Four Tips To Support Monthly Subscription Box Sales
The idea of the monthly subscription box has quickly become a phenomenon.
The subscription box industry has shown itself to be one of the fastest growing retail verticals in the UK, with year-on-year online visits rising by 30% in 2017 to a total of 76.7 million. (*)
However, the process of providing a monthly subscription box is not as simple as customers getting their product on a monthly basis.
Those that have their own weekly or monthly subscription boxes know that there are some steps you need to consider. From sourcing elements to posting, packing sizes to planning on how you grow the business, there is a lot to think about. Especially if you want to sell your subscription to the masses.
To help we have put together five main tips to help create a successful subscription company.
1. Setting a price
Pricing is the key consideration when developing your monthly subscription concept. With the goal to make the offering the best value for money for customers. Many businesses don’t take the essential time out to price their monthly box with accuracy.
Comparing your monthly subscription idea to a close competitor’s, and then adopting the same pricing guidelines to compete is not in your best interest. This is one of the easiest missteps to avoid in pricing. Invest energy and time in building your products before worrying about any competitors.
A competitor’s pricing structure is based on different suppliers processes or and operations. All of which you’re not aware of which will most likely result in leaving you with a competitively-priced box that is unsustainable.
Ensure you also keep in line with your budget. Not having enough space in your budget for emergencies or the odd occasion where you need to spend more is not a position you wish to be in when you have customers relying on you.
2. Operation: Fulfilment
While you might save money by having your fulfilment in-house, outsourcing is something you should consider.
In-house fulfilment is great for startups, but if you are aiming for growth we recommend costing in outsourcing your operations so when the time is right, you don’t have to adjust your pricing, and you have time to focus on other important aspects of your business.
Find out more about what to consider and why you should visit a 3pl company before outsourcing here.
When starting out, it is natural to want to keep overheads down and undertake all roles yourself. However, as your monthly subscriptions grow some jobs will still need to be carried out, and only one of you. So factor in your staff requirements early
The production line
A warehouse manager will take on the organisation of your monthly subscription box and will track products, the quantity of stock and other vital information. A packing manager will oversee all packaging processes.
The average monthly subscription box will have 5-10 items included, which causes a limitation with how many people can pack at once. It’s recommended that you have a team of staff to pack each product separately to prevent packing the same items twice or miss one. Packing managers keep these production lines running as efficiently as possible.
Timing is essential with this type of product. So to have someone keeping an eye on stock levels, deliveries and deadlines to ensure that everything turns up in time to keep the process going is critical.
Something will go wrong at some point. Albeit a supplier or customer, the fact is there will be a point in time when you need to rectify a situation. While, in the early days, this is a task any business owner would want to take on, when subscriptions grow and queries (good, bad or ugly) are coming in left right and centre, you will need a resource to ensure that communications are flowing promptly.
These are just a few examples. Don’t forget the accounts, banking, marketing, product development, business planning and the rest! The question is where is your time best spent?
4. Time is money
One of the biggest challenges that come with monthly subscription boxes is the struggle to keep up with all the processes to keep the business running smoothly.
The beauty of this business model is that each month will run the same schedule. Organisation and planning will be key. Clear processes, strategic planning and being ahead of the game will reduce the stress of starting over each month. Set specific goals as you complete each day and week and adjust your deadlines to coincide with early/late completions. Your planning needs to include:
- Sourcing new products and ranges to keep the subscribers engaged
- Ensuring stock arrives on time*
- Keeping to order and postage deadlines*
- Replenishing packaging*
- Packing the packages*
- Posting the packages*
- Answering customer calls and emails*
- Ongoing marketing – social media, blogging, website admin etc
- Accounts and invoicing
- Business development stages and growth
5. Customers come first
Subscription boxes rely on their popularity with subscribers. – Providing strong customer service is essential in every business. Helpful and reliable customer service is something customers will expect as a standard part of the company offerings.
Subscription customers commit to your service every month – So in return, they expect the same commitment in the form of adequate customer support. There are a number of ways to do so without feeling like you have to be glued to your emails:
Turn alerts on – Always send alert notifications when a customer emails so they know you have received it and will resolve the issue in a timely manner.
Reply asap – Try to respond within 24 hours during business days – and set expectations to this by having an auto-responder set up.
Endless support at the touch of a button – Make sure you have provided a helpful section on your website for FAQs as well as allowing customers to change details with ease if needed (e.g. changing your address or cancelling a subscription.)
Quick solutions on social media – With the rise of social media you will want to make your customer service available across all suitable platforms. Keep an eye out and answer all queries in a timely manner. A study by Salesforce stated that 64% of consumers and 80% of business buyers said they expect companies to respond to and interact with them in real time.
Another way to achieve instant support is adding a chat box plugin on your website. Providing prompt support at the touch of the button will not go unappreciated by consumers.
But remember, from technical and tricky, there is a range of support questions asked on a daily basis. And while each query may differ, there are a few considerations to try to cover in every customer service interaction. Read more about the best customer service practice in our recent blog: ‘3 Customer Service Situations That Make Every Support Conversation Better.’
Making your monthly subscription box a success
With even the most challenging of obstacles, solutions are only around the corner. While some of the planning and logistics around subscription boxes can provide unique challenges to scaling and operating your business, answers aren’t far away. Keep your processes clear and simple, stick to deadlines, get the monthly subscription box to the customer when they expect it, in the way they expect it and do not compromise your customer service. Do this, and you should be on to a winner.
Keeping track of everything while also trying to focus on growing your business can take its toll on any company. However, outsourcing your fulfilment can take planning needs off your plate.