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3 Shipping Tips to Improve Subscription Box Customer Retention

Personalization. Convenience. A pleasant surprise once a month. The benefits of subscription boxes are drawing in more consumers than ever — and the proof is in the numbers. A recent McKinsey report revealed that the subscription box market has grown by 100 percent each of the past five years. In 2016 alone, revenue broke the $2.6 billion mark.

But with more success comes more competition, and not all companies have been able to measure up. Despite increased popularity, subscription companies face an uphill battle. Committing to a long-term subscription is a big ask for many customers. If a service doesn’t exceed their expectations, they’re likely to look for a way out.

That’s partly why subscription box churn rates are higher than ever. 40 percent of subscription box customers have cancelled at least one subscription. And according to Hitwise, one in every 266 online searches for a subscription box includes the word “cancel.”

To buck this trend and keep customers long-term, subscription companies have to be on the lookout for ways to satisfy and delight their customers. And mastering your shipping process is one way to go about it. These three tips can help you provide a subscription service that keeps customers coming back.

1. Meet Your Deadlines

It sounds simple, but it can’t be overstated: fast, reliable shipping is essential for your success. This is true for all online purchases, but especially for recurring deliveries like monthly subscriptions. Your customers signed up for automated subscriptions because of the convenience. If they have to spend time tracking down late or mishandled shipments, that benefit is lost.

Moreover, aggravated customers are likely to share their negative experience with others. Because word of mouth is such an important source of growth for subscription companies, one late package could drive away many potential new customers. To avoid this, make sure you’re monitoring the delivery windows in your transit reports. The vast majority of your packages should arrive within your quoted window. If that’s not the case, contact your shipping partner and see what they can do to improve.

2. Optimize Packaging

For subscription services, a box is much more than just a box. It’s your best chance to make a great first impression with your customers. Personalization is part of the appeal of many subscription boxes, especially curation-based boxes. Incorporating unique branding into your package design can excite and entice your customers before they even open the box.

Of course, there’s a balancing act here. Your packaging should look great, but it also has to be sturdy enough to make sure all products arrive in good condition. Personalization is key, but so is durability. During package design, pay attention to dimensional weight as well. An elaborate box might look attractive, but if it’s too large, the increase in shipping costs may not be worth it.

3. Be Proactive

The regularity of subscription box services is both a challenge and an advantage. On the one hand, you may have frequent periods of high shipping volume, which can strain your resources. On the other hand, you know when these busy periods are coming, and you can get prepared ahead of time.

So, what can you do to prepare for the rush? Regularly cleaning your address files will help get packages to the right people, avoiding misships or redeliveries. In addition, remember that not all delays happen in transit. If packages are late to leave your facility, on-time delivery may be impossible. To avoid this, focus on optimizing fulfillment, and make sure all boxes are ready to ship on time. If you’re well prepared before boxes hit the mail, you’ll have much better odds of being on time.

Subscribe and Thrive

Of course, many factors affect subscription box success. But quick, reliable shipping helps you exceed customer expectations, which pays off in more ways than one. Happier customers mean lower customer service costs, more word-of-mouth referrals, greater retention — and a brighter future for your company.