You’ve invested marketing dollars, customer service time, and your time to find new customers, test customer acquisition concepts, and create new subscribers. Now comes the hard part, how do you keep those customers as active subscribers? If you’re like a lot of companies, once they figure out acquisition methods, retention of those customers becomes more important.
We’ve got the customer, but how do we keep them?
If retention becomes the challenge that all direct-to-consumer retailers will face, how can your eCommerce platform help to improve overall retention of your subscription customers?
Through a query engine or analytics tools and access to an open API, your marketing and analytics are going to be critical to access data in order to fully understand or predict customer costs and anticipated subscriber churn.
When are customers canceling? Is there a profile or purchase characteristic of those customers? Those and hundreds of other questions are all critical to solving the retention problem, but they rely on you having access to eCommerce data and having the ability to manipulate it into formats that answer those questions.
When thinking about a customer profile, we all tend to focus on the basic account information - name, address, phone, and email address, but what about the rest of the profile? In fact, for a subscription business model, one of the most important pieces of information lies in the saved billing profile.
Using the saved billing profile information, to remind customers when their credit card is about to expire is key to the renewal process. Given the rate at which consumers are updating and changing their credit card information, are you checking for card expirations? If so, how are you handling those upcoming credit card notifications? Web messaging, emails, text messages? What’s happening to the cards that expire before the subscription renews?
Building out a strategy to maintain an up-to-date billing profile for your customers is key to maintaining a low churn rate.
It’s a pretty simple question, but can you use the best-of-breed tools and services to build the best subscriber experience? From shipping and delivery to A/B testing and marketing analytics, thousands of services and software products exist in the marketplace and are designed to help you optimize specific aspects of your business and therefore, enhance the customer experience. The ability to integrate additional services into your platform means that you’re extending the inherent abilities of the platform in order to build something better.
With so much investment in the eCommerce service space and a rapidly evolving set of customer expectations, there is a constant need to iterate on top of an eCommerce core.
So, what makes one platform better than another when it comes to integration? It comes down to the underlying code behind the platform and the structure upon which it’s built. A modern platform expects that it needs to integrate into other systems and marketing services. Your subscription orders may be fulfilled from an ERP system or shipping system. A modern platform doesn’t have to use the entire eCommerce lifecycle - only the pieces where there is a business fit. For example, product information may live in a PIM system or fulfillment may be managed outside of the platform in an ERP.
Good integrations allow more ways to add your value to your product, and when users find more value in your product they are less likely to churn.
Access to your data will be a critical part of reducing churn rate by allowing you to collect and analyze it to identify recurring patterns and reasons for churn as well as how to address it.
Moving into the subscription marketplace and selling into the B2B and B2C market means focusing on both the features of an eCommerce platform that enable the type of subscription selling you want to do, but also the connections and integrations that can append to the platform.
The subscription concept, applied to such a wide variety of businesses, is still new to both merchants and consumers. As a result, managing a subscription business presents new challenges to merchants, but also, the assumptions, novelty, and expectations that the customer experiences are going through a rapid maturation. The businesses that are set up to adapt to those changes are going to achieve long-term success.