Subscription services are in higher demand than ever before, and for good reason. Between endless options and busy schedules, subscription businesses offer consumers something invaluable—convenience. For businesses, a subscription model provides more predictable revenue through recurring payments. It can also expand your customer base by attracting busy consumers or those willing to pay more for convenience.
The consistency and reliability of your subscription businesses’ services can boost brand loyalty among existing customers. To ensure a reliable experience for your customers, it is crucial to focus on the logistics of your business model. Subscription services depend heavily on timely delivery. Whether you’re delivering vitamins or cat litter, your customers depend on their products arriving on time, every time.
To ensure a smooth delivery for your customers, it’s important to spend time perfecting your shipping process. Preparing an effective shipping model for your subscription service can help you deliver on the promise of your services and increase trust among your customers.
Shipping Matters—Where Do I Start?
Planning the logistics of your shipping process on the frontend may seem overwhelming, but will save your team significant time and stress as you start shipping. It will also help you deliver parcels on time and keep customers happy.
For a subscription business, there are a few main elements of the shipping process to focus on:
- Operational life cycle: How will you organize and plan out billing cycles, renewal dates, delivery dates, etc.?
- Automate your shipping: Find ways to automate your shipping process as much as you can to save time and ensure accuracy.
- Integrations: Choose an ecommerce platform like Shopify Plus that will allow you to fully integrate your store with your shipping solution. This integration will streamline and simplify your workflow.
What is an Operational Life Cycle?
Subscription business services are built on operational life cycles that will differ from company to company. Before you begin planning your shipping process, it is important to have a well-planned life cycle that will guide your shipping and fulfillment windows. Here are some things that should be considered in your operational life cycle:
- Billing cycle: Will you bill each of your customers on the first of the month or will you follow an anniversary billing cycle—charging your customers on the anniversary of their first order? Select a billing cycle that works best for your company, and then establish renewal and cutoff dates that make the most sense for your plan.
- Renewal date: Establish a clear, logical renewal date for customers if they wish to halt their subscription services. Choose a date that will allow your business plenty of time to adjust to the change before the new billing cycle.
- Cutoff date: If you plan on shipping all of your subscription boxes out on the same dates each month, establish a cutoff date for monthly purchases. For example, if all of your customers are set to receive their parcels on the 15th of each month, setting a clear cutoff date such as the 10th will help you stay organized and in control. A cutoff date of the 10th would mean any orders after that date will begin in the next billing cycle.
Billing cycles and cutoff dates will depend largely on the nature of your product or service. While more uniform schedules will work best for some businesses, an anniversary billing schedule with rolling shipments may be necessary for others. Consider your customers’ needs as well as your business’ capacity when scheduling your operational life cycle.
Once you have established your schedule for billing and shipping dates, it’s important to automate the process as much as possible to ease the stress on your team and ship more efficiently.
Automate, Automate, Automate
The fulfillment process for subscription businesses will determine the success of your shipping and delivery experience. Whether your subscription model is uniform or on a rolling basis, make sure your shipping solution can take care of the heavy lifting. Here are a few ways to automate the shipping process:
- Automatically populate orders: Connect all of the places you sell to your shipping solution, and watch your orders automatically populate into your shipping solution. This will not only allow you to stay more organized across selling platforms, but will also cut down on time spent manually entering customer information. Automatically populating customer information into your shipping solution will also help you avoid potentially costly errors.
- Batch shipping: Organizing your orders into batches can be an effective way to cut down on fulfillment time. You can batch process orders based on your business needs, such as product, ship date, shipping carrier etc. For example, when you batch process orders based on product, orders will automatically be set with the correct weight and shipping specifications for that product. You can also batch print shipping labels to make the process more efficient.
Integrate Your Store & Shipping Solution
Selecting the right ecommerce solution for your business will not only help you sell more, it will make the fulfilment and shipping process easier. Shopify Plus is a great option if you are looking for a platform that will integrate easily with your existing business solutions like Quickbooks, SAP, or ShipStation.
Integrating your store and shipping solution can help you deliver a more consistent, branded experience to your customers. Shopify Plus is fully customizable—meaning your brand elements and design can remain consistent on your website and wherever you sell. Shopify Plus’ integration with ShipStation allows you to create a fully branded experience throughout the shipping process as well. Add your brand elements to shipping labels, tracking emails, and packing slips to ensure your brand is top-of-mind from purchase to delivery.
Pick Purolator for On-Time Delivery
No matter what you’re selling, it’s important to provide a seamless shipping experience for your customers. For subscription models, accuracy and timeliness are essential. Pick a dependable courier like Purolator to ensure your parcels are always delivered on time. Purolator offers a variety of delivery services within Canada, the U.S. and internationally to accommodate all of your shipping needs.
This guest blog is written by ShipStation – the leading web-based shipping software that helps online retailers streamline their order fulfillment, wherever they sell and however they ship.