1 in 4 Retail Subscribers Use Auto-Refill

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With many retail subscribers now relying mainly on auto-refill subscriptions for their shopping, PYMNTS Intelligence reveals, retailers must adapt and embrace this growing trend to stay competitive in the market.

By the Numbers

The latest installment of PYMNTS Intelligence’s Decision Guide series, “The Retail Subscription Features That Make Top-Performing Merchants,” created in collaboration with sticky.io, draws on data from a September survey of more than 2,000 consumers with retail product subscriptions seeking to better understand their relationships with their subscription merchants.

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The results identify three distinct subscriber personas: scheduled subscription shoppers, who predominantly shop via pre-scheduled and automatic refill subscriptions, online at-will shoppers, who mostly complete at-will online purchases despite having retail subscriptions, and in-store shoppers, who mainly shop in physical stores despite having retail subscriptions.

Twenty-six percent of retail product subscribers, the study finds, fall into that first camp, relying mostly on their scheduled product subscriptions to get the items they need.

The Data in Context

The rise of scheduled subscriptions reflects a shift in consumer behavior toward more convenient shopping experiences. As online retail continues to thrive, consumers are increasingly embracing the ease of having products delivered directly to their doorstep on a regular basis.

“Broadly, on an industry level, subscription commerce is going to have to continue to proliferate,” Michael Broukhim, co-founder and co-CEO of lifestyle membership FabFitFun, told PYMNTS in an interview last year, “such that even describing it as a category loses some meaning any more than you’ll talk about retail or stores as a category within retail because stores are so many different manifestations of an experience you can create.”

To cater to this growing demand, retailers are investing in subscription-based models and enhancing their online platforms to accommodate scheduled subscriptions. By offering this option, merchants have the opportunity to attract and retain a loyal customer base, ensuring a steady revenue stream.

Granted, auto-refill subscriptions do not work for every type of product.

“Subscribe & Save doesn’t work with a lot of items because people don’t consume them on a day-to-day basis,” Brett Cramer, owner of seasonings brand The Spice Lab — which abandoned the model — told PYMNTS in a June interview. “It has to be a product that people consume in less than 30 days.”