Winning back lapsed subscribers

Sherwen Studios commissioned research data and analytics group YouGov to survey more than 2,000 UK adults about their thoughts and opinions relating to subscription commerce. Here's some of their findings.

woman standing over table looking at gift box Retail subscriptions are continuing to soar in popularity, as UK shoppers take advantage of subscription boxes that promise value for money, as well as the opportunity to try new products. But the very nature of flexible subscriptions mean that customers could choose to cancel at a moment's notice.

The ongoing challenge for craft and hobby-related retailers is to figure out how to win back those lapsed subscribers. According to research from digital retail specialists, Sherwen Studios, over a third (34 per cent) of current subscribers plan to cancel at least one subscription in the next 12 months. What's more 20 per cent of current subscribers openly admit that they plan to cancel their subscription when they get to the end of an introductory discounted rate.

Sherwen Studios commissioned research data and analytics group YouGov to survey more than 2,000 UK adults about their thoughts and opinions relating to subscription commerce. The results of the research have been published by Sherwen Studios in their latest white paper, titled: The future of subscription commerce is up for renewal. The white paper not only delves into customer expectations of subscription commerce, but it highlights what could entice a potential subscriber to sign up, as well as outlining common reasons for cancellations. Sherwen Studios has used their expertise in working for various national retailers (including ScS, Booker, and Londis) to explain how retailers can make the most of technology to match those subscriber expectations – with a significant focus on how retailers can win back lapsed subscribers.

The role of self-service technology
Sherwen Studio's research has confirmed that craft and hobby-related subscription boxes remain hugely popular. A quarter of all adults currently signed up to a subscription box are receiving some form of craft or hobby box such as stationery and books, pop-culture themed (e.g Comicon, Funko, etc), children's activities, arts and crafts or games and puzzles. With such a boost in profitability, Sherwen Studios believe that as a priority, craft-related or hobby-related retailers should focus heavily on implementing self-service platforms that allow subscribers to take complete control over their subscriptions.

Matt Sherwen, owner of Sherwen Studios says: "We've long advocated for self-service platforms. Having a technical infrastructure that allows a customer to choose what their subscription will feature, as well as setting delivery preferences will give a level of flexibility that allows the retail subscription to continually adapt to the customer's lifestyle. For example, simply allowing a customer to pause or skip a delivery could keep them in your sales funnel for much longer than subscriptions that force customers to cancel outright."

Sherwen Studios' belief that selfservice options should be more mainstream has been backed up by their research which identified that:
· Almost half of all people (48 per cent) with or without a current subscription say that being able to adjust the frequency of deliveries is the feature most important to them.
· A further 46 per cent want to be able to change their delivery dates to suit their personal preferences.
· 40 per cent believe that subscription models should factor in easy refund solutions.
· 38 per cent want to be able to set their personal preferences for each subscription box and tailor their subscription box to their specifications.

woman posing with subscription box at camera For craft retailers offering subscription boxes, this research could help retailers make small changes that could ensure that customers' expectations are clearly being met.

Technology could be used to prevent accidental cancellations
A clear issue for retailers is the problems caused by accidental cancelations. Passive customer churn could be caused by simple errors such as a customer forgetting to update their credit card details.

Sherwen Studios believe that to combat this, retailers should add in a two-step cancellation process which would confirm a customer's intention to cancel, while also alerting a customer to a potential payment issue. Beyond this, Sherwen Studios are advocating for 'oneclick resubscriptions' that allow a former subscriber to re-sign up and pick up their subscription from where they left off. Sherwen says: "Just because a customer chooses to cancel their subscription doesn't mean that you can't focus on finding ways to win them back. Unfortunately, we've seen too many examples of subscription platforms that have needless barriers that could prevent a former subscriber from resubscribing. If the process is lengthy, or you're asking them to fill in information that they've previously already submitted it could be off-putting. If your digital marketing or SMS marketing activities are focusing on past subscribers, signing up again should be as easy as clicking a button and receiving a confirmation message."

Sherwen wants retailers to view their white paper as a starting point for technical innovation. He adds: "Through our white paper, we've been able to identify that customers are really looking for subscriptions that are quick and easy to navigate. But this is only possible when you have the right technical foundations in place. We've highlighted several areas where technology can be improved in ways that will enhance the overall subscription experience, from easy sign ups to frictionless payments. We've also highlighted the ongoing complexities surrounding auto-renewals and the importance of having systems in place to seamlessly communicate with wider supply chains."

Sherwen Studio's latest white paper, titled 'the future of subscription commerce' is up for renewal can be downloaded directly.

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