Auto-delivery (otherwise known as automatic delivery or automatic shipping) is becoming increasingly popular with online retail stores that are looking to generate more money from individual customers. Not only do auto-delivery programs help to build a brand’s customer base, but because it streamlines shipping, auto-delivery makes businesses more effective — and more profitable.
Automatic delivery programs work by having customers sign up for pre-scheduled purchases and delivery. This helps them save time (and often money because sellers offer discounts for auto-delivery products) and, in turn, it helps businesses have more sustainable, predictable orders. By adding customization features to auto-shipping programs, businesses can create even more compelling offers, allowing customers to choose the frequency of deliveries and the quantity of the product being shipped.
Although it might sound difficult, setting up an auto-delivery program for your online products is actually fairly simple. Whichever platform you choose to use (we’ll go into more detail about the different options available today), the software will automatically create a new order, process the payment, and then send a notification to the customer. So, not only is automatic delivery convenient for your customers, but it’s convenient for you too.
8 Reasons to Offer Auto-Delivery
1. Recurring orders will increase your revenue.
Once you’ve gained the trust of your customers, recurring orders and auto-delivery ensures that they don’t get distracted and take their money elsewhere. Because auto-delivery is so convenient, most customers will stay with the program for months, if not longer, which means the lifetime value of each of your customers increases dramatically.
2. Automatic billing and delivery saves your customers’ time.
You know your customers are busy. That’s why you had to work so hard in the first place to get them to your site and then take a look at your products. By offering auto-delivery, you honor their time, helping them find a convenient way to get the products they need — and without even having to think about it.
3. Auto-delivery improves brand loyalty.
Each time an order gets placed, you create more loyalty for your brand. That’s why auto-delivery has the potential to take your business from your customer’s choice to their absolute favorite. And, when that happens, this loyalty is worth more than you might realize. Not only are your loyal customers your best customers, but they’re also one of your best forms of advertising, too.
4. Increase sales predictability with recurring orders.
Recurring orders are a lifesaver for a lot of companies because they allow them to generate much more accurate revenue numbers each month. Not only does this predictability create stability for your business, but it also makes your business more valuable if you ever decide to sell it.
5. Better manage your inventory with automatic delivery.
Just like recurring orders help you know how much money you’ll make each month, they also help you predict how much of a product you’ll need. This, again, allows companies to better plan their inventory purchases, making sure they’re not spending too much (or too little) in order to meet the demands of their consumers.
6. Stand out from the competition with automatic delivery offers.
Offering recurring orders not only makes you different from the competition, but it also makes you look more reliable. Online stores have to work hard to earn the trust of their visitors, and one way you can do that is to make recurring deliveries a prominent feature on your website.
7. Alleviate the stress of online shopping with automatic delivery.
While some of your customers enjoy shopping online, there’s a large percentage that really don’t like the searching and potential risk of giving out their information. Automatic delivery programs are perfect for these consumers because it alleviates the need to shop, as well as the risk of providing secure information.
8. Auto-delivery solves your customers’ problems for good.
Consumable items are often nags on to-do lists, showing up again and again and forcing consumers to return to the store over and over. Auto-delivery, however, solves this problem, making you the hero if you choose to offer it.
How to Actually Offer Auto-Delivery
There are several different ways to go about providing recurring order programs to your customers, depending on where you sell your products. Below are a few of the most popular options for auto-delivery subscriptions.
Amazon Subscribe & Save
Amazon members enjoy using the Subscribe & Save program because it’s convenient and typically offers some sort of discount on the products being purchased. With free shipping and scheduled deliveries, few recurring subscription programs are as popular as Amazon’s. As a seller on Amazon, you can see your Subscribe & Save products when you access your “Manage Products” page. Here, you can see your discounts and preferences so that you can be sure your recurring product offers are exactly what you want. And, since December 2019, all eligible Subscribe & Save products are automatically enrolled in the program, which means there’s nothing you have to do as a seller in order to enjoy the perks.
Using 3dcart’s Autoship Recurring Orders app, merchants can add recurring order functionality to their online store easily. Not only does the 3dcart Autoship app allow customers to select the preferred frequency for their orders when adding products, but they can also have multiple Autoship orders at the same time. Customers can simply use the My Account section to manage recurring orders online, change those orders’ frequency, cancel an order, update credit card information, and more.
Although PayPal doesn’t automatically ship products for you, it will create recurring payments, which can then trigger the product to be shipped. Setting up this feature in PayPal is simple — just access the “Tools” section and follow the directions from there.
Like PayPal, Square allows you to create recurring payments, but not recurring shipments. But, if you use Square to process orders already, this feature can make it easy to integrate recurring orders into your current offers.
Must-Have Features Your Auto-Delivery Program Should Include
While there are a lot of benefits to creating an auto-delivery program, implementing it needs to be done the right way in order for it to really work. If done improperly, auto-delivery programs can actually lose a business customers, rather than helping it gain them. In addition to making sure your auto-delivery program allows for flexible shipping dates, easy-to-update payment links, and the ability to pause or stop service altogether, you should also consider the following:
- Create educational content. In order for your auto-delivery program to really be effective, you need to spend time educating your consumers about the products and how your automatic shipment program actually works. Doing this helps to build trust so that your customers feel confident in enrolling in automatic payments.
- Give exclusive discounts. Almost all of the most effective recurring order programs offer a discount for products purchased through the subscription. This discount helps to create a tempting offer that helps consumers ultimately make the decision to sign up. Failing to create a discount will prevent wary customers from pulling the trigger on auto-shipping.
- Keep it simple. If you want customers to sign up for your automatic shipping offer, then you need to make signing up for it as simple as possible. If there are too many extra steps, or if they are taken to too many additional pages, the convenience of the program will no longer feel valid — and you might end up losing the sale altogether.
- Offer testimonials. In order to make customers feel comfortable signing up for a subscription, they need to know you are somebody they can trust. Testimonials are a great way to show your customers that you’ve earned the trust of other people, which will help them feel confident when checking out.
- Evaluate the program. When choosing which recurring payment platform you want to use, it’s important to evaluate the details to make sure you’re selecting a program that is not only looking after your customer, but your business as well. The best auto-delivery programs make sure that credit cards are still active before they are re-billed, giving you time to follow up with them for an update before the card is declined.
- Communicate regularly. Making an auto-delivery program work largely depends on how well you communicate with your customers. Nobody likes to see their credit card charged and not be sure what they’re being billed for. Stay in touch with your subscribed customers, reminding them about things like when they’ll be billed and when they’ll receive their products. And don’t forget to keep reminding them about the benefits of the products they’re receiving too!
- Allow for several opt-in points. It’s not a bad idea to create an automatic shipment program that allows for customers to sign up at multiple points. If they don’t initially take the offer on the product page, have another opt-in option during checkout. And, again, if that offer is declined, follow up via emails to remind them of the benefits of setting up recurring payments (like saving money on their next purchase).
While not every online store can create auto-delivery programs (high-end, one-time purchases obviously don’t make sense), those that do should take advantage of the benefits. Not only are recurring payments easy to set up, but they create convenience for your customers — and your business.