How to increase UK customer retention with subscriptions
The UK recently released a projected timeline for how the country will start lifting regional lockdowns that have been in place for months.
For most people, this news is cause for celebration—but what does this change mean for ecommerce brands, and especially brands with subscription services?
Of course, 2020 marked a boom in ecommerce and subscription-style purchases: Ecommerce sales grew by 46 percent and subscription sales were up 12 percent, in addition to over 100 percent growth over the past five years.
If your ecommerce brand saw similar growth, you might be wondering how to continue building on that growth as lockdown lifts.
What will consumers care about as the UK reopens?
As lockdowns lift and more venues and activities reopen, what can brands expect in terms of consumer behavior?
Although we may see increases of in-person sales in brick-and-mortar shops once the lockdown lifts, there are still more people shopping online now than ever before, which won’t just suddenly end in 2021 and beyond.
In fact, online sales had been growing significantly even before the pandemic. The pandemic sped up ecommerce adoption, but ecommerce grew 20 percent in 2019.
With that in mind, some of the most important benefits of ecommerce will still be important to consumers. Here are three key elements that customers will continue to expect from the brands they buy from during this transition time.
The convenience and safety of shopping from home became a necessity during the pandemic. Consumers used to pop into the grocery store when they were out of dish soap, but long lines and empty store aisles made consumers pivot this spend online.
With restaurants reopening and vaccinations on the rise, the convenience of shopping online will be even more attractive to people. After all, people will want to travel and to spend time on what matters most to them, like seeing friends and family, traveling, going to the cinema, and more.
2. Great value
Discounts are increasingly common in retail, leading many customers to wait for sales to stock up on certain items. In fact, more than half of shoppers said they were paying more attention to products on sale in 2020.
With new customer offers and exclusive subscription rewards, ecommerce brands can intelligently offer discounts when they’ll make the most impact to customers’ purchase decisions. This enables customers to get the benefit of great value without forcing brands to lose profit margin.
3. Personal connections to brands
Consumers don’t just buy from brands because they’re the least expensive, they buy because they love their products and what the brand represents.
Customers are four to six times as likely to stay engaged (and purchasing!) if they believe in the brand’s mission.
By opening up to customers—by sharing your brand mission, creating customer experiences based on empathy, and more ways of humanizing your brand—you can also tap into your customer’s desire to connect as lockdowns lift.
How to increase retention and thrive in times of change
If those are the qualities your UK customers will look for, how do you showcase your brand and product to highlight how subscriptions add value for your customers? Here are three tips to inspire your customers to keep coming back to your brand:
1. Appeal to what customers are feeling
As the UK lockdown lifts, your customers will be excited to do all the fun things they’ve missed out on these past few months—whether that’s spending time with friends and family, taking day trips and vacations, hanging out in their favorite restaurants and bars, or even getting that much-needed post-lockdown haircut.
This means your customers are going to have a lot on their minds and will be much busier than they have been through the lockdown.
To keep your brand top of mind, think about how you and your products (and subscription program, if you already have one) can improve your customers’ experiences when they try all these new and exciting things again.
Perhaps you sell tableware or garden furniture? Promote your products as the ultimate must-have accessory when your customers can finally entertain friends and family in their gardens.
If you sell beauty products, lean into the idea that your customers may have more motivation to spend time on their appearance now that they’ll finally be back out in society.
By showing your customers you’ve thought about these kinds of things, you’ll portray your brand as empathetic, prompting deeper connections and increased customer retention, and ultimately, more sales.
2. Highlight convenience of subscriptions
If you haven’t considered a subscription model yet, now’s the time to think about how you could increase repeat customers by offering subscriptions.
Your customers will appreciate anything you can do to help them get back out there enjoying their lives again.
That includes giving them ample opportunity to continue to enjoy your products without having to search your website and adding products to their cart—especially if they usually buy the same products again and again.
Grind, an innovative chain of coffee shops and espresso bars based in London, England, promoted their coffee pod subscription more heavily through the first UK lockdown. It was hugely successful, resulting in over 71 percent of their customers becoming repeat purchasers. Grind’s Brand Coordinator, Frankie Cooke, recently shared her learnings to help other brands get started.
If you’re already offering subscription products, now’s the time to share how your subscriptions will make your customers’ lives easier and more convenient as the lockdown ends. Your products allow your customers to focus on the more important things, so remind them of that!
3. Design a program to reward repeat customers
Another way to maintain customer retention post-lockdown is to design and promote a rewards program to treat your most loyal customers and encourage more loyalty from others.
Once you’ve created your program, or if you already have one, take some time to remind your customers of the benefits they can get by continuing to shop with you.
You may even want to consider adding an extra perk or two, which are directly connected to what your customers care about most right now. A free coffee at their favorite cafe, perhaps? Discounts off a gym membership? An at-home picnic kit to share with their friends and family?
The options are limitless.
As long as your perks suit your brand and audience, you’ll encourage some renewed vigor for your rewards program by introducing new perks and benefits—even if some of them only last for a limited time.
You could even link certain rewards to your subscription model, like free delivery or a unique discount code just for subscribers. This will help you promote your subscription-based products and rewards program, prompting excitement and engagement for both in one fell swoop.
The time is now to prepare for the UK lockdown lifting
As the UK lockdown comes to an end with each stage of the government’s roadmap completed, your customers will be more distracted than they have been for months.
They’ll be excited to do all the things they’ve missed. And they’ll be looking for more ways to add convenience and value to their lives—particularly when shopping online.
Show your customers how you can be the brand to help them—to help them improve their social lives, their busier lives, and their shopping experiences.
Just like you’d spend the months before a large campaign or holiday promoting your brand, these next months are the perfect opportunity for you to remind your customers of how your brand can help and why your customers should keep shopping with you—even once the lockdown is completely lifted.