This blog was contributed by Cheyenne Smith, Content Marketing Manager at Cratejoy. Cratejoy is the first SaaS-enabled marketplace for subscription boxes. More than 2,000 merchants power their subscription businesses with Cratejoy’s one-of-a-kind tools and marketplace ecosystem.
When it comes to subscription ecommerce, mastering your shipping schedule is critical. It’s one of the foundations of building a successful business. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re fulfilling orders weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Running a subscription box business means consistently providing a stellar shipping experience.
Master the ins and outs of subscription box shipping and billing. Check out our tried-and true hacks below.
1. Shorten Your Shipping Window
Subscription boxes are unlike traditional ecommerce purchases. In a standard ecommerce transaction, a shopper places an order, pays at the time of purchase, and the sale is complete.
But the operational lifecycle of a subscription business is more complicated. It involves multiple transactions over a longer time period. Subscription box business owners must maintain a tight schedule for many different dates. This includes when they accept new subscriptions and renew existing subscriptions. It also includes the dates on which they fulfill and ship orders as well as bill customers.
It may be enticing to give yourself as much time as possible to fulfill orders and ship boxes. If you have more time for order management, it can help you improve the customer experience, right? In reality, you need to shorten your subscription box shipping window, not extend it.
In 2017, Cratejoy studied the shipping practices of subscription ecommerce business owners. We found customer lifetime value (LTV) was higher for subscription box companies who had shorter (<14 days) shipping windows. In fact, reducing a 12-day shipping window by a single day can increase customer LTV by 63%. Additionally, the shipping window for first orders directly affected month one retention.
2. Consider Anniversary Billing
In a standard billing model, you invoice all customers on the same day of the month. You don’t take into account the specific date on which an individual shopper signed up. But in an anniversary billing model, you bill subscribers on the anniversary of their first order.
Anniversary billing puts subscriber satisfaction front and center. Bitsbox COO Anastasia Miliano can attest to its success. “Anniversary billing has greatly improved our subscriber experience in two main ways”, she says. “First, new subscribers get their first box shipped almost immediately! Second, it’s much simpler to explain to customers. Your first box ships immediately, and your subscription will renew a month (or 3 or 12 months) later.”
A new subscription box business owner may not be able to swing anniversary billing from the get go. But it’s a great goal to works towards. Especially if you want to increase subscriber happiness, lower churn, and grow your customer LTV.
3. Take Advantage of Shipping Integrations
Subscription box platforms like Cratejoy offer powerful shipping integrations with tools like ShipStation. ShipStation imports orders from Cratejoy and organizes shipping information automatically. The ShipStation-Cratejoy integration helps subscription ecommerce merchants optimize their shipping and logistics.
Cratejoy users can send boxes with any of the major mail carriers. Plus, they receive a free Stamps.com account and access to the best prices for shipping labels and postage. Not only that, subscription box merchants can use ShipStation to batch print packing slips and shipping labels.
The integration between ShipStation and Cratejoy helps streamline subscription box shipping and fulfillment. As a result, you can concentrate more on growing your business.
Interested in starting a subscription box business? Check out Cratejoy’s free guide, How to Start a Subscription Box Business in 8 Simple Steps.