Subscription Box Shipping: Ongoing + Bulk Fulfillment (Post 2/3)

We’ve covered the dates you should use when billing your customers and organizing your orders into appropriate batches. These are important because they are the foundation on which your customer experience is founded. The rest is, and this post, is simply how you operate within those parameters in order to fulfill your shipments. So now […]

We’ve covered the dates you should use when billing your customers and organizing your orders into appropriate batches. These are important because they are the foundation on which your customer experience is founded. The rest is, and this post, is simply how you operate within those parameters in order to fulfill your shipments. So now let’s talk about what to do with those batches.

Download the Subscription Box Shipping & Renewal Billing E-book

There are two types of shipping schedules that we will discuss in this series: Ongoing + Bulk Fulfillment & Bulk Fulfillment:

Ongoing + Bulk Fulfillment:

  • You’re experienced in e-commerce fulfillment
  • It is important to you that your subscribers receive their first shipment quickly
  • You’ve noticed a lot of your new subscribers cancel due to issues with shipping
Bulk Fulfillment:

  • Your subscribers are part of a heavily-engaged, interactive community
  • Your subscription is a guided experience
  • You’re new to e-commerce, and are not ready to promise a quick turnaround time

 

This post will cover how to organize and run an ongoing, bulk fulfillment operation. If you’re looking for how to organize a purely bulk fulfillment operation (1 shipment per month), check out the next post in our series.

For the purposes of this post, ongoing fulfillment means that you are shipping a minimum of 4 times per month (once per week), but you could also send out shipments every day. We’ll leave it up to your capabilities, but the more often you ship, the better the subscriber experience you’re providing.

While we will be approaching the finer details from the perspective of utilizing Cratejoy specifically,, these concepts apply to subscription box fulfillment no matter what platform you operate on. Diving right in:

1. Receive sourced product on the 1st (or shortly thereafter).

Think of this as a prerequisite. Because you obviously need product to fulfill on an ongoing basis.

2. Identify new orders, then pick, pack, and ship.

No matter your shipping cadence, you want to identify all new orders that have been processed since the last time you fulfilled. In order to identify those orders in Cratejoy, you’ll need to filter your Shipments by Unshipped and Sub Cycle: 1. That identifies all unshipped orders that are the first shipment of record for any subscription.

Why should you go through this extra step? Because without fail, and barring extenuating circumstances, your subscribers are most at risk to churn at the beginning of their subscriber experience, specifically between their initial purchase and their first renewal. The easiest way to retain the subscribers you just spent time and money acquiring is crafting a positive experience from day one. Like it or not, Amazon has primed (Get it? Primed?) most shoppers to expect 2-day shipping as the norm. And, really, we can all agree that waiting 30+ days for anything is a poor experience.

Furthermore, by segmenting your orders and fulfilling new orders as they come in, you’re really not doing anything groundbreaking. Honestly, you’re just adhering to the e-commerce norm. But, in doing so, you will more easily increase the number of subscribers you retain for their 2nd shipment and beyond. For a subscription box, that means a lot of your key metrics such as churn, LTV, etc. are all trending positively.

3. Following the renewal of your subscribers, bulk ship all of your existing subscribers (those on their 2nd shipment and beyond).

Keeping in line with that instant gratification logic, your existing subscribers will also receive their shipment shortly after their transaction. It is important to time this bulk shipment for within 10 days of your renewal to maintain an optimal subscriber experience. Ship too far after that renewal date, and you’ll have created a long wait and a poor experience between the first shipment to the 2nd shipment.

Corollary: If you are forced to choose between a great experience in either the first shipment or the second shipment, then choose the 2nd shipment. Overall though, we’re interested in optimal practices and not trade-offs.

Download the Subscription Box Shipping & Renewal Billing E-book

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