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What customers want from subscription services

MAY, 2023

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Hand the keys over to the subscriber.

What are the attitudes toward Subscription Commerce?

We needed to investigate their current attitudes to understand what shoppers expect from subscription services. It is very noticeable that different demographics have different priorities regarding subscription commerce. Their priorities dictate how much they are willing to spend and what services they want to sign up for. Food and drink subscriptions are the most popular, with ingredient boxes the most common. However, health, fitness, makeup, and beauty products are also highly sought.

Shoppers are prepared to spend significant disposable income on subscription box services, with a third of all subscribers spending between £15-£39.99 per month. However, there are also opportunities for luxury offerings, with one in ten subscribers happily paying between £40-£64.99 per month. In addition, 3% of subscribers admit to spending between £125-£149.99 each month on their subscriptions.

For retailers looking to generate additional revenue, a subscription commerce strategy could provide a healthy income stream and a consistent opportunity to build long-lasting customer relationships.

40% of UK adults are looking for subscription services that offer easy refunds if there is a problem.
The Future of Subscription Commerce is up for Renewal
Sherwen Studios Whitepaper

Understanding Consumer Expectations

Subscription commerce allows retailers to build brand loyalty through repeated purchases. However, shoppers could choose to cancel their subscriptions with minimal notice. Identifying their expectations allows retailers to implement solutions likely to keep shoppers satisfied and more likely to retain their subscriptions.

Surprisingly, our research has highlighted that shoppers are less influenced by initial introductory discounts than retailers may expect. Instead, they would prefer a consistently low price, offering value for money. While time-limited offers will entice shoppers, they also lead to significant customer churn. We discovered that 20% of subscribers who plan to cancel their subscription soon will do so because they “only signed up to benefit from an introductory discount.”

To enhance your expectations, retailers should focus on creating flexible self-service solutions that allow customers to take control of their subscriptions. Today’s subscribers want a system that allows them to adjust the frequency of their deliveries with minimum fuss. They want to set delivery days that match their priorities. They want easy refunds, and they want to set their personal preferences easily. Customers are not interested in referral schemes, although they want to collect loyalty points and want to see direct customer service links incorporated so they can easily speak to an advisor if they need help or support.

With the right technology in place, these expectations are reasonable and should be relatively simple to implement.

48% of consumers were adamant that they would not sign up for a subscription box with a lower price at first but a higher price each month.
The Future of Subscription Commerce is up for Renewal
Sherwen Studios Whitepaper

Using technology to meet consumer expectations

Meeting these expectations will depend on the type of technical infrastructure in place. For example, many ecommerce platforms offer third- party plugins that allow front-end integration but may lack the nuances needed to communicate with wider supply chains.

We want to see more retailers look at their platforms to see how they can improve to match these customer expectations. It is essential to focus on self-service options that make the customer’s experience as quick and easy as possible. A flexible and agile system will increase the likelihood of a customer remaining subscribed and provide a positive experience.

48% of UK adults want to be able to adjust the frequency of their delivery.
The Future of Subscription Commerce is up for Renewal
Sherwen Studios Whitepaper

We’ve identified four key areas where retailers should look at their technology to see how they meet customer expectations. These areas include frictionless payments, enabling user- generated content, facilitating easy subscription management, and seamless communication with supply chains. It’s also important to note that there are growing legal concerns surrounding the complexity of auto-renewals for those coming to the end of an introductory or discounted rate. Having the right technology to manage auto-renewals will protect both the consumer and retailers should new legislation come into place via the Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumer Bill.

Ultimately, we believe that subscription commerce is all about offering effective customer service. There is a fine balance between the subscription’s transactional side and the relationship you are building with your end customer. If more focus is placed on the overall customer experience aspect, you will likely retain that customer as a long-lasting subscriber and brand advocate.

For more on what consumers want from their Subscription Services, our latest Whitepaper, The Future of Subscription Commerce is up for Renewal can be downloaded in full, for FREE, directly from

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.


Bricks & Mortar Stores vs. Online Retail: How to combine online and offline experiences to improve shopping for your customers

can be downloaded in full, direct from

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