By Mark Riffey, 4-11-12
A mainstream, old school consumer product company figured out how to make it easy for customers to use their product at the recommended interval and do so with as little labor/friction as possible.
Rather than rolling their own, they used Amazon's infrastructure to deal with payments, shipping and subscription management.
"Amazon Subscribe & Save allows you to subscribe for RID-X to be delivered straight to your door every month. When you sign up for RID-X through the Amazon Subscribe & Save service, you receive 15 percent off and free shipping every month. While you can subscribe to any RID-X product, it is recommended you choose either RID-X 1-Dose Powder or RID-X 1-Dose Liquid so you stay on top of your septic system maintenance. You can cancel your subscription through Amazon.com at any time.
RID-X has *television ads* that send people to that Amazon page. Serious money is being spent.
I've suggested this sort of thing in the past. If a septic tank additive manufacturer can do it, surely you can too.
Of course, you can buy other items of this nature at Amazon.com, Wal-Mart.com etc. Even toothpaste can be purchased by subscription
What it isn't and what it is
This isn't about selling people stuff they don't need or more than they need.
It's about making it as easy as possible for the customer (with a by-product of making it easy for you) while putting a fence around your customers.
If your RID-X or your Crest 3D automatically shows up at home at just the right interval and ships free, why would you spend time and fuel making a special trip to pick up those things?
Yes, I realize you might pick them up when you're already at the store for other things, but that isn't the point.
When you force your customer to buy the old-fashioned way, you take the chance *every single time* that they will be lured by a coupon or some other bright shiny object (BSO). They might be disappointed in the product or service that coupon or BSO delivers. It might even hurt that consumer or business - something you could have prevented.
I don't have enough time
Think about the complaint that so many people have these days. "I don't have enough time ."
Yes, it's often an excuse. Yes, they need to prioritize what's important. Are you helping them do that?
Part of that prioritization is doing the important things rather than going to your store. When someone can deliver the product you need for the same or lower price than you'd pay by getting in the car, driving there, using fuel (more money), picking up $57 worth of Richard Simmons videos that you won't use and so on, why go there at all?
Would your customers rather have your product magically appear at their door? Or would they prefer to drive to your store? Some of them would rather take their kid to the park.
Even if you don't sell consumer-class goods to businesses, there are services or products they need all the time. They are as time-pressured as consumers. They'd rather be on the phone with customers, working *on* their business rather than running errands, or creating their next big thing. But instead, you're making them drive across town. Or you're making them remember to initiate those purchases (if they remember = possibly lost sale).
This isn't just about commodities like RID-X and toothpaste. Customers of CPAs, attorneys and other professionals have *predictable* recurring needs that can be sold on a subscription basis.
"But Mark, no one else in our market sells professional services that way." So?
That infrastructure thing
If you make things that have to be shipped, it might not be workable for you (for whatever reason) to ship pallets of your stuff to Amazon's warehouses. Maybe you don't meet their minimums. Or maybe you make things that aren't shipped at all.
Even so, you might have a subscription-capable thing to sell. If you do, there are automated subscription-driven solutions
(Google search) out there that don't require you to build it yourself. The right one will allow you to serve those customers in a way that fits you both.
[End of article]