Bespoke Post on Bucking Subscription Stagnation

Subscription Commerce Tracker December 2021 - Explore how subscription providers can offer bundling options and pause features to beat subscriber churn

Sometimes the less obvious things become some of the most important. In the Subscription Commerce Tracker, Alvaro De La Rocha of themed subscription box provider Bespoke Post explains how curated product offerings and flexible refund options can help companies grow and bring in new business.

Subscription Commerce Tracker December 2021 - Explore how subscription providers can offer bundling options and pause features to beat subscriber churn

At a time when consumers are considering how to reduce their subscription spending, themed subscription box provider Bespoke Post is still experiencing growth, according to Alvaro De La Rocha, the company’s chief marketing officer.

Bespoke Post grew during the pandemic as consumers sought surprise and delight from experiences they could access at home, and its growth has not slowed down as some restrictions have lifted and consumers return to brick-and-mortar stores. De La Rocha attributed this in part to offering the ability to easily pause and resume subscriptions rather than fully canceling.

“To be quite honest, I don’t even know, given our model, how many of our club members even consider it like a true subscription because we have the ability to skip,” De La Rocha said. “No, for us, we continue to see growth and no stagnation.”

The ability to pause a subscription is just one type of feature that can help subscription providers retain customers for the long haul, especially as interest in subscriptions may be plateauing. Bespoke Post has offered retail subscriptions for a decade, and it entered the pandemic with a mature business model that has evolved significantly over the years. The company has incorporated several features to offer customers value, both in terms of products it sells and services it provides.

The Right Combination of Quality and Personalization

Bespoke Post aims to set itself apart from other subscription retailers through its custom combination of products and services, De La Rocha said. Some of those features were part of the brand from the start, but others have come as the company has grown and evolved.

“Working with small brands is at the core of what we do, so 90% of the brands we work with are small businesses, and that’s been the case from the beginning,” De La Rocha said.

Bespoke Post seeks out and curates high-quality brands that also are likely to have high appeal for subscribers, he said, adding that the thrill of product discovery creates an experience that keeps subscribers coming back for more.

“I think a lot of our customers use us because they found that cool smoking cocktail set or great travel weekender bag,” he said. “I think that’s one thing that’s different than other subscription businesses.”

The cross-category nature of Bespoke Post helps it appeal to a broader audience, De La Rocha said. Its wares are not specific to grooming products or apparel or a “whiskey of the month,” and subscribers with different preferences can receive completely different experiences through the company’s subscriptions.

“Since we launch about 20 new boxes a month and have an eCommerce store with a wide assortment, we are able to assign boxes to people based on what they’ve already told us about themselves,” De La Rocha said.

Knowing what customers want is key to the personalization they seek. New customers are prompted to gauge their level of interest in 10 categories. This early survey informs the initial subscription offerings customers receive. The company also considers information over the course of a customer’s subscription to inform what boxes are sent each month.

“If you live in Florida, we’re probably not going to send you a box that has a scarf in it or a sweater,” he explained.

This personalization was a process that had to evolve. Bespoke Post began with a limited selection of products, so the company tried to select products based on generalized appeal. As the company began to introduce two to three new boxes each month, generalized appeal gave way to niche products and personalization. Additionally, the company found that having enough subscribers with a particular interest made it tenable to offer niche products, such as throwing knives or a kit for kombucha making. Customers receive an email before each month’s box ships, giving them the chance to skip that box or swap it for another.

Keeping Customers Satisfied

These features are further supported by the company’s customer service capabilities, which extend beyond reacting to problems customers encounter to include proactive services such as a Holiday Concierge offering to help customers find presents fitting the interests of others, according to De La Rocha. Bespoke Post’s customer service also can help navigate the company’s growing product list to help a customer find something specific.

“I think that is always at the heart of what we do,” De La Rocha said. “All brands seek an ongoing relationship with their customers, but [as] a subscription brand, it truly is core to us.”

A key aspect of customer service is Bespoke Post’s refund policy, which offers a variety of options, including replacing a product and future credit. These options are central to the Bespoke Post model. If an item doesn’t fit as expected, the company has a simple return policy to ensure customers are not stuck with something they do not like. On the other hand, if subscribers like a box on the website but do not want to wait for it as a regular subscription item, they can purchase it for full price.

With the right combination of pause features, high-quality products, personalization and superior customer service, subscription service providers have a fighting chance to retain the subscribers they gained during the pandemic and hold consumers’ attention, even as appetite for more services as a whole may be waning.