Last updated: May 22, 2023
Subscription services have vastly evolved since their inception. We’ve certainly moved on from the early days of magazine and milk subscriptions to the point where you can get practically anything delivered to your doorstep under a subscription model, from boxes of coffee to men’s grooming products!
And to keep up with customer demand, many companies now offer subscription services for their products, which gives reason as to why the subscription industry is worth a staggering $26 billion today. And it’s only going to keep growing!
The subscription box fulfillment sector has changed over the years, skyrocketing since the pandemic. Today’s customers also enjoy the convenience of shopping online and receiving their products at their doorstep. With an increased demand for subscription-based businesses, Upscribe highlights the critical issues to help you ace your subscription order fulfillment.
Let’s get rolling!
What is Subscription Plan Fulfillment?
Subscription box fulfillment refers to the packing and shipping of products from an e-commerce store to buyers regularly. The process may involve picking, packing, labeling, and delivering the packages to the recipients.
Most subscription-based e-commerce stores distribute niche products to regular customers via subscription boxes. For example, product-subscription-based online stores may deliver toys, dog food, pharmaceuticals, makeup, etc. Some companies have an in-house service to fulfill their subscriptions, while others opt for third-party providers (3PLs).
Examples of Companies Offering Subscription Box Fulfillment
As a subscription box company, you may face challenges in fulfilling subscription orders. Some include shipping orders on time and maintaining quality control. Thanks to 3PLs, you can ensure you deliver your subscription boxes promptly to make your customers happy.
Here are examples of companies that can enable you to achieve your subscription box marketing goals.
Red Stag Fulfillment
Reg Stag Fulfillment is a cloud-based order fulfillment company for B2B and B2C ecommerce stores. You can use this 3PL to pick, pack, and ship your products to your valuable clients. It has several strategic warehouses in the U.S. to make inventory management a breeze and help you meet your customers’ needs.
ShipBob is a subscription box fulfillment platform that allows you to manage and customize your orders and monitor stock levels worldwide. The company has a global network across Australia, the USA, Canada, and Europe.
FedEx Fulfillment is a subdivision of the FedEx Corporation and a 3PL offering order fulfillment, warehousing, and shipping services. If you run a small-and medium-sized (SMB) online store with low order volumes, FedEx could be your ideal 3PL.
Benefits of Subscription Box Fulfillment
According to the latest statistics, the demand for subscription boxes has been soaring since the pandemic. 79% of buyers are interested in recurring deliveries of household and beauty products (via Forbes). As a result, you need an efficient order fulfillment process to maintain the momentum of demand.
A subscription box fulfillment service has massive advantages for your online shop. Here are some benefits:
Let’s face it: spending most of your time packing items pauses other vital tasks you could be doing. Wrapping and shipping products consume much of your time. Because of this, you have little time to provide quality customer service, develop new products, or run effective campaigns.
You would do well to leave subscription fulfillment to the specialists. You’re an e-commerce store owner and not a packer. So free up more time by outsourcing 3PLs to take care of your subscription box logistics.
You wouldn’t want your customers to get their subscription boxes at the wrong time. Also, delivering wrong or damaged products, incorrect sizes, etc., can leave your buyers with a bitter taste in their mouths.
And you can’t stop unhappy clients from expressing their frustrations on the Internet. So to avoid getting 2-star reviews, collaborate with an efficient outsourced order fulfillment company.
Reduce shipping costs
You may choose to do it yourself to fulfill your subscription orders when you’re just getting started. It may work well at first due to low order volumes. But your business will continue to grow, making it challenging to cope with high demand.
As a result, it’s wise to partner with a third-party provider to manage large-scale subscription order fulfillment at low costs. 3PLs have existing systems and partnerships with other vendors in the supply chain. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
How Subscription Box Fulfillment Works: A Step-by-Step Guide
You have decided to engage a 3PL to handle your subscription box fulfillment. That’s great! But how does the process work? Let’s dive in step-by-step to shed more light.
Step 1: Start with a great subscription box idea
After you have evaluated FedEx, ShipBog, or any other 3PL, the next step is to sign up for a subscription service. You have a wide range of box subscription plans you can select on the 3PL’s mobile app or website.
