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4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Subscription-Based Businesses

Fact #1: “Roughly eight-in-ten Americans are online shoppers; 15% buy online on a weekly basis” (Pew Internet).

Over the past few years, there’s been a drastic shift between traditional pay-per-product (or service) companies moving toward subscription-based business models. From the Dollar Shave Club to Blue Apron and even BarkBox (yes, there’s a subscription box for dogs), there’s practically a subscription box/service for anything. But, how do these businesses become successful? Definitely not overnight.

Our WooCommerce experts gathered up some info about how to take advantage of the subscription economy and make the most out of your eCommerce subscription-based business.

Your Website is Your Backbone

Whether you’re planning to start a subscription-based business, or adding a subscription to your current eCommerce store, you may already know that it’s no easy task. Customers are all about flexibility and looking for ways to make life easier, but you must make sure your website is reliable and has all the elements necessary to support subscription-based goods or services.

We recommend using both WooCommerce and the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension. This serves as the foundation of your store, and gives you the ability to offer physical or digital goods/services. It is the most flexible resource, and the easiest way to provide an enjoyable experience for one-time or returning customers.
It’s also recommended to incorporate the following:

  • Easier payment methods. While PayPal is always the go-to source of payment, some customers don’t like to be tied to one single option (plus, not everyone has PayPal). WooCommerce offers automatic payments through 20+ supported gateways.
  • Security. If customers are going to trust your business, especially with recurring payments as long-term subscribers, you can be sure that WooCommerce provides all the necessary precautions to keep your store safe and customers at ease with their personal information.
  • Managed Hosting. Part of owning an online store is making sure everything is running well when it comes to updates and maintenance. Managed hosting gives you hands-on assistance and better security for your eCommerce store.

Let’s Talk About Pricing

Now that we touched on the technical stuff, we can officially get into the facts about what makes a subscription-based business successful. Like most things in business, money is always an important factor to consider. Depending on your goals, you want to make sure you’re being fair to not only your customers, but also your business when it comes to pricing and payment schedules.

Fact #2: “65% of Americans indicate that when they need to make purchases they typically compare the price they can get in stores with the price they can get online and choose whichever option is cheapest” (Pew Research Center).

If you’re offering a single product subscription with regularly stocked items, then it’s a simple way to have subscribers pay only one price. However, if you’re offering monthly product boxes and packages, this can get a little tricky and needs some careful consideration.
Customers don’t want to pay more than they have to on a product or service, and you want to make sure they’re getting an optimal experience with your subscription.

With that being said, here are a few key points to consider:

  • Subscribers expect more than what they signed up for. In exchange for subscribing to your product or service, customers tend to expect something a little extra like a coupon or a discount. Especially if it’s something they can find cheaper somewhere else.
  • Everyone loves free stuff. If you’re selling subscription boxes for products or goods, it’s always a great idea to include something extra. After all, your subscribers are giving you business, so it’s only fair to return the love by including some free samples or discounted goodies in your subscription boxes.
  • Justify high priced subscription boxes. The phrase “you get what you pay for” has never been so true when it comes to subscription boxes. If subscribers are paying a high price, then the quality and experience should be equivalent.

Another factor to consider in a subscription-based business is how often you charge your subscribers. Whether it’s weekly, monthly or yearly, it’s important to be flexible with your customers and be clear with what you offer.

Fortunately, WooCommerce Subscriptions gives you the ability to provide these options to your customers and allow them to switch between subscriptions and delivery plans based on their preferences.

Choosing the Right Products and Packaging

Nowadays, it seems that almost anything can be sold in a subscription box. However, that’s not always the case. Subscriptions aren’t for everyone, and most consumers are careful with what they spend their money on.

One important question to consider is if your subscription business is something customers want or need. The reality is that most successful subscription-based businesses are founded on real, expressed needs for products or services, not something “trendy.” The best way to determine which types of products you should sell is to think about how often consumers would buy your product at a local store. Also, if you’re selling edible goods, make sure you comply with the proper regulations for delivery and consumption.

Product packaging is also a major factor when it comes to subscription boxes. Aside from the fact that subscribers get extremely excited about receiving their packages, they also get a kick out of the unboxing experience. Include elements that create a “wow” factor every time subscribers receive your product. Make it memorable, fun and worth every penny.

Feedback Means Everything to Your Business

Listening to your customers is the only way you can improve your eCommerce subscription business and stay on the path of success. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be pleased with the products or services you offer, so it’s important to quickly address any negative feedback you receive. This can easily make or break your subscription business.

Remember that subscriptions are relationships, and relationships are a two-way street. One way to build trust with your customers is to ask them questions. No, we’re not talking about surveys (nobody likes wasting their time unless they get something out of it). We suggest to actively solicit feedback from their experience whether it is through a personalized email, monitoring social media, or setting up a contact form on their account so that they can easily provide their thoughts.

Some questions you can ask involve:

  • The product(s) they received. Ask your customers to rate the quality of each product, or talk about their overall experience with their purchase.
  • Pricing. Everyone wants cheap without compromising quality. Are your prices fair compared to their expectations? Depending on the answers you receive, you can determine whether you should offer discounts or surprise coupons.
  • Packaging. Nothing upsets customers the most than receiving a damaged or missing item. Mistakes are only human, but it’s important to keep these to a minimum and ensure it doesn’t get out of hand.
  • Frequency of delivery. This can produce various answers, but it helps you determine if the timing is just right when it comes to the delivery of your products.

Also, make sure to always pay attention to what happens on social media.

Fact #3: 39% of Americans have shared their experiences or feelings about a commercial transaction on social media platforms (Pew Internet).

You can learn a lot about your customers through social media. By keeping communication open and showing that you’re committed to your business, you can be sure those subscribers will appreciate it and will stick around!

Are You Ready to Launch Your eCommerce Subscription Business?

These are just a few ways you can achieve success with your eCommerce subscription-based business. With the proper knowledge, resources and products, you can easily create and maintain a steady stream of recurring revenue.

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