There’s no doubt that we live in a membership world. You’ve seen the proliferation of subscription-based businesses explode in both the digital space (Netflix, Adobe, Spotify) and the physical space (Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club, Stich Fix). When launching or scaling a subscription commerce business for physical goods, it’s important to think about your goals and the customer experience from the outset. Will your membership program further and strengthen customer relationships? Is it the right channel for your brand and products?  Will it integrate easily into current systems? What happens when you succeed and you need to grow and scale?

Many companies offer subscription-inspired technology or add on subscription services on an a la carte basis, leaving marketers and brand owners to cobble different technology and systems together to run their businesses. But we think it’s best to find an all-in-one subscription commerce platform that can handle the whole job, while providing a comprehensive view of customer engagement. Below are a few of the key elements of an integrated subscription platform.

 1. Smart, flexible subscription-focused order management

An automated order and subscriber management system allows you to control the customer experience and fine-tune it as your business grows. Email notifications enable customers to track order processing and shipment dates, and confirm delivery. Order-processing algorithms allow you to aggregate orders across channels and devices, suggest subsequent orders, upsell and cross sell, identify fraudulent behavior, correct addresses and more.

2. User-Friendly Website Design + Shopping Cart

It may sound like a no-brainer to choose a technology provider with thoughtfully- designed APIs (application program interfaces), but we can’t stress enough how critical it is. The right API allows you to easily connect your platform to your website for a seamless check-out process and customer experience. When mismatched technologies are pieced together, that experience often suffers. Seek out a service provider who can integrate software into existing systems to improve the overall member experience.

3. Recurring Billing + Smarter Payment Processing

Using a sophisticated, secure billing and payment system often helps increase revenues. Look for a company that understands the difference between a one-time e-commerce transaction and a subscription requiring weekly or monthly credit card charges. Ask how they handle advanced management of recurring payments such as: credit card recycling, automatic payment-method updates, dunning and collections. Your approach to billing can make the difference between a happy subscriber and a cancelled member, directly impacting the bottom line.

4. Seamless Fulfillment 

Nothing is more important than what happens on your customer’s doorstep. That’s why it’s critical to find a partner who understands the emotional and functional requirements of that experience. You must surprise and delight customers with a fully branded experience. But, just as important, are the practicalities: on-time deliveries, well-executed and beautiful packages and boxes, simple returns and fast refunds.

5. Non-Stop Customer Care

It’s critical to let customers take center stage, providing the help they need at the moment they need it. That’s why it’s imperative to build a network and culture of high quality customer care. Connected contact centers that communicate with customers via email, chat and social media channels, while offering 24/7 phone support, dynamic call routing and agent matching is vital to maintaining an ongoing deep customer relationship. When a customer contacts you for any reason, having a 360-degree view of who they are and how they have interacted with your brand in the past can help your team anticipate and solve any issues or questions.

6. Business Intelligence

To create relevant and personalized brand experiences, you must understand how your customers behave and why. That means finding experts who can help tie the information together and help you make business decisions to positively impact your business.  Matching extensive consumer analytics, data and reports, with transparent access to order and shipment activity and presented in clean and easy to understand dashboards with real human and artificial intelligence behind it turns data into assessments and assessments into intelligence that helps shape media, products and operations.

Combining these core parts of a subscription business into a single platform can mean the difference between success and failure. Check out the OceanX platform features at www.oceanx.com/request-demo to schedule time to talk with a membership expert.