When ecommerce first began, ordering products from a computer and having them show up at your door was a revelation. Now, in just one single transaction, the products people regularly consume can arrive automatically at their door each week or month, often at a discounted price.
The online subscription model has grown far beyond retail goods to include industries with intangible products, such as computer security, video streaming platforms, online journalism and more. Far from a secret, the subscription economy is now worth as much as $35 billion annually.
But less is known about all the various features in ecommerce platforms that drive success, as online retailers have the challenge of exceeding the ever-increasing expectations of ecommerce consumers.
Let’s check out some of the secret tools today’s savviest online subscription businesses use to satisfy customers, grow their business, and secure all transactions and sensitive data.
Subscription businesses obsess over customer satisfaction because loyalty means long-term success. The data bears out this approach: on average, acquiring a new customer is between 5–25% more expensive than retaining an existing one.
All-in-one ecommerce platforms have many built-in automated features working together continually in the background so online retailers can effortlessly exceed customer expectations in all phases of their journey.
Industry leading ecommerce platforms gauge every consumer’s digital footprint to get reliable information on who they are and what their purchasing patterns look like. This knowledge is leveraged to meet consumer needs in a way which reflects their personality.
The platform scrapes the internet to determine important information about consumer behavior, such as:
The best ecommerce platforms can collect and digest this information, and then use it to sort each consumer into buckets according to the lifetime value they represent. This knowledge helps determine how much time and effort to invest into acquiring each new customer.
Once the AI has a 360-degree view of each consumer, the platform can then deliver the right customized nudge at the right time to close a sale and keep each shopper happy. Automating this process is the most efficient way to increase customer conversions, improve retention, and reduce churn rate.
In addition to smart AI, top platforms also make it very easy for managers and executives to obtain actionable intelligence at a glance. The best platforms offer over 20 dashboards to provide high-level views into key areas for online subscription model retailers:
With detailed cycle level analysis and a forecast tool for active subscriptions, online retailers will have powerful data to drive growth. When using an industry leading platform, it’s extremely easy to drill down into any dashboard with advanced filtering based on traffic source, channels, verticals, campaigns, or any custom Smart Tag as needed.
There will be no trouble exporting any data from the platform into a .CSV file for further analysis, or to use it in any custom reporting.
In a brick-and-mortar store location, trained and experienced sales associates know which levers to pull and when to pull them to close a sale. In subscription model ecommerce, smart AI prompts customers to see related and complementary products (cross-selling) or an upgraded or premium version (upselling).
Amazon has made this feature ubiquitous in ecommerce, but the best platforms do it better. After a fast and comprehensive assessment of each consumer, the platform only shows consumers products they are genuinely interested in purchasing. Forrester research indicates that cross-selling and upselling accounts for at least 30% of all ecommerce revenue.
The top ecommerce platforms also use automation to provide consumers with a sense of the human touch. Why should loyal customers be treated the exact same way as a first-time shopper? Industry leading platforms can automatically identify repeat customers and determine the most effective form of customized preferential treatment.
For example, if a customer has a habit of closing a window before completing the sale, the platform could determine that shipping costs pose an obstacle to closing the sale and waive shipping fees automatically.
The online subscription business is all about quick ways of fostering long-term satisfaction. Ecommerce platforms help online retailers meet consumer needs automatically, reliably and efficiently.
It’s essential to ensure that ecommerce consumers feel comfortable during the transaction process. Sensitivity concerning finances is understandable. Sales are likely to increase when consumers have effortless and pain-free control over payments.
If a consumer wants to pause their subscription, let them do so for a fixed or indefinite time. It is better to have a consumer suspend payment than lose them altogether.
Flexible billing means companies need to be able to accept whatever form of payment customers prefer using, as well as the ability to easily and quickly configure any special promotions or discounts. Loyal customers should be rewarded and incentivized with coupons.
One popular way to entice consumers into becoming long-term customers is offer lower rates in exchange for a longer commitment. For example, Birchbox offers monthly plans at one rate which can be cancelled at any time, but they offer a moderately lower rate if consumers commit for 12 months. The consumer saves money, while the online retailer secures a long-term customer — everyone wins.
Smart and automated dunning ensures that online retailers don’t waste time or energy trying to recoup revenue owed by consumers. The platform will issue appropriate messages to customers at the ideal time if their payments are still outstanding.
While 6% of total transactions fail on the first attempt, approval rates jump to over 30% on follow-up charge attempts. Smart Dunning involves trying to recover payment at specific times in the week which correspond with increased approval success.
The sticky.io system will reattempt another message three days after the original failure, then again five days after the original attempt, before re-attempting on the 1st and 15th of the month. The platform even knows to send the automated messages between 2–4 p.m., when they’re determined to be most effective.
The best platforms have custom gateway routing so customers can use whatever payment option they most prefer, while retailers enjoy transactions with a higher acceptance rate.
