Retail Woes? What About Subscriptions to Stuff?

  |  December 22, 2008   |  Comments

120 cans of cat food per month. There aren't a lot of constants in life, but one of mine is that my two cats go through 120 cans of cat food every four weeks, come hell or high water

pet_food_on_shelf.jpg120 cans of cat food per month.

There aren't a lot of constants in life, but one of mine is that my two cats go through 120 cans of cat food every four weeks, come hell or high water.

That's a lot of cat food to lug home, particularly in New York City, where we residents tend to be car-less. But recently a friend of a friend turned me on to Amazon's subscribe-and-save feature. Voila! Now, each month like clockwork, those 120 cans magically appear on my doorstep. I get a 15 percent discount on the product, and there's no shipping fee (the major pet retailers such as Petco offer subscriptions as well, but the shipping fees make their version of a subscription service prohibitively expensive).

In this, the most dismal era of consumer consumption in memory, why isn't Amazon doing more to promote this indispensable service? And why don't more online retailers follow suit?

Diapers. Over-the-counter medications. Grocery items. Personal care items. Snacks. Office supplies. Everyone's got a product they can't live without. Most consumers have products that require regularly scheduled replenishing, from blades for razors to filters for humidifiers.

Guaranteeing this level of service and savings doesn't just make sense for consumers, but also for online merchants, who can bank on a lock on this portion of consumer spending. The trick is to make it economically worthwhile for buyers, with flexible options to change, cancel, accelerate or postpone orders (as Amazon does via a simple interface).

Guaranteed customer loyalty is nothing for retailers to sneeze at. If you're selling online, what portion of those sales can you market as a subscription? And how will you promote that service? We all know the power of word of mouth marketing, but even mighty Amazon isn't going out of its way to spread the word on its subscription services.

There's some serious opportunity here for retailers to subscribe to customer loyalty by allowing their customers to subscribe to their services.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca was previously VP, U.S. operations of Econsultancy, an independent source of advice and insight on digital marketing and e-commerce. Earlier, she held executive marketing and communications positions at strategic e-services companies, including Siegel & Gale, and has worked in the same capacity for global entertainment and media companies, including Universal Television & Networks Group (formerly USA Networks International) and Bertelsmann's RTL Television. As a journalist, she's written on media for numerous publications, including "The New York Times" and "The Wall Street Journal." Rebecca spent five years as Variety's Berlin-based German/Eastern European bureau chief. Rebecca also taught at New York University's Center for Publishing, where she also served on the Electronic Publishing Advisory Group. Rebecca, author of "The Truth About Search Engine Optimization," was ClickZ's editor-in-chief for over seven years.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

Resources

Jobs

    • Digital Marketing Analyst
      Digital Marketing Analyst (GovLoop) - Washington D.C.Are you passionate about audience acquisition? Love effective copy and amazingly effective...
    • Product Specialist
      Product Specialist (Agora Inc. ) - BaltimoreDescription: The Product Specialist is hyper-focused on the customer experience and ensures that our...
    • Partnerships Senior Coordinator
      Partnerships Senior Coordinator (Zappos.com, Inc.) - Las VegasZappos IP, Inc. is looking for a Partnerships Senior Coordinator! Why join us? Our...