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Taking advantage of eCommerce subscription models

30th Nov 2017
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The popularity of subscription-based eCommerce is beginning to take off in the UK. Businesses like Nespresso and MyGlassesClub are achieving success because they create enjoyable buying experiences that turn potential one-time shoppers into long-term, repeat customers.

Consumers are drawn to subscriptions of this kind because they are a convenient and economical way to receive deliveries of the products they regularly buy. The subscription experience also offers the high level of personalisation that today’s customers expect.

In the case of Nespresso, customers choose the coffee machine and monthly plan that suits their lifestyle; whilst MyGlassesClub allows customers to choose two pairs of glasses each year backed by cover for damage and prescription changes. 

eCommerce subscription services are yet another trademark of the age of the customer: Let me buy exactly what I want without having to think too much or work too hard. And the subscription companies achieving the most success are letting their buyers do exactly that while retaining more customers and promoting advocacy for their brands.

As I have said before, trends in the B2C sector often influence those in B2B, so it seems likely that we will start to see these types of subscription-based eCommerce experiences delivered to B2B customers.

There are some obvious advantages. By offering a subscription model, companies can make serious inroads into the cost of customer retention, potentially increase revenue and benefit from more consistent order predictability.

But B2B companies have been relatively slow to implement a subscription ordering approach through ecommerce because, in reality, it’s not so simple to do.

B2B customers are not ordering coffee capsules or reading glasses, they are ordering corporate health care plans, jet engines, or custom fleet vehicles that contain thousands of parts and with seemingly-endless configuration scenarios.

With the typical B2B purchase being so complex, it’s proven challenging for companies to create a seamless, enjoyable eCommerce shopping experience, let alone one that can be repeated in a subscription model.

A way to solve the complexity for B2B companies is through Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solutions. They enable the offering of a full portfolio of highly-complex, highly configurable products and services online. By simplifying the buying experience for their eCommerce buyers, companies can then leverage CPQ’s capabilities to adopt a subscription-based sales model and deliver the levels of personalisation, convenience, and value that their customers are asking for.

With CPQ powering their ecommerce offering, companies can also make use of predictive analytics intelligence to personalise individual orders with product or solution recommendations informed by customer data or transaction history.

Also, thanks to CPQ’s dynamic document authoring capabilities, companies’ contract renewal processes could be completely automated, taking what was once a manual, back-and-forth process and turning it into an optimised, e-signature-and-go process.

In the future, whether B2B buyers are subscribing to monthly orders of industrial equipment or automated renewals of service agreements, we predict that one thing will be certain: CPQ plus eCommerce will be the solution enabling them to do so.

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