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As humans, we rely on anticipatory pleasures to stay happy. We make weekend dinner reservations on Monday, knowing the thought of enjoying a favourite meal with friends will get us through the work week. Or we stop at the same coffee shop every day to enjoy our delicious, regular drink order.

Unfortunately, the arrival of COVID-19 disrupted our ability to schedule, anticipate and enjoy many of the small rewards that make our days – and lives – enjoyable. Restaurants, coffee shops and stores closed for a time, and health concerns have kept many of us from visiting them with the same frequency once reopened.

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Yet as Brits we are nothing if not adaptable. So, we’ve found new ways to safely enjoy prearranged, uplifting treats. While this may seem like a small thing, Owen O’Kane, author and psychotherapist explains why doing so is actually quite important. “Even the smallest positive future events can motivate us when we’re feeling down – especially during the pandemic, which has been filled with disappointments.”

Enter the rise of the subscription box

One of the most reliable anticipatory pleasures is the arrival of a parcel. The transparency of our mail delivery processes has all but eradicated the anxiety of online ordering. We not only can count on when the packages will arrive, but we can also monitor their journey to our homes.

That makes ordering, watching and receiving a parcel one of the least stressful and most rewarding simple pleasures we can treat ourselves to. Not to mention the safest in terms of safeguarding personal health right now. As a result, subscription box delivery services rose significantly during the pandemic.

According to Barclaycard’s latest research, Brits have become “a nation of super subscribers,” with a typical seven subscription services per household. Because subscribers are willing to spend an average of £46 to £57 per month, the subscription economy has increased by 39.4% since this past July, and is now valued at £323m

British consumers have learned that subscription boxes have the capacity to meet a very human need to have something scheduled that they can look forward to. And it’s not only new, direct-to-consumer companies that are driving the subscription economy’s growth. Established brick-and-mortar brands are jumping on the subscription bandwagon too. For example, Tesco and Morrisons began offering Christmas food subscription boxes to their customers in 2020.

If your organisation hasn’t yet made subscription boxes part of their omnichannel retail strategy, it’s time to do so. And if you have, let’s talk about how you can use your subscription box service to increase loyalty and optimise sales within other channels.

Hello again, and again and again.

The Royal Mail’s recent UK Subscription Box Market report predicts that the subscription box market will be worth £1.8 billion by 2025. They attributed its rapid growth to the increasing adaptation of scheduled deliveries during the pandemic.

The fact that The Royal Mail is predicting the industry rises to nearly £2 billion by 2025 tells me they don’t see its popularity ending when, knock on wood, the pandemic does. So how can we optimise this non-

stop, emerging purchasing channel? Below are three of my top tips:

#1 Your customer invited you into their home, so be a good guest. Subscription relationships are an opportunity to deepen customer connections and loyalty. Just like a good guest chooses conversation topics that interest their hosts, your company should ensure that subscription box products and adjacent promotions are relevant, personalised and in alignment with consumer interest.

#2 Use your subscription box to expand your other purchasing channels. Omnichannel retailers can offer subscriber-specific promotions that motivate customers to purchase through additional channels.

These can include subscriber-only discounts that can be applied within brick-and-mortar stores. Some brands, like Liberty London, introduced the first beauty subscription service with a fully redeemable monthly fee. Subscribers to Liberty’s The Beauty Drop get exclusive access to membership for only £20 per month and get 100% redeemable credit to spend in store or online and receive four expertly curated beauty boxes a year.

#3 Reduce churn rate by keeping subscribers engaged. The more subscription boxes that enter the market, the more choices consumers will have. How will you keep your subscribers engaged with your brand and loyal to your box? By creating social engagement opportunities specifically for your subscribers. For example, shaving subscription business Cornerstone, launched an online magazine called “15 minutes”. It contains topics that are easily digested, hence the name “15 minutes”, and are of interest to subscribers without being overtly promotional.

What’s your next move?

At Eagle Eye, we’ve been working with brands like Liberty London to develop and power their subscription programmes. Their Beauty Drop box adds a new selling channel to Liberty’s brand, and builds customer loyalty through points, vouchers, and rewards.

As a result of their partnership with Eagle Eye and Chargebee, their billing partner, we’ve helped them to not only create a platform to manage subscription entitlements, but also drive more foot traffic into their physical locations using strategies like those I mentioned above.

Subscription-based products and services will continue to be a formidable retail presence in the coming years, and I strongly encourage retailers to make subscription services a prominent part of their 2022 omnichannel strategy. Ensure that your company is one of the many that will profit from this rapidly growing channel.

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