What is subscription fulfillment?

    Last updated: April 4, 2023

    Imagine: It’s time to sit down and manually send this month’s invoices to each of your subscribers.  

    When your organization was just getting started, this was a simple process. Just a matter of double checking each subscriber’s address and name before mailing the invoices.  

    But your organization’s grown and with that has come complications to your subscription fulfillment process. You’ve started offering time-bound subscription discounts and subscription bundles, so now you need to verify each person’s price before creating their invoice. You’ve added a few extra publications to your brand, increasing the volume of issues and subscribers you need  to manage.  

    Master subscription models: 9 Proven tactics to skyrocket retention & revenue:

    To ensure you meet your revenue goals, you also need to remind your subscribers to update their credit cards, recollect their failed payments, etc.. And you need to repeat this across thousands of subscribers — or even for multiple publications.   

    That’s a lot of moving parts. And that makes it easier to make simple yet costly mistakes, like accidentally overcharging someone for an issue or sending the wrong issues in a bundle. Besides upsetting your subscribers, this also creates headaches for your accounting and subscription management teams.  

    By automating your subscription fulfillment process, you can ensure that all of your issues reach the right customers at the right time — and collect payments without a hitch. Learn about the benefits of subscription fulfillment platforms – and how to find the best one for your needs — below:  

    What is subscription fulfillment?

    Subscription fulfillment is the process of shipping products from a publisher or ecommerce merchant to a customer on a regular, predetermined basis. The goal is to give each subscriber the promised publication, in the right place, at the right time, then seamlessly collect and manage their payments within one central database.  

    When should you outsource your subscription process? What are the benefits of outsourcing fulfillment?

    As your media brand scales to multiple publications and thousands of customers, it gets more and more time-consuming to manage fulfillment and billing manually.  

    But handling too many orders in-house isn’t just a time suck — it increases the risk that you’ll make unforced errors, like over- or undercharging for a subscription, missing an order, losing customer data, etc.  

    Outsourcing subscription fulfillment can help you scale your publishing business without suffering those growing pains. The most important benefits of subscription fulfillment platforms include:  

    • Save time and money spent on shipping, handling payments and troubleshooting
    • Ship orders more quickly and successfully  
    • Avoid service errors and minimize customer support requests  
    • Reduce churn with payment failure and renewal reminder notifications 
    • Improve customer insights through more accurate, extensive reporting  
    • Manage multiple price points and products automatically  
    • Scale your operation and amplify your reach as a publisher  

    Top considerations for choosing a subscription fulfillment provider

    Keep these questions in mind as you search for subscription fulfillment providers:  

    • Does the platform handle print and digital fulfillment? Look for a platform that can accommodate different kinds of publications and scale up or down based on your needs.
    • How well can the platform handle different price points and product bundles? During the holidays, media companies take steep discounts on their annual subscriptions or tack extra add-ons to their subscription bundles. But subscribers that sign up mid-year might pay twice as much for the same product. Managing different customers under different price points can be needlessly complicated and cause unnecessary mistakes.

      Look for a provider with fully customizable price structures, so auto-renewals can be processed against a wide variety of campaigns and price points within any given product. For maximum convenience, they should offer fully automated run-time scheduling and the ability to run multiple auto-renewal terms. (They should also have built-in automated payment reminder emails, so you can prevent involuntary churn and save time spent recovering payments.)

    • Does the platform automate Dunning management to reduce fail rates and churn? Subscription businesses rely on timely, predictable inflows of revenue to succeed. But manually reaching out to each customer to update their credit card information each month adds unnecessary friction to the customer experience.

      So you need a subscription platform that can automatically manage and resolve interruptions to the payment process, like payment failures and credit card expirations.  

    • Can the platform manage multiple currencies? Look for tools that can accommodate both foreign and domestic currencies.

    • What reporting options does the platform provide? Subscription data can inform the rest of your marketing campaigns and your content strategy. Look for subscription fulfillment platforms with extensive reporting features.

      Omeda reports shed light on your audience as well as your overall subscription strategy: These include operating and audit-compatible circulation reports, demographic reports on audiences, paid reports (including Financial, Accounting and Paid Marketing reports) and data tracking reports. These can be run on your complete database or specific subsets, facilitating more precise segmentation and activation of your subscriber data.  

    • Does it connect with the other systems you’re using? If your ultimate goal is driving revenue through subscriptions, getting issues out the door is only the first step. The best publishers are the ones that can harness subscriber data to drive additional revenue, promote related publications, create more actionable marketing segments, etc. Choosing a subscription fulfillment platform that connects to a customer data platform, email platform, etc., makes this process much easier.

      Omeda’s subscription fulfillment platform is part of a broader end-to-end audience management platform with native email, marketing automation and customer data platform functionalities. This way, publishers can use subscriber data to create more targeted customer journeys and drive more revenue.    

    • Does the platform perform customer service processes? Subscription platforms automate many processes related to subscription billing and fulfillment, but some customer requests may need to be performed manually. If you don’t have the bandwidth to handle customer service requests internally, look for a subscription platform with a dedicated customer service team.  

      With more than 30 years’ experience in audited, controlled and paid title subscriptions, Omeda is an industry leader in subscription fulfillment, from magazines and newsletters to website access, single-copy sales, site licenses and more. Our subscription management service is connected to an end-to-end audience management platform, empowering publishers to harness subscriber data to better connect with their customers. Want to see it for yourself? Schedule a demo today 

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