Smooth billing experiences means making consumers do as little work as possible. The sticky.io platform has an Account Updater feature which ensures credit card payment data is always accurate before a rebill cycle.
Credit cards expire every three years, and it’s estimated that between 30–35% of transactions decline due to expiry. On average, the Account Updater feature can prevent 4% of all credit cards from accidentally exiting the system. It manages to successfully rebill 80% of these cards, preventing hundreds or even thousands of sales from slipping through the cracks.
Plus, it spares customers aggravation. Every time a customer is forced to manually resubmit payment information, they’re faced with the choice to either re-enter these details or simply walk away from the sale. This feature simultaneously minimizes opportunities for billing failure while strengthening customer relationships.
In over-the-counter purchases, consumers walk away with the product instantly. In online retail, the goal is to get the product into the consumers’ hands as quickly and reliably as possible.
Thanks to Amazon offering same-day delivery, consumers are currently used to receiving products the same day they’re ordered, or close to that. This means that delivery-related setbacks must be minimized.
The best ecommerce platforms confirm that the shipping address is correct before sending products out for delivery. This helps to keep customers happy, so online reviews are positive instead of negative.
Plus, online retailers are on the hook for any extra expenses associated with delivery-related mishaps, such as packages, stamps, and labor costs. These small expenses can add up. Smart automation helps to avoid this extra revenue drain, and keeps customers satisfied.
A certain amount of fraud is inevitable in ecommerce, so companies must be prepared to face it right from the start. Security that is designed specifically to retain revenue in a subscription model can be just as important as growing sales.
The sticky.io platform complies with all PCI DSS Level 1 requirements, the highest standard demanded by the major credit card companies. Tokenization, advanced user permissions, and high level authentications will protect all business and customer data.
The best ecommerce platforms give companies the benefit of anti-fraud experts who personally manage and oversee the account as well as automated security. The platform constantly refines and updates its algorithm, so as more data passes through the platform over time, it gets better at fighting fraud and preemptively declining suspicious transactions.
In addition to transaction processing, leading ecommerce platforms offer chargeback updates and provide full access to representment specialists who are already deeply familiar with your business. Online retailers don’t have to be chargeback tacticians themselves, as they’ll be guided by experts who know which chargebacks to fight and how to fight them effectively.
The best platforms supplement their own expertise by forming deep relationships with other leading anti-fraud specialists, such as Kount, an Equifax company. Chargebacks will be dramatically lowered, while partnerships with other anti-fraud experts like Verifi and Ethoca further help prevent fraud from occurring in the first place.
The sticky.io platform catches between 25–30% of chargebacks using Automated Alerts, so online retailers can significantly reduce this threat. Chargeback protection is vital, because 50% of all cardholders who file an illegitimate chargeback do so again within two to three months.
Chargebacks can instantly drain revenue, so it’s important to have features like Automated Alerts which help companies avoid extra credit card processing fees. This feature also prevents banks from withdrawing from an online retailer’s account on the processor’s behalf, then storing the funds in escrow.
Sometimes companies don’t fight chargebacks because they mistakenly believe it’s futile, but guidance from real experts will help recoup revenue that never should have gotten away. It’s impossible to scale up an online business with only a patchwork, haphazard approach to fighting chargebacks.
Even companies that manage to successfully fight chargebacks on their own use up valuable time and effort doing so, which offsets the benefit of winning the chargeback dispute.
It’s estimated that just under half of all revenue online retailers lose to fraud is caused by chargebacks. Merchants will enjoy having cleaner books and healthier Monthly-Income Debt Securities. But beyond just improved numbers, chargeback protection lets online retailers operate with greater freedom and confidence.
Companies need to ensure they have enterprise-grade security in place right from the beginning, so when things take off they can focus on growing sales instead of scramble to fight fraud.
Security needs to be impenetrable, but also unnoticeable to the consumer. Verification should only take milliseconds, so it’s imperceptible during a transaction.
Finally, growing an online business also requires flexible security that is never excessively strong. Online retailers need to have control over custom risk profiles for each campaign and product.
Otherwise, excessively strong security can accidentally prevent genuine customers from making legitimate purchases. Security needs to be perfectly balanced so that it accepts real customers and rejects every fraudster.
Every ecommerce business encounters some amount of online fraud eventually. While it’s easy to assume that security must be first and foremost strong, modern e-commerce relies on flexible, nuanced security that knows which users to block and which ones to permit.
The smart, adjustable, and robust security offered by modern e-commerce platforms delivers the optimal blend of fraud protection and revenue maximization.
Subscription model businesses have grown from the early days of product boxes to include companies across a wide array of industries. Whatever the nature of the product, online retailers must deliver personalized services that exceed consumer expectations.
Given the newfound popularity of subscription businesses, brands must carve out their own unique niche for their products and offerings, so they stand out against rivals. But relying on enterprise-grade ecommerce platforms is the secret way online retailers deliver powerful and seamless personalization, automated revenue maximization features, and security that is both strong and agile.