Why garden retailers should explore subscription commerce plans that focus on loyalty points, not discounts

by | Jul 14, 2023 | Business, Features, News | 0 comments

Retail subscriptions should focus on loyalty points, not introductory discounts or referral schemes. That’s the message from digital retail specialists Sherwen Studios. The Chester-based firm have questioned shoppers about their likes and dislikes of subscription boxes as part of their latest white paper, titled “The future of subscription commerce is up for renewal”

Sherwen Studios commissioned research data and analytics group YouGov* to survey more than 2,000 UK adults about their thoughts and opinions relating to subscription commerce. Their white paper not only explores customer expectations and opinions on retail subscription commerce but provides practical insights into how green-fingered retailers can use technology to meet those expectations.

There has been a growth in online sales of garden-related products, including house plants and bulb or seed subscriptions are increasingly common.

The research has identified that UK adults are increasingly drawn to subscriptions that offer flexibility, value for money and recognise ongoing customer loyalty. Garden retailers that can offer bespoke retail subscriptions that are easy to adapt to the customer’s personal preferences will be more likely to attract and retain subscribers.

Key statistics to emerge from Sherwen Studio’s research include:

  • Loyalty points and referral schemes
    • Over a quarter of all UK adults want the ability to collect loyalty points.
    • Only 11% of UK adults are interested in referral schemes.
  • Introductory discount codes
    • Only 18% of consumers would consider signing up for a higher-priced subscription box with an introductory discount. 38% of consumers would consider signing up for a lower-priced monthly subscription.
    • 71% were adamant that they would not sign up for a subscription box with a lower price at first but a higher price each month.
    • 20% of current subscribers openly admit that they plan to cancel their subscription when they get to the end of an introductory discounted rate.

Sherwen Studios believe that these statistics demonstrate the importance of creating retail subscriptions that are designed with the needs of the consumer in mind. Too many retailers are focusing their subscription commerce strategies on customer acquisition, rather than rewarding and recognising long-term subscribers.

Loyalty points are an easy way for garden-related brands to reward existing subscribers and allow the customer to cash in these points for additional products or upselling opportunities. With the right technological infrastructure in place, retailers should be able to easily set up loyalty point schemes that allow customers to save money on specific products or aspects of their subscription.

Tiered schemes could even be created that are bespoke to individual customers.

For example, long-term subscribers could see an increase in points to recognise subscription anniversaries or to celebrate a customer’s birthday. Retailers could even set up additional points bonuses based on products relating to the customers’ personal preferences such as their preferred house plants, or seed or bulb preferences. These could be tailored to their customer profiles which may give insights into their garden type, soil preference or even according to sun/shade preferences.

Matt Sherwen, owner of Sherwen Studios says:

“We’re not surprised that a quarter of UK adults have told us that they love a loyalty points scheme. Technically speaking, they are relatively simple initiative to implement but they go a long way to rewarding and recognising long-term customers. We’ve seen examples of retailers offering tiered loyalty schemes that reward ongoing subscribers, and we think this is a great way of fostering long-term customer care and brand advocacy.

“We’d like to challenge retailers to consider implementing a bespoke approach to their loyalty schemes, ensuring that customers are rewarded according to their personal likes and dislikes. By treating each customer with care and attention, they will be much more likely to remain subscribed to you for the foreseeable future.”

Matt also believes that retailers should pay careful attention to their research, particularly as it’s become clear that potential subscribers are not attracted by introductory periods. In fact, Sherwen Studio’s research has suggested that introductory discounts could be more off-putting than enticing for new subscribers.

He says: “We know how frustrating it can be to see numerous offers available to new customers only, often at the expense of existing customers. Our research has reiterated that this is a huge bug-bear for shoppers. It’s confirmed that introductory discounts can be extremely off-putting to customers, with a huge proportion telling us that they plan to cancel as soon as any discounted period concludes.

“From a retail perspective, this approach is also costly. Customer acquisition is undoubtedly important, but we believe that subscription commerce differs from transactional retail because it gives you a unique chance to build long-term relationships with your customers. The longer a customer remains subscribed to you, the more likely they will become your brand advocate. We want to encourage retailers to look at how to create a subscription package that rewards and values the customer while also recognising how the customer is integral to your long-term business success.”

Sherwen Studio’s latest white paper, titled “The future of subscription commerce is up for renewal” can be downloaded directly from https://www.sherwen.com/subscription-commerce-whitepaper

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