For instance, you can opt to pay a monthly, quarterly, or annual subscription. Don’t forget to provide your shipping and billing details.
Step 2: Order processing
Once you have completed your details and made your first payment for your subscription fulfillment service, the system takes over your inventory management. It automatically processes orders, verifies the buyer’s payment information, and creates an order for the subscription box.
Step 3: Inventory management
Here’s where a subscription order fulfillment process shines: it provides you with stock levels in real-time. The system monitors your inventory quantities to ensure you have adequate items to satisfy your customers’ needs.
Your order fulfillment platform may recommend substitutes or delay shipping until you have restocked your goods. So it helps you avoid understocking or holding too much stock.
Step 4: Packing and shipping
Your customer places an order through your website or mobile app. And once you verify the order and finalize the subscription box contents, the 3PL picks, packs, and labels them for shipping. Next, the fulfillment system creates a shipment label and sends it to a shipper.
Step 5: Delivery
For this step, the shipping carrier delivers the subscription box to your customer’s address. Meanwhile, the buyer gets a notification when their package is on its way. The destination and the shipping carrier determine the delivery times.
Subscription Box Fulfillment Works Best Practices
While subscription box marketing can advance your business’s growth, you should pay attention to several aspects to achieve your goals. Here are vital issues that can set you up for success in subscription plan fulfillment:
To make the most of your subscription-based online shop, consider marketing fulfillment. It’s increasing the marketing materials in your boxes. For example, you can use a referral bonus offer, promote a new item, or offer a coupon when a customer buys an extra product to double sales.
You can also add marketing inducements during the kitting or picking process. Kitting occurs when a buyer orders complementary items. You can package and ship multiple products as a single “kit” with a special SKU (stock-keeping unit). Kitting can expand your sales and promote slow-moving products. And it can lead to reduced costs due to trimmed picking and packing time.
Pack and ship orders for brand-new subscribers first
Treat your brand-new customers with kid gloves because you should make the best impression as soon as they place orders. You want to ensure they come back to shop again due to your exceptional customer service. Your subscription fulfillment platform should allow you to easily identify all the new orders from your first-time subscribers.
Deliver these items speedily and accompany them with a thank-you message. You must segment your orders as you receive them so you know which are old and which are new. In this way, you can reduce your churn rate while raising your retention rates for new buyers.
And if you want to improve the customer experience for your subscribers, a tool like Upscribe can make your subscription business model a breeze. It lets you deliver a great customer experience and treat your subscribers like royalty.
Consider customers’ service-level expectations
What do you need to do to ensure your subscription box clients are satisfied with your service? The answers to the question can show you the desired and adequate customer service expectations. The desired service level is what your buyer hopes to receive, like quality products delivered on time.
On the other hand, an adequate service level is that which your customer finds acceptable, such as getting value for their money. Determine these customers’ service-level expectations and endeavor to meet them.
Consider these questions when dealing with a subscription box fulfillment 3PL to meet your buyers’ needs:
- Is it possible to customize orders based on personal preferences?
- Can subscribers add items from an online store to their subscription order?
- Can you pack orders in a custom box if they require premium packaging?
- Can social events be accommodated by synchronizing deliveries?
Deliver a Delightful Experience to Your Subscribers
A subscription box fulfillment program allows you to satisfy your customers’ needs by automating the picking, packing, labeling, and shipping of your products. While a DIY solution can work for your subscription-based ecommerce store, a 3PL is much better. Having a subscription order fulfillment system is very important as your online shop expands.
You can also enhance your product-subscription business by using a platform to delight your customers and simplify your subscriptions. Upscribe is a web-based tool that lets your subscribers manage their subscriptions via SMS and email. Give them the freedom to swap or add products, gift a friend, or manage their next order in seconds without having to log in to a customer portal.
With Upscribe, you can grow your revenue by taking simple but effective steps to entice your customers. Provide subscribers with the flexibility to add products to their subscriptions or to build their own bundles and boxes to increase their average order value and lifetime value. Sign up for a free account today to take control of your subscription business!