Four of the world’s finest subscription services – Rockets of Awesome, The Hut Group, Quip and Gentleman’s Box – shared the secrets to their success today at Retail (R)Evolution 2018. Even though each of them serve a specific niche in the marketplace, the way they run their businesses is quite similar, as they strive to infuse brand and convenience into the fulfillment, delivery and returns experience.
It all comes back to the customer experience
Subscription services are all about keeping customers happy, and that extends to the post-purchase experience. Whether helping busy moms outfit their kids, enabling gentlemen to maintain a certain state of dapperness, keeping lips glossy and eyes shadowed, or addressing the oral care needs of individuals, these four subscription services hit the mark. They provide customized and curated experiences to recipients across all walks of life, and for a variety of needs.
Take Rockets of Awesome, for example. This subscription service helps busy moms clothe their kids in the coolest threads, all while creating an experience where both parents and kids have a voice in the clothing selection process.
Rachel Blumenthal, Founder & CEO, explained, “Allowing children to partake in the process by providing input on their favorite colors or patterns helps them to establish a sense of brand ownership – ‘These are MY shorts, these are MY pants, this is MY brand’ – all the while under the watchful eye of the parent, who has the final say in terms of what actually makes its way into the box.”
Data drives decision-making
With hundreds of thousands of monthly subscribers spread across the four services, they have a ton of data at their fingertips. Everything from shipping addresses to item colors and counts, and anything in between is collected and leveraged to drive actionable insights.
This data is vital as it helps to drive key decisions both at the experience level – i.e. with the end customer – and at the business level – i.e. program development, supply chain management, etc.
Data is a key ingredient in helping Quip understand what demand will be in the future, which allows them to plan and manage their supply chain accordingly. Mir Anwar, VP Operations, pointed out, “Data derived from subscriptions helps make informed tooling and manufacturing investments accordingly.”
Gentleman’s Box leverages data to keep customers subscribed, by helping to anticipate other subscription configurations that may be of interest to an end customer. Founder & CEO Chris George provided an example:
“If a customer cancels their monthly box and our data points to the fact that he likes our socks, then we will offer him a sock service – and in most cases the customer will say yes to that alternate service.” He continued, “Data on how our subscribers use our products is key in helping us to think of new services or offerings that are appealing to existing (and new) customers.”
Cross-border or cross-country shipping can present challenges
Shipping is an extension of the subscription service since, after all, the subscribed items have to actually make their way from a distribution center to an end customer, or vice versa. Each of the companies leverages strategic shipping partnerships that allow for fast, economical and reliable delivery and returns services. That said, they’re continuously working with their partners to provide even better experiences and to fill any gaps that may exist.
After a strong start in the UK, the Hut Group recently ventured into the US market. According to Jason Young, VP of US Operations, “The US geography is much different than that of the UK – so naturally our approach to shipping things across the US required a different thought process. There is a lot of geography from coast to coast in the US and our shipping strategy needs to recognize that the US is not made up simply of NY, SF, LA, or FL.”
While these four subscription services each serve different niches, they all know that customer experience is paramount. Ultimately, it’s a function of how well these companies leverage the data at their disposal to make the best decisions possible, and how they leverage delivery and return services to ensure that once a customer is subscribed, the delivery (or returns) process itself reinforces the experience that the brand is trying to provide.
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