business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

I love subscriptions.

I think I've made that clear over the years.  I'm a big customer for Amazon's Subscribe & Save program.  (Tom Furphy tells me that my 60 subscriptions almost certainly puts me among the top S&S customers.  I'm a little astounded by how high that number has gotten.)

To be clear, that number of subscriptions is not an indicator of conspicuous consumption in the Coupe household.  Go through the list, and it includes paper towels, toilet paper, Ziploc bags, Bayer low-dose aspirin, toothpaste, hand soap, detergent and shampoo.   In other words, all common, day-to-day items for which there is absolutely no advantage to shopping in a store. The prices are good, and I'm save a lot of time by not having to shop for them.  (Time during which I can walk the dog, read a book, or take a nap.  In other words, be productive.)

One item for which I do not have a subscription is olive oil.  I'm not sure why - it ends up (I checked this morning) that there are dozens of olive oils available via Subscribe & Save.  For some reason, it never occurred to me.

But here's the thing.  Amazon doesn't have to be the retailer that gets my olive oil business.

I only thought about this because I got an email from Strippagio, which makes a favorite olive oil of mine, telling me that I could save 10 percent with automatic monthly deliveries.  Here's the email:

I suspect that Strippagio may be treading a little close to a copyright line by actually using the term "Subscribe & Save," but other than that, I think this is a smart offer (and one that other direct-to-consumer brands have made).  It locks in shoppers and creates direct communication between brand and customer.  (Strippagio does not appear to be available on Amazon.)

That's what subscriptions and automatic replenishment models do.  They lock in customers and create a platform upon which additional sales can be made.  They also form the foundation of a database - which can grow as more items are added - that allows the retailer to create offers that make it more relevant and resonant to the shopper.

That's the Eye-Opening strategy that more retailers have to pursue, especially as they endeavor to be more competitive in an increasingly competitive marketplace.