In today’s competitive, commercial landscape, businesses work harder than ever before to establish long-term relationships with their customers. The rise of e-Commerce makes this even more difficult, since it’s now easier for anyone to open a business, thus giving customers many more opportunities to take their business elsewhere.
Businesses are presented with a real challenge to find new ways to keep their existing customers coming back again and again.
In the last few years, businesses large and small have experimented with new, technology-enabled sales models in an effort to both delight customers and establish longterm relationships with them. Some of the more notable models fall under the category of “subscriptions.” They include:
- Offering customers scheduled, curated products at a discount (e.g. Dollar Shave Club, Kiwi Crate, Art In A Box, Birchbox, 12Society, Crafty Creatives)
- Offering customers monthly selections at discounted prices (e.g. Just Fab shoes, Adore Me lingerie, Book of the Month Club)
- Enabling customers to schedule orders on a recurring basis, often with incentives like free shipping (e.g Amazon subscriptions, Tassimo Coffee purchases, BuyFoodResearch.com)
Each of these subscription models allow businesses to establish on-going relationships with customers. In order for those relationships to work, however, businesses must be able to set the terms of the relationship (what customers have to do in order to obtain the discounts, products and services) and then give customers the tools they will need to opt-in, opt-out and define their participation in that relationship within the terms set by the business.
As with any long-term relationship, these subscription customer relationships require consistent attention and flexibility if they are to last.
As an established supply-chain management company with proprietary business technologies, ModusLink is uniquely positioned to help businesses avoid the pitfalls that surround the long-term customer engagement that is today’s subscriptions. From product sourcing, packaging and inventory management to order processing, payment collection, government reporting, returns management and multi-lingual customer service, ModusLink is involved in every step of the customer’s purchasing experience. That is why we’ve developed a unique platform to help users drive recurring revenue and customer loyalty and value.
ModusLink’s Subscription Solution is a flexible, easy-touse offering that follows the entire subscription lifecycle process from the initial subscription order through pre-delivery notification to ensure superior customer service. The platform-agnostic solution, powered through ModusLink’s enterprise-class Poetic™ software, is the only global full omni-channel offering for creating and managing online subscriptions. It includes functionality such as multiple payment options, financial management and tax services, entitlement management, systems integration, invoicing and fulfillment – all in one, fully integrated solution.
Users have the option of integrating ModusLink’s Subscription Solution either as a standalone offering or via ModusLink’s Poetic Service Cloud, which enables end customers to tailor their subscriptions from product selection to delivery schedule directly in a merchant’s online store and modify it at any time.
We take a modular approach to solving the retailer’s subscription management needs. Businesses can choose to utilize ModusLink’s full offering including:
- Sourcing materials
- Warehousing products
- Hosting online catalog and shopping cart
- Pick-pack-and-shipping orders
- Collecting payment
- Making tax payments to governments
- Managing returns
- Providing customer support in multiple languages and time zones world-wide
- Providing a customer portal for managing subscription accounts
Key features and benefits of ModusLink’s Subscription Solution include:
- Worldwide Payment Options help businesses establish subscriptions using a variety of credit card, PayPal and other, local options to customers worldwide.
- Full lifecycle customer communications make sure customers are aware of upcoming orders and keeps them up-to-date as they process.
- Customer self-service interface provides customers with the ease and flexibility needed to make subscriptions last today.
- Risk Management offers full compliance with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard and uses over 120 risk checks to protect against fraud and chargebacks.
HOW IT WORKS
The process is simple and can be divided into the following 4 steps:
- Process an initial order and define a payment method for future orders
- Send Poetic™ the order items and payment token
- On a scheduled basis, process the subscription orders using the payment token
- Provide customers with the ability to monitor and update their subscriptions
1. PROCESS AN INITIAL ORDER AND DEFINE A PAYMENT METHOD FOR FUTURE ORDERS
It starts with customers placing orders on an existing online shopping site. A small change to the shopping cart or product catalog gives customers the opportunity to identify products they’d like to place on subscription and identify how frequently they want to receive those items.
Then, when customers pay for their order with PayPal or a credit card, they can be asked if they would like to use this payment method for subsequent orders.
ModusLink’s Subscription Solution boasts built-in Financial Management Services to help merchants tackle industryspecific payment challenges but can also work with any modern payment service provider that offers a tokenized payment option.
2. SEND THE ORDER ITEMS AND PAYMENT TOKEN
Once customers complete the order, the shopping cart system sends a copy of the order to Poetic™. Poetic™ uses line-item values to identify the items that will be placed on subscription. Poetic™ also stores the payment token and other customer information necessary to generate subsequent orders and allow the customer to manage their subscriptions.
3. ON A SCHEDULED BASIS, PROCESS THE SUBSCRIPTION ORDERS USING THE PAYMENT TOKEN
Once the subscription information is stored, we are able to generate new orders for customers on a regular basis.
Every day, our Subscription Solution reviews each subscription in the system to determine if it is time to place another order. Using the subscription information stored, it identifies all of the products belonging to a subscription order, calculates the total price of the order (including shipping and taxes) and pre-authorizes the customer’s payment method.
If the order payment successfully pre-authorizes, the Subscription Solution will either send that order information to ModusLink’s order processing application or, in a truly modular fashion, send that order to a business’ existing order processing system. Either way, ModusLink has it covered.
4. PROVIDE CUSTOMERS WITH THE ABILITY TO MONITOR AND UPDATE THEIR SUBSCRIPTIONS
Once customers have set up a subscription, they will need to be able to make adjustments to their subscriptions. They will want to be able to cancel or suspend their subscription.
They may want to change the products that arrive together in a given order, and they will need to be able to update their payment information as credit cards expire or are replaced.
The REST web services include functions to:
- Integrate into your single sign on portal
- List and update subscription items and quantities belonging to one subscription order
- Display and modify the subscription schedule (interval and specific dates can be maintained)
- Suspend, cancel and resume the subscription
- Edit customer bill-to information
- Edit customer ship-to information
- Update customer payment information (completed through integration with 3rd party payment services)
Integration with the widget is as simple as:
- Setting up one server-to-server REST call for validating the user’s access to the subscription information
- Embedding the widget (with a token obtained from the REST call) in a DIV in the body of a page on the portal, and
- Updating widget-related CSS to get the colors and styles just right to match the portal
No integration is required to take advantage of the email notifications ModusLink’s Subscription Solution will send customers during each phase of the subscription cycle. All that is needed is to update the email templates to reflect company styles. The Solution will automatically notify the customer when an order is scheduled, when the order is placed and shipped, and if there are any issues with the order along the way.
In this competitive marketplace where companies often struggle to gain new customers, turning your one-time customers into loyal subscribers is a strategy that cannot be overlooked.