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Find out how Walmart, Amazon and a children's clothier use subscriptions to build loyalty and revenue

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 2:01pm | by Helen Hoart

Walmart just announced a new ecommerce subscription service. For $7 a month, a subscriber will get a box of sample foods.The new subscription service called is by invitation only right now and is just moving out of its test phase. (I've just signed up for an invite. When I get invited to subscribe I'll let you know what I think.)

Amazon has a slightly different wrinkle with its “subscribe and save” offer. For products people buy on a regular basis—coffee, tea, toilet paper—Amazon offers you the chance to “subscribe”, i.e. place a standing order to have the item delivered periodically (every month, two months, etc.).

While these two mega companies have taken different approaches, the basic concept is the same.  Get a someone to become a repeat customer by delivering some service on a regular basis. And a repeat customer equals a loyal customer and is good for the bottom line.

Walmart takes the concept a step has a social community online where subscribers can post reviews to earn loyalty points.These points can be redeemed in the future for boxes or items in the store. Another benefit: Walmart can do product testing through the reviews.

Amazon ensures loyalty in a different way through its Amazon prime program. A customer pays $79 a year to join Amazon prime but then they are entitled to free two-day shipping, a free Kindle book a month and free TV and movies through the Amazon prime channel.They hooked me. When I want to buy something online I usually go to Amazon where I find competitive prices, free shipping and great service.   

Subscriptions have been around forever. But the internet with its e-commerce capabilities has allowed businesses and organizations to expand and push subscription marketing in new directions.  

Here’s a another variation from children’s clothing seller Wittlebee.  At Wittlebee’s, you subscribe to get a box of specially selected clothing for your child based on preferences you give them. Their motto is: “Put your kid’s clothing on auto pilot.” The benefit? No more malls, no kid meltdowns while shopping and lower price than you pay for an equivalent articles of clothing at a store, the retailer says on its website. The subscription price is steep--$39.99 a month, but for busy moms it could be worth it.

All of these subscription programs depend on the retailer giving value and great service for the subscription. Without superior value and customer service it’s too easy to click and unsubscribe

We these three examples in mind what can you do with your business to ensure you’ll have repeat customers who are loyal to you?


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