The explosion in eCommerce has revolutionised purchasing habits and transformed the way that services are consumed. While just a few years ago, products and services were bought on a standalone basis, the proliferation of web channels and development of converged devices means that today’s purchases are more likely to be transacted online and provided as a subscription service.
This is a trend that is only going to continue growing over the next year with the evolution of SaaS-based services, such as FreshBooks, that provide a pay-as-you-go service in order to reduce overhead costs and increase agility.
This demand for more flexible services is partly being driven by the rise of digital natives that have grown up with an inherent understanding of technology and demand a personalised approach. Today’s customers don’t expect to be explicitly charged for each service, instead they want to build customised packages that provide a bespoke combination of solutions specifically designed to meet their business needs.
In addition, consumers don’t want to be locked-in to old technologies; they want to be able to upgrade products as soon as new versions become available.
However, not all businesses have started to respond to this latest change. As a result, those companies that operate in customer facing environments, such as telecoms or marketing, need to start rethinking their approach to the way they offer services.
In order to maximise the opportunities afforded by the new subscription economy, businesses should look to take advantage of new cloud-based solutions that are rapid to deploy and easy to change, allowing companies to improve back office processes and facilitate a flexible ordering process.
Businesses also need to re-think how they are structuring their back office systems to unify the customer experience across all channels. The growing demand for flexible services that are delivered across multiple channels means companies need to be able to generate a single view of the customer.
To do this, businesses need to introduce systems that remove the silos that exist within organisations to establish where a customer is in the buying lifecycle, their previous interactions with the brand and past purchasing history.
Using this information companies can then ensure that different parts of the company, for example sales and marketing, are collaborating so that customers are targeted with offers and services that match their needs and keep users engaged in a long-term buying lifecycle with the brand.
Moving forward, businesses need to respond to the new paradigm that is occurring by moving away from the traditional product-centric view and adopting a more customer-centric stance. Those companies that worry less about how many units of a product they ship and focus more on securing an ongoing relationship with a customer, will be more successful in the long-run and generate ongoing revenue from satisfied customers.