For several years now, the business model for online stores has been pretty similar, based on the concept of a one-off purchase. It's all about getting that one conversion – getting a brand-new customer to visit, get to know you and your brand, and then make that purchase. More often than not, that first sale is also the last one: The customer had a specific need, you fulfilled it, end of story.
To get that one sale, you needed to put in a lot of effort on finding the right brands and products to sell, writing good promotional copy, promoting via social channels and the myriad other actions that combine into creating a successful store. What if you could leverage all of that effort into a continuous revenue stream from that customer? Something that didn't end after just one transaction, but kept recurring, generating revenue and building a real relationship with that customer.
Introducing The Autoship Program
Autoshipping is a feature that allows the customer to set up recurring shipments of items. Of course, some items really are a one-off deal: Nobody is going to want a new 50" HDTV shipped to their doorstep every week. But there is a whole class of items, consumable goods, for which recurring shipments are the perfect solutions.
Think about it: What if you never had to worry about a toner cartridge for your printer ever again? Every few months, a new toner cartridge would just show up at your doorstep, all ready to use. And how about printer paper, or many other office supplies such as pens or even sticky notes?
All of these items are not within the traditional realm of the online marketer. After all, who would go through the trouble of searching, browsing, and shopping online only to buy two or three packs of sticky notes? But the moment autoshipping comes into the picture, everything changes. Suddenly, these purchases make perfect sense. You're not just buying (or selling) pens. You are "solving the pen problem". Once a person signs up for autoshipping with you, they will never have to worry about that product ever again. For them, it's a problem solved. For you, it's a steady revenue stream that you don't have to think about. Automation at its best.
Not Just For Office Supplies
Office supplies are just one class of consumable goods. How about personal hygiene products? Take HoseAnna.com for example: This is an entire website built around autoshipping women's legwear, health and beauty products. A customer can sign up once, and get a regular monthly refill for their goods without ever having to think of it again.
The same goes for men, too: Websites such as Jockey.com have an autoship plan where discerning male customers can sign up for routine shipments of basic underwear.
A Way to Be Different
In today's highly competitive eCommerce marketplace, being different is more important than ever. That sounds very trite, but it's also very true: To be noticed, you need a good story, an interesting angle, a unique value proposition. Otherwise, what makes you different from the next guy? Why would someone shop with you and not with one of the millions of other sellers available online?
Autoshipping is not the only answer to this question, but it is certainly one answer. With autoshipping, you get to kill two birds with one stone: Get a steady revenue stream and tell a unique story in a growing niche.
Cater To Consumers Who Don't Want To Consume
Autoshipping allows you to sell to a new and exciting group of customers: Those who don't like to shop. For these people, shopping (online or offline) is more of a chore than a joy. They just want to get what they need, and move on with life. Autoshipping offers you a unique chance to capture those customers and turn them into your best asset: Rather than trying to make them into enthused shoppers, just help them get what they need with maximum efficiency, over and over again.
Try It Out
So, this is the "why" of autoshipping. If you're now curious about the "how", rest assured that with 3dcart, it is simpler than ever before. Check out our recurring orders app to find out more.