerce package that their customers are looking for.