The rise of subscription model services and how small businesses can join in

The rise of the subscription model, and how independent retailers can join in

You can buy virtually anything on a subscription model now.  From music and movies to razor blades and socks, and even bacon, there’s a service offering to send you a monthly order without any intervention from you.


This is a very clever business model and works really well for two main reasons:


Often consumers set up and forget to cancel, not really paying attention to the small regular payments leaving their bank account.


It’s another thing you don’t have to think about, and in today’s hectic world people are desperate to cut down their to-do lists.


So how can you take advantage of this trend?

As an independent retailer it’s unlikely you have the infrastructure and website back-end ready to handle an automated subscription model system, but can this be acheived with a more traditional approach?  We’ve seen retailers without a website offering a telephone mail-order service to their customers, and we’ve even seen one retailer manage to negotiate with one of the brands they stock to be appointed as the mail order service for the entire brand! (The brand didn’t sell direct to consumer, and as they say, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!).


Let your customers know you can sign them up to receive a replacement automatically

on a repeat order system, and then either use paypal to set up a recurring payment, or get your customers to set up a standing order to cover the bill, or perhaps look at offering credit to your long standing customers.  Alternatively you can offer this as a reminder service where you schedule a call to the customer once a month to take card details over the phone and take it from there.


This of course doesn't necessarily lend itself well to all types of retail, and if your business model is based on one-off purchases like washing machines or other hardware, consider placing labels on the side / back detailing date of purchase, perhaps along with details of who to contact for service, along with your store details ready for when the customer finally looks for a replacement.  We've seen a large chain bed supplier recently start adding labels to mattresses encouraging consumers to replace after 8 years.  It's a long game, that's for sure, but that 'replace by' date (and store name) is going to be seen every time the sheets get changed, and that's pretty good marketing for the cost of a label.


If your products lend themselves to repeat business it’s worth implementing some kind of reminder system.

Examples include a printer inserting a contact card near the bottom of a box of business cards or leaflets or indeed any job, those offering a service like hairdressing should do everything possible to secure the next appointment before the customer leaves, and businesses offering food should look at setting up repeat orders with their customers wherever possible.  These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg and they work in your favour and also help your customer save time.  If you want to discuss ideas for securing repeat business for your particular organisation get in touch, whether you’re a baker or a shoe store, we have ideas for you.

Marketing for Independent Retailers

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