Why Subscriptions Are a Must in the Post-COVID World

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The coronavirus outbreak accelerated the existing demand for subscriptions to unprecedented levels as shoppers fell in love with the ease and reliability of getting their favorite products delivered to their doorsteps without risking their health. In fact, subscription enrollment jumped 48% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to Ordergroove data

With experts predicting that the country won’t return to “normal” until the end of 2021, consumer demand for subscriptions will continue to grow throughout the year. But will this continue after COVID-19?

In short, yes. Major brands and retailers recognized the value in subscriptions prior to COVID-19, and the pandemic’s e-commerce boost only amplified the push. This trend will certainly continue throughout 2021 and into the post-COVID world. As such, retailers that want to stay competitive should either implement a subscription program or enhance their subscription offerings this year. 

Implementing Subscriptions Now

Subscriptions do more than mitigate pandemic-related risks. Not only do subscriptions save consumers money, they give shoppers back time and brain space, freeing them up to do the things they love. Once the world is back to the everyday hustle and bustle, these benefits will be even more attractive. 

This is why it’s critical that retailers develop and implement a subscription offering before the “new normal” sets in. It will enable them to capitalize on the swelling consumer demand and simultaneously position themselves for long-term success. While customers enjoy easy ordering, retailers gain loyal repeat customers and the ability to forecast sales and inventory in a way that isn’t possible with ad hoc purchases.

Launching a subscription program is an important step to reaching these customers and attaining these benefits; however, what about the retailers that already offer subscriptions? How can they keep their hard-earned subscribers engaged?

Enhancing Subscriptions in 2021 and Beyond

More retailers than ever before implemented subscription offerings in 2020. As a result, competition is fierce and brands need a rapid and strategic subscription rollout to compete. To stand out, they must offer a high-quality, differentiated subscription experience that includes in-demand promotional incentives and consumer experiences. 

Incentives that perform well include free shipping, early access to sales for subscribers, subscription-only product offerings, curated experiences, and unique subscription promotions like a subscribe more, save more model or every fourth order free. These attract and build loyal customers, as well as improve retention rates.

It’s also critical that merchants offer a robust subscription management portal that gives subscribers the power to easily swap products, skip an order, and control how and when they receive communication through email and SMS. 

Meanwhile, predictive analytics can help mitigate churn. Using AI and predictive technology to evaluate customer churn risk, brands can proactively engage with shoppers to keep them satisfied and the orders rolling in.

Looking Beyond COVID-19

Consumers turned to subscriptions to combat the negative effects of the pandemic. However, this trend isn’t specific to COVID-19 by any means. To take advantage of the growing interest in subscriptions and thrive in the post-COVID world, retailers must either implement subscription offering or enhance their current subscription program this year. If they don’t, they risk falling behind competitors who spent 2020 paving the way for future success.

Greg Alvo is CEO and founder of Ordergroove.

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