E-commerce subscription services are the latest fad. The convenience they offer appeals to just about every generation in one way or another.
Entrepreneurs have been launching e-commerce subscription services for several years. The list of products and services available through a subscription service are too many to count. The recurring stream of income, ability to forecast product needs, and the ability to retain and add customers are all great reasons to consider this model.
It takes grit and perseverance to launch any business, and even more if you are entering the crowded space of subscription services. If you want your subscription service business to succeed, there are three critical steps you must take before launching. Make sure you know what your customers want and why, study the competition, and then do it better than they did!
1. Create your audience around a successful product with unique offerings.
What do your customers want, and why? You already have a product consumers are purchasing and raving about. Do some research and find a product that fits in the ritual the customer already has established. Get clarity on what other products consumers use or want while they are using yours. The benefits of completing exhaustive research around my customer base was that it painted the psychological makeup of my ideal customers. I now understood what they liked and what they didn't like, including everything they appreciated in an online shopping experience.
I launched JavaPresse selling a manual burr coffee grinder. I had an existing audience, so finding something that paired nicely with what I was already selling was obvious. It enabled me to continue to market another product, coffee, repeatedly, which allowed our unique customers to use their JavaPresse manual burr coffee grinder regularly.
By choosing a niche with high potential and options for various streams of income, it allowed JavaPresse to be malleable in a competitive marketplace. Investing your time and money to acquire your first customers is the highest-leverage activity you can do as a new business owner. This investment will fund growth at minimal risk while allowing you to collect feedback to increase the attractiveness of your product to consumers who know nothing about your brand.
2. Research your competitors.
Do a deep dive into your competitors. Find out who the top seller is in your space and what they have tried. What worked and what didn't?
Don't make the same mistakes they did! Improve on what made them successful and learn from their missteps. Learning from the mistakes others have made doesn't guarantee you won't fail. Instead, you fail smart -- you learn from your own mistakes, make it better, and don't make the same error twice.
Research means studying a lot of companies, products, and launches. Spend intentional time listening to podcasts, reading books, and delving into what made competitors successful and where they fell short. Discover who the bestsellers are, what they are selling, who they are selling to, how they became successful, and how they keep their customers. Use that information to develop your product into something of high quality, and customers will want to purchase again and again.
Create competitive offerings, look at others, and make yourself unique in an ecosystem to help customers get to know your product. Don't be afraid to be loud in a crowded marketplace. Be the newcomer who has come to stay.
3. Discover what attracts consumers to your unique product.
You don't need a unique idea; you need to do it better! You've researched your competition, so use what you learned and make your offering better than theirs. Fill their gap! Excel where they fell short and make sure your customers are being served well.
The customer experience should not be overlooked, especially if that experience can set you apart in the marketplace. It's the experience that brings them back for seconds. I focused on these four areas to perfect the ultimate customer experience: unboxing, post-purchase emails, over-the-top-customer service, and easy-to-understand product support.
It took relentless dedication to create an unboxing experience that customers couldn't wait to have again. We mastered how we communicate as a brand: being dedicated to responding every single time a customer reached out, left a review (positive or negative), or engaged with JavaPresse, because it was an opportunity to create lifelong fans. And creating instructions that are easy to understand and follow means the fans we've created will spread the news about JavaPresse.
Becoming an entrepreneur in the E-commerce subscription space is hard work. You can't rush into production and start selling a product that is not refined. You must be nimble in product development and be continually improving the product and customer experience. Entering an already crowded market space means your product and the customer experience must be better than your competitors.