Subscription boxes have become a hot-ticket item for tons of online shoppers. And with a long list of benefits, it comes as no surprise.
Customers get a box full of goodies conveniently delivered to their doorstep every month, flexibility to choose at least some (if not all) of the contents, and the surprise and novelty of new products.
It’s easy to see how this awesome method of shopping could become addicting - It’s like getting yourself a gift every single month!
But, subscription boxes are also great for merchants as well. They come with a ton of great benefits like recurring revenue, customers turning into loyal brand advocates, inventory forecasting, and so much more!
There are subscription boxes for almost every niche or product out there. So, how do you stay ahead of the game and differentiate yourself from the subscription crowd?
We’ll go through six ways to stay one step ahead of your competitors and reduce that unwanted customer churn!
Presentation is everything:
Subscription boxes are not just a package full of products - unboxing should be an experience for your customers, similar to how they would feel visiting a brick and mortar store.
Without an in-store experience including helpful employees, scents, colors, and sounds, this can be difficult... but it can be done!
The box, labels, stickers, contents, and wrapping should reflect your branding and ‘feel’ like your company. Use consistent colours throughout your website, advertising, social media, etc., including customized boxes to match.
A customized box will reflect your company’s culture and evoke certain feelings associated with your brand - all before customers even open the box! Fabfitfun, a popular subscription box for women, is known for their fun and festive boxes.
Don’t want to customize the whole box? Sticker Mule offers customized packing tape. How cool is that?!
Not only are you still offering a personalized package for cheap, your company will get attention while the package is en route to your customers (free advertising!)
Diving into the package once the box has been opened, you want to hit customers with a great presentation immediately. How items are arranged in the box, a personal thank you note, and on-brand tissue paper and products make the whole package shine.
John’s Crazy Socks owns this like no one else. I mean, he includes a handwritten note, awesome socks, fun tissue paper, and candy?? This colourful delivery is sure to delight every time.
Let customers try before they commit:
Some shoppers may be a bit hesitant to order on a recurring basis if they’re not quite familiar with your company yet. And that’s ok - You don’t want customers to feel like their order is too much of a commitment and opt out of subscribing
The best way to solve this issue is to let customers try before they commit to a full subscription; allowing shoppers to ‘test out’ your products and see the quality for themselves.
Bold Subscriptions has a feature called Convertible Subscriptions which allows you to do just that. Some merchants will offer their customers a ‘welcome box’ full of sample-size products, or fewer products than normal, for a cheaper rate.
The best part is, it will automatically switch from the sample-size box to the regular subscription box after the initial order.
Another option is to offer a more expensive product initially, then switch to a regular product for the rest of the orders. For example, if you offer a coffee subscription you could offer a coffee machine or french press on the first order and the rest of the subscription orders would be just the coffee grounds.
This works when the products are related and there’s greater value in both the initial purchase and the long-term subscription product.
One of the greatest benefits of subscription boxes is the flexibility they offer. Customers can choose what kind of box they’d like, how frequently they want the boxes, and if you’re offering a build-a-box type subscription, even what products they want in the box!
Expand your flexible offerings with some great features like product swapping and dynamic discounts.
Product swapping allows your customers to swap out a product on a subscription to another similar product. The best part is, you can pre-select the products they can select from. So, you’re controlling which products they can swap for (often similar-priced items), and they get the freedom of choice!
This really plays into the novelty aspect of subscription boxes, which keeps customers happy and loyal month after month.
Another great feature, Dynamic Discounts, allows you to offer strategically placed discounts at vital points in the subscription journey. You can offer a discount on the first box they’ll receive, or after a few months to boost loyalty.
A discount can even be as simple as offering free shipping for subscribing.
On top of that, Bold Subscriptions also allows your customers to login and customize their subscriptions, update their information or shipping method, and view their past transactions and upcoming subscriptions.
Don’t forget social proof:
Social proof is one of the greatest tools you can use to gain trust with your online shoppers. Again, because there’s no storefront, customers will often turn to social proof like reviews and user-generated content (UGC) on social media before making the decision to buy.
Because they can’t physically hold the product in their hands, they’ll trust other shoppers to give reliable and honest feedback about the products they’ve tried.
In fact, 91% of people aged 18-34 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Fresh Patch is a subscription box that sends dog owners patches of grass for dogs to... well, do their business. They’re also a thriving company who knows the importance of a good social media presence.
UGC fills their feed with great content that users enjoy looking at (it definitely helps that the models are so cute!)
Plus, UGC is great for trust building. After all, happy customers will post about their experience with the brand on social media.
Be sure to share your social profiles across multiple platforms and provide a certain hashtag for customers to use. This will allow you to search this hashtag and select the posts you want to share; just remember to give credit to the original user.
You can include a link to your various social channels on your website and share your handles on the note inside the subscription box, including a sentence or two encouraging customers to share their pics!
The gift that keeps on giving:
When you offer gift subscriptions, customers can buy subscriptions for their friends and family as a unique present that keeps on giving… literally.
Customers can select the length of time they’d like to pay for the subscription right off the bat, and it will stop automatically based on their selected length. This allows them to control how ‘large’ the gift is, prevents unwanted charges, and makes them feel secure in their purchase.
If customers personally love their subscription box, they’ll be more likely to gift that box, or a similar one, to others who would also enjoy it. Which is great news for both you and the customers!
You can even set up different discounts based on the length of time shoppers decide to pre-pay for, incentivizing longer subscription durations.
Check out how to set up gift subscriptions on the Bold Subscriptions app here!
Make use of those emails:
With Bold Subscriptions, you can set both automatic emails for yourself, and automatic emails to your customers, based on a number of behaviours.
For example, you can send an email to your customers to let them know that their order is coming, their subscription has been successfully updated, their prepaid subscription is about to end, or when their credit card is about to expire.
Emails you can set up for yourself include when a customer attempts to cancel their subscription, skips their order, updates their credit card, when a refund has been processed, etc.
And those are just the automatic emails that are included in the app! There’s a ton of great apps you can install to help with your email marketing initiatives.
Email marketing is one of the best tools you can use to keep in touch with your customers. And because subscription customers are so important to your business, you’ll want to make sure they’re in the loop.
Do you offer both subscriptions and one-time purchases? Make your subscription customers feel more special and reward their loyalty with exclusive email content and offers, like FabFitFun did below.
You can use emails to welcome your customers, promote your social channels or blog, hint towards new products, ask customers for their honest feedback, and more.
Subscription customers are invested in your business - They want to hear from you! As long as emails are strategic and packed full of information (read: not spam), they’ll be welcome. Not sure when to email? Check out Shopify’s guide to email marketing.
To wrap up...
To keep your subscription customers interested (and to be competitive), have a fun presentation to make unboxing an experience, offer flexibility with your subscriptions, allow customers to try before they commit and keep in contact with your customers through email and social media.
Most of all, keep it consistent. If customers come to love a handwritten note or fun box, they’ll expect that time after time.
Interested in offering Subscriptions? Good thinking - we can help! Bold Subscriptions is a great app for all your subscription and subscription box needs.
About the author:
Amy is the Partner Marketing Manager at Bold Commerce. Bold empowers over 80,000 merchants in more than 170 countries around the world with their eCommerce apps and solutions that are designed to unleash the potential of eCommerce platforms.
About Bold Commerce:
Bold Commerce is a software development company that provides industry-leading eCommerce solutions for the world's most innovative brands.
Our apps and suite of tools focus on merchant's core needs including subscriptions, automation, wholesale & B2B, integrations, personalization, the payment experience, customization, and digital merchandising.