What Subscription Businesses Can Learn From a Busy London Pub

SubscriptionTrends-Green.pngLast December, a pub in central London did something unique to help improve its customers’ experience. Bars and pubs in London can be crowded, especially during the holidays. They’re so crowded, in fact, that customers wait an average of 12 minutes per drink order at the bar. Depending on how many trips a patron takes, this can take a big bite out of their time for merriment and socializing with friends. Indeed, this lengthy wait time was a huge annoyance and the pub knew it.

So, this pub—Henry’s Café Bar—installed a system that lets patrons pour their own pint of beer and pay for it with their smartphone or other contactless card using a touch-pad at the base of the beer tap.

And thus was introduced the world’s first self-service, contactless-payment beer tap! Frictionless commerce at its finest.

The concept behind frictionless commerce is tried and true: make it easier for your customers to shop, pay, and receive their purchases, and you’ll gain more customers and sell more of whatever it is you offer. What’s more, your customers will likely be happier because you improved their experience by taking away obstacles and annoyances, and streamlining the whole process.

So, how does a subscription business go about reducing friction for its customers? What is the subscription commerce version of WD-40 that will make everything function so much more effortlessly? Well, it’s things like….

Offering a “cardless” free trial experience. A trial subscription is a great way for your customers to “sample” your subscription service before they commit to it. Some businesses choose to collect payment information for the trial, even if it’s free, and there are good reasons to do this. Other merchants may opt not to collect this information, creating one less barrier to the customer signing up for the trial. The key is to decide which option will likely produce the best results for your business. In general, the more subscribers who sign up for a free trial, the more new customers you’re likely to gain, so reducing friction here by not requiring a payment method should lead to increased revenue.

Flexible checkout. Do you sell one-time items in addition to your subscription plans? If so, make sure that your customer is able to purchase both at the same time, via a single transaction. If you can’t support this—if the customer has to go through the purchase process twice to buy these two different items—they may end up abandoning one or both of the transactions altogether.

Supporting preferred payment methods. When your customers are ready to pay, make the process easy by offering them lots of different ways to pay, ones that are widely used by your customer segment. For example, credit cards are popular in the US, but debit cards are more common in Europe. PayPal is another popular option. And in many technologically advanced communities, mobile wallets (such as Apple Pay) are increasingly popular.

PayPal, Apple Pay, and Amazon Pay also allow for one-click or one-touch payment which provides added convenience since your customer doesn’t have to input their credit card number and other payment details in order to complete the purchase.

Mobile options. Speaking of mobile wallets, make sure that your website is optimized for mobile browsing and purchasing. Consumers are increasingly on-the-go and on their phones. Make your business accessible to them where they are. This means making sure that your site is optimized for visitors who are accessing it on their mobile phone and ensuring that completing purchases via mobile is easy and straightforward.

A few simple enhancements will optimize your checkout flow for mobile devices and increase your conversion. Styling the checkout flow (for example, by using Recurly JS) to match your site is a great start. Keep going and enhance the experience by enabling error messaging to give the user instant feedback on the data they are inputting. It’s also helpful to denote required fields, provide the correct native keyboard for the device such as the numeric keyboard for zip code, and enable autofills within browsers for contact information.

These are a few ways to make your mobile checkout experience as seamless as possible for your customers. Recurly has additional enhancements to Recurly JS that will further enable the mobile checkout experience. Stay tuned for more on that soon! 

Whether you’re a pub in London that wants to sell more beer or a subscription business that wants to gain more subscribers, providing customers with an experience that’s hassle-free and which responds to their needs for expedience and convenience is a winning strategy.


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