How eCommerce Merchants Create Seamless Subscriptions With Customization

In the age of subscriptions for movies and even car rentals, consumer goods and eCommerce companies are tapping into recurring purchase models. Some companies offer refills of household cleaning products, for example, while others offer unique selections highlighting the culinary flavor of a region though box-of-the-month plans.

To provide the options that consumers desire, subscription companies are implementing features to create more seamless experiences and drive conversions. Consumer goods and eCommerce ranked at 64.0 in the most recent PYMNTS Subscription Commerce Conversion Index, which was not too far behind software-as-a-service (SaaS)/cloud computing, which had an average merchant score of 69.4.

From cleancult to the Nuevo food box, online innovators are choosing the subscription business model to offer household staples and specialty items to consumers. These are just some of the ways firms in this space are implementing features to ensure a smooth experience for their online subscribers:

Three-quarters – or 75 percent – of consumer goods and eCommerce merchants have implemented free shipping. With the American Eagle Style Drop subscription, shoppers can browse selections that get refreshed weekly and have items mailed to them at no cost. Customers can send an item back to the retailer with a free prepaid envelope. They can also send their products in to be cleaned, and they are then returned without a fee. While the site recommends selecting at least 20 pieces, users are told to pick eight items at a minimum to have a box sent to them. Shoppers can also rank their favorite choices, and the site aims to mail out those selections first.

Seven in 10 – or 70 percent – of consumer goods and eCommerce merchants have implemented plan options. cleancult’s customers start a recurring purchase via a membership builder that asks how often they clean each week and if they have a laundry machine. They can then choose which type of hand soap they prefer, as well as which items they would like in their cleaning plan. (The selection ranges from liquid dish soap to laundry tablets.) Shoppers can begin their memberships by receiving a recycled plastic bottle for their products, or can opt for refill packaging right away if they already have a container.

Half of consumer goods and eCommerce merchants have implemented plan changes. Nuevo, for instance, offers month-to-month and three-month prepay plans that let subscribers cancel, pause or auto-renew. However, shoppers get a bit of a discount if they prepay. Consumers can alternatively purchase subscriptions as gifts for others, with one-month and three-month options. The service aims to offer selections that give people a “little taste of New Mexico.” The company features items such as green chile sauce and salsa, as well as red chile jam and green chile popcorn.

Three percent of consumer goods and eCommerce merchants have implemented a free trial. At Charge Running, users can log in with email and Facebook and automatically join a free two-week trial. Consumers can sign up for a monthly or yearly subscription plan, with payments made via the App Store. With the app, users can see live runs and run along with others. And unlike a pre-recorded app, trainers offer live feedback on the runner’s progress.

Consumer goods and eCommerce merchants have implemented an average of 5.5 payment types. Grocery Pup, a pet food subscription service, offers a few options, from standard credit cards to PayPal and Amazon Pay for express checkouts. The company sells its fresh-prepared, human-grade dog food from its website. In addition to subscriptions, the company also offers a sampler pack or duo packs for one-time purchases. The company’s meals are cooked with the sous-vide method, which is said to allow the food to retain moisture. Beyond eCommerce, the company offers its products in brick-and-mortar stores and for same-day delivery in New York.

From Grocery Pup to Charge Running, consumer product and eCommerce startups are opting into the subscription business model, which is thriving in the age of recurring purchases. Amid a crowded field, companies that can’t provide the features their customers want risk being left behind.