Subscription eCommerce and Why We Need It to Fulfil THE DREAM
by Sorin Despot
Hold your horses!
This article is not meant to offer a comprehensive perspective on the subscription-based ecommerce model. It has been booming across digital sectors, showing a whopping growth rate of 100% from one year to the next, for the past five consecutive years, according to McKinsey. I will link to one more such extensive report that will inform you thoroughly on the current state of the subscription-based economy in Europe.
I am more interested in finding out how it all fits together, and whether the subscription-based business model or, more specifically, the subscription-based eCommerce model is just another fad or if it is here to stay. Moreover, is the subscription-based model going to take over the whole eCommerce sector?
For that, I say we look to the future if you can bear with me for a couple of minutes or so. What follows is not designed to get picked up by futurism aficionados, but the mental exercise might prove fruitful to the rest of us.
Let's Dream a Little!
It's the year 2095, and the world is more connected than ever. We are nearing the end of the 21st century, and every object created by the human species and its trusty old robots is connected to every other object through a decentralised digital communication network called the Internet of Things (IoT).
The whole world is truly online, indeed connected and synchronised, like a living, pulsating, global net of technological fungi.
We gather data from every single sensor available to us and massive quantum computing data centres receive, store, churn, chop, slice, and dice big data, under the careful watch of rock-star data scientists, until they spit out amazingly insightful reports and predictions.
The info and predictions are, in turn, fed into our autonomous, fully automated operations systems, thus optimising every single aspect of our daily lives, in real time, to the delight and amazement of ourselves and our kids, for whom the world will feel nothing short of magic.
No more heavy traffic, no more shortages or unnecessary consumption, no more guesswork-driven decision making in company boardrooms, and no more pollution, hopefully. No more nonsense, all in all.
But how will the life of a middle-class person look like? Let's make it... upper-middle class, for that extra pinch of wow factor.
It's 9 AM on a Saturday, and you're back from a five-day business trip.
The front doors neatly slide aside while the blinds slowly lift up, according to your AI-assessed mood. The house greets you in a warm, cheerful voice as the in-wall displays start listing the news, relevant notifications, possible leisurely activities, and the current household status. The temperature is just right.
You find out that the house has resupplied the fridge with your favourite drinks, eggs, milk, your favourite prime cut of Argentinian beef, and just the right amount of veggies, so you can cook, as you always do when you unwind from an extended business trip.
The bathroom is squeaky clean, adequately supplied, and your dollar-shave-club box is waiting for you on the marble sink top. It smells like spring in the countryside. You take a long bath and finish up shaving, as the smell of freshly-ground Chilean coffee insinuates into the bathroom.
It's your day off, and your home environment is designed to pamper you while, in the background, endless small adjustments are made in real time to accommodate any and every need or request you might have.
The cherry on top? Your state-of-the-art rose-wood smart closet pops a notification on the northern livingroom wall letting you know that your custom 3D-printed Harrods suit is 90% completed and ready for your final inspection.
All within arms reach, no possibility left unchecked, no unnecessary energy spent, and as little waste as possible. That is the dream.
How Is That Even Possible?
The simple answer? It is a mix of high-precision and high-performance hardware, the IoT, predictive analytics, (robotic process) automation, subscription-based eCommerce models, and flawless delivery services.
The smart devices, wearables, and software applications we use today already have the capacity to gather meaningful data about ourselves and the patterns that govern our day to day lives. It all boils down to mapping and using that data to optimise and improve our lives.
That is where AI or machine-learning algorithms will come into play, spewing out ever more precise predictions about our current and future needs. That is how the house knows what to order for you, that is how it knows what subscriptions to renew for you, and that is how it knows what will cheer you up after a tedious, tiring business trip.
Thus, Subscription eCommerce Will Flourish
Back to the present!
A recent ING study showed that the average European household spends €130 monthly on all subscriptions, which is a little more than 5% of the total household consumption. The European subscription-based economy size reaches about €350 billion, with tangible goods subscriptions accounting for €80 billion.
Unsurprisingly, as the report mentioned above shows, young Europeans report the highest subscription-based expenditures on tangible goods, and further growth is highly likely, in part because of the high-tech, high-paced society these young men and women are maturing in. Time, more than ever, is money.
As the digitised economy pushes companies to try new strategies to serve their customers, products and services that were never the subject of subscription-based models of eCommerce will increasingly be offered in this fashion as well.
Let's Wrap Up!
Subscription-based payment methods provide consumers with a certain level of predictability and ease of use previously unheard of. Whenever clients complete transactions for the same product/service, again and again, subscriptions are the suitable way to eliminate the time and effort required for the transaction and clients no longer encounter distress around payment due dates.
From media services and mystery boxes to groceries and toilet paper, there is a lot of stuff you will buy over and over, with predictable frequency.
The city and the house of the future are on their way, but there is one part of it that is already prepared for the future, ready to be plugged into the grand IoT scheme of tomorrow and smooth out everything for the customer of the year 2095.
FinTech, more specifically, the online payment industry - scratch that! - Twispay has the subscription-based payment model ready to go, offering unparalleled levels of flexibility and customisation. The question is: what will your customers require, again and again, next week, next month, for as long as they enjoy your products and services?
With 2095 in mind, are you ready to future-proof your business? :)