How Can Subscription Box Businesses Adapt to the Coronavirus Climate?

The effects of coronavirus are being felt on a global scale. Given the widespread impact of the virus thus far, most subscription-based businesses are sure to feel its repercussions in the long term.

Currently, food and beverage subscriptions are in particularly high demand as most consumers are social distancing, sheltering in place or under quarantine. Many subscription companies are emphasizing safety initiatives and ways in which their brand can help the community.

Looking ahead, the pandemic presents untold challenges. It makes good business sense to start planning now to ensure that your business can adapt as this new reality unfolds.

Leverage the Advantages of the Subscription Model

Like ecommerce companies, subscription businesses have the advantage of delivering products to their subscribers’ doorsteps, helping them avoid trips to the store.

Replenishment subscriptions can be particularly useful for stocking up on essential items. Curated subscriptions may appeal to subscribers who want to explore new products from the comfort and safety of their homes, especially as they tire of hunkering down for an extended period.

What’s more, many subscription companies have worked hard to cultivate a sense of community through their social presence. That personal connection can be particularly valuable now when subscribers may be feeling isolated.

Highlight the advantages of your business model in marketing efforts and on social channels.

Mitigate Your Risk

While it can be difficult to know exactly what to expect in such uncharted territory, take time now to identify potential supply chain disruptions. What if you are unable to source key elements of your box or are forced to suspend fulfillment operations temporarily? Identify proactive steps you can take now to avert those issues or minimize their impact. If you’re partnering with a fulfillment provider, they can help you to map out a plan of action and think creatively on how to approach supply chain issues.

It is also important to keep open lines of communication with your subscribers. Assure them that you’re taking safety seriously, alert them to any potential delays, explain your contingency plans, and, most importantly, thank them for their loyalty in these uncertain times.

Prepare to be Flexible

In such a volatile market, be ready for dramatic fluctuations in volume. Seek out flexible space and staffing to help scale operations quickly and optimize processes for receiving, picking and packing. If you use a 3PL, leverage their flexibility to accommodate peaks and valleys.

In the current economic downturn related to coronavirus, subscribers may want to pause or postpone subscriptions or change their frequency. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what’s required in order to do this and any related technology issues. If subscribers are unable to make changes to their subscription virtually, be prepared for increased customer service volume.

To encourage subscribers to maintain their subscriptions or gain new customers, consider tailoring your offerings to appeal to those working or staying at home. Could you offer different sizes, products or configurations? Adding or intensifying an ecommerce sales channel also could give you additional opportunities for revenue.

While the coronavirus situation is still unfolding, every proactive step you take now will help to smooth the path ahead for your subscription box business.

Nicole Lee is director of fulfillment for Saddle Creek Logistics Services

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