Many businesses are struggling during the state-mandated shelter in place orders. One industry that is weathering the storm well is technology. Technology companies often deliver services digitally, which obviously makes them ideal to side-step these orders--but they often utilize another feature that makes them profitable now and in general: subscriptions.
Scott Galloway, a business leader and host of an online business class called The Sprint, recently brought to my attention the importance of subscriptions and prompted me to assess it for my industry of web design. In Scott’s pocket strategy guide, he highlights recurring revenue bundles, ‘rundles,’ which are subscriptions offering multiple benefits. Web designers often offer various piecemeal upgrades to their clients. There are many decisions for business owners to make regarding these. Is the feature needed? Is the quality right? Is this the right web designer to make the upgrade? The more factors a business considers, the exponentially more complicated the decision becomes and the longer it takes to make it. During Covid, businesses don't have time to spare--they need to make updates to their websites ASAP to compete with Amazon. While most businesses are furloughing employees, Amazon is soaking up all the online orders and hiring 100k.
What web designers face in selling their services is similar to what retailers face in selling physical goods. Historically, shoppers buy an item, then decide to buy another item, and in doing so begin the buying process all over from the start. With each purchase, the shopper’s process entails considering all the product variables including prices, quality, and delivery time. This is inefficient.
With subscription pricing, businesses help the shopper glide past many of these steps. The shopper doesn't need to consider whether it will buy product X, Y, or Z from stores A, B, or C. It's getting whatever store A has, at presumably some discounted rate and in some expedited timeframe. And store A, knowing the customer’s profile (age, geographic region, etc.) and purchase history has likely picked out product X for him or her. What previously entailed many decisions may be reduced to just one or even none. In other words: subscriptions remove friction. They allow the shopper to go from stopping at every intersection on 5th Avenue to having it be: all green lights.
Which brings us back to website design: what if retail businesses had access to a website service where a store didn't need to make any decisions--its website just got 'better'? For a set price each month, its site would get features it wanted--and didn't know that it wanted. It would be akin to Netflix--you get access to movies you want as well to ones you didn't know about (...admit it, you love the sleeper hit 'Tiger King'). I've created such a service and hundreds of stores use it: it's called Bridge. We add hundreds of news features and tweaks each month. Store owners don't have to 'pick up and inspect' each feature and consider whether they want it. We give them the features as part of their subscription. For this reason, our Main Street, indie Bridge retailers often out-rank large, multi-million dollar retailers in Google.
Ask yourself: what can your store offer via subscription? Subscriptions help your business and customers skip lots of steps and concentrate more time on the service and goods. Imagine ways to replace the ‘stop signs’ with ‘green lights.‘
PS - Imagine if Netflix asked you to decide on each movie / pay for each movie, or you had to decide to pay each month for Netflix? There was such a service: Blockbuster. Netflix doesn’t even let you rent one movie and skip the monthly subscription—because a subscription delivering 80 cents on the dollar is more valuable than making a random, full-price sale for $1. You'll get $9.60 per year from a subscribing customer verse a few individual sales that may total $4. $9.60 > $4. Let’s avoid Blockbuster’s fate.
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