Your subscribers are more than just shoppers—they’re also your audience. When a customer signs up for your service, you’re guaranteed their business for a period of time. Whether it’s a weekly, monthly, or quarterly purchase, a subscription gets your customer on a regular and consistent schedule to receive and buy your products. Subscriptions hold more value than one-time purchases, and not just monetarily.
In addition to their business, you also have continued access to your customer’s attention and engagement. On that same schedule—or even more regular depending on the number of touchpoints you have with customers.
Longevity leads to creativity
It’s becoming more and more clear that the future of shopping and selling is in subscriptions. People are moving away from fast fashion and quick fixes in favor of reliable, sturdy, and quality products that align with their values and are born from a greater mission. Within this type of relational commerce, the possibilities are endless. Subscriptions give you more access to customer data and insights to validate your product, optimize your processes, and improve your services. And with the assurance of a customer’s long-term business, you can start to imagine some really cool things. With subscriptions, you can move beyond simply selling into the realm of storytelling—treating each order like a chapter in a complete journey.
Let’s take a look at some merchants who have mastered the art of weaving narrative and novelty into their subscriptions.
Curate a collection
With a subscription, you know your customer will have more than just one single product. Through replenishment subscriptions, like for beauty products or snack items, they’ll receive refills and restock. But, you can also incorporate variety while still being cognizant of the total subscription
Founded in 2001, Juniper Books creates custom-designed and hand-assembled books. Originally focused on designing book jackets, founder Thatcher Wine saw the potential for a business dedicated to helping people rediscover the power of print and the positive impact of reading. Juniper Books now offers curated libraries through a subscription. Customers can sign up for the Books Everyone Should Own Program, and receive a timeless novel at their door each month. The novels in the program are chosen for their long-standing literary contributions, poignant themes, and masterful storytelling.
With the result being a complete library, Juniper Books thinks of their products within this extended lifetime—they bear in mind how all the books line up, how the jackets complement each other, and how the collection stands both as a literary and aesthetic compilation.
Consider how your products can form a collection or build upon each other to transform your customer’s subscription experience into a compelling journey. While this may be more challenging for replenishment subscriptions, there are ways to create a smaller web within your delivery schedule. When they receive their shipment, they’ll be feeling the excitement of a new episode in their favorite series coming out, or finding a rare stamp they’ve been searching for. (Or any collectible item—I know not everyone shares my interest in tiny squares of sticky paper.)
Seasons is another concept you can create subscriptions around. When Halloween, springtime, or the holiday season roll around, many people love to spruce up their homes with festive decorations. One massive benefit of subscriptions is that they reduce cognitive load. Customers can sign up to receive their favorite products without minimal effort—in other words, they can “set it and forget it.” Decocrated also take out the guesswork and planning for customers. In this case, decorating a space requires trips to the shop, moving ornaments around, and agonizing over a color scheme. Signing up for curated subscriptions is like getting really into a book series—you know something exciting is in store in the next episode, but there’s still that factor of delight and surprise.
Decocrated’s mission is to, “create a beautiful story for every season.” The company creates stylish, seasonal home decor subscription boxes. Founded by design duo Kate Aurelia and Kasey Free, the Decocrated team is made up of multidisciplinary experts, who work in a mixture of techniques, from traditional painting and collage to digital.
Every season they send customers a limited edition crate with high-quality decor, like pillows, frames, prints, and more. Each crate comes with a booklet that details the key themes, colors, and elements of the box and provides styling tips and tricks to make the most of the components. Boxes are shipped every 3 months, so they arrive right on time for a seasonal home refresh. Decocrated leans into seasons as universal touchpoints for their customers and for organizing product “chapters.”
Blend product and poetry
Keap Candles blends story-telling, scents, and seasons to create a multi-sensory experience. Like Decocrated, they lean into equinoxes and holidays to design their product lines. Founded on the notion of connection, Keap thinks about narratives and journeys within their subscription program.
Keap wanted to create broader stories, and connect scents to themes, like hope, optimism, or peace. They envisioned their candles as a vessel for conversation, items that would spark inspiration and stoke mindfulness.
For their products, Keap incorporates romantic literary elements. Each candle is blended with symbolic scents and accompanied by a poem that evokes the motifs and concepts. They create entire moods and energies around their candles, encouraging emotional and cognitive connections. Keap appreciates the written word. They feature love letters from customers on their website, showcasing the relational aspect of their business. And, their ignite series includes creative writing about both their brand values and current products.
Bring storytelling into your subscription service through content. Develop a cohesive brand story to live on your website, so all potential and existing customers can read about your mission and background. You can write newsletters, design a guidebook, or compile resources related to brand values, like articles on cooking for a hot sauce subscription.
Today, merchants that stand out are building brands and businesses that resonate, and offer more than “just an item.” Since the dawn of time, humans have related to stories, learned lessons from fables, absorbed values from myths. When you leverage this innate instinct, your product naturally becomes valuable and meaningful, a heroic character in a memorable tale.