Subscription is becoming an increasingly popular online sales model in Poland. We, therefore, decided to take a look at this solution from a User Experience perspective, and since there is no UX without users, we decided to base this article on the research we conducted.

Start by researching user needs

The design of a digital product starts with getting to know users and researching their needs. There are many research methods, but choosing the right method depends on the objective you want to achieve. Research is extremely important. Without it, we may end up designing something that no one wants to use or our target user doesn’t understand the solution that was created. See how we approach this part of UX design.

How did we research the needs of subscription users?

When we embarked on the research, we wanted to find out what the needs and concerns of people using subscriptions were and what could be done to retain customers for as long as possible. Based on the insights gained, we have compiled a list of tips to help you achieve high levels of user satisfaction.

Perhaps even most Poles use some sort of subscription solution, the most popular being Netflix or Spotify, but even the purchase of regular electricity can be considered a subscription. We focused on the phenomenon of subscriptions in e-commerce which from the point of view of User Experience is not fully explored in Poland.

The aim of our study was to discover how to create an attractive and customized product based on the subscription model – how to make the experience of users using the subscription the best it can be, and thus ensure that their satisfaction translates into the company’s bottom line.

In order to find out the answers to these questions, we applied research using questionnaires and individual in-depth interviews and conducted an audit of selected subscription solutions available on the Polish market. Based on the knowledge gained, we have prepared tips and recommendations for all those who are wondering what to take into account when developing their own subscription product.

Choose the right product subscription model

Subscription is a business model of providing services or goods to customers on a recurring basis. However, the various subscription solutions differ, and we can distinguish between several main types of subscriptions.

Recurring subscriptions are based on cyclical deliveries of goods that are in regular demand and whose consumption can be determined over time, e.g. food, personal hygiene items, or household goods.

Selective subscription, on the other hand, is a service where the ordering party receives, for a fee, products selected by an expert in a given field. Access subscriptions offer access to content in exchange for a regularly paid fee and are unlikely to be used in e-commerce.

Which subscription model to choose, and what options to give customers in terms of order configuration or choice of delivery frequency, are closely linked to the specifics of our business and our customers.

Subscriptions are often chosen by people with limited free time, who are working or studying. Thanks to this solution, they do not have to remember about the purchase or spend time visiting stores, as the goods are delivered directly to the indicated address.

An additional benefit they enjoy is that they save money – many companies operating on a subscription model are able to provide a lower price than the standard price, and free delivery. The need to save time and money is best met by so-called recurring subscriptions. With more specialized products, the expertise of the professional plays a large role, so a selective subscription model may work well.

Example of a subscription – Wine me

Wine me offers a subscription that consists of sending two bottles of wine each month that match the customer’s chosen taste profile, but selected by experts. Choosing a good wine requires extensive expertise and is not a simple task. When subscribing, the user receives wines which are subjected to an appropriate selection process, and on the other hand are a kind of gift – a surprise for the user.

wine me website with the option to subscribe wine

Provide information on subscription terms and conditions in a clear manner.

Subscription is clearly gaining in popularity, but for many people, the rules may not be clear and models may differ. In such conditions, a clear explanation of what its benefits are and how the whole process works is crucial. This is best-done step by step, using graphics to illustrate the key steps in the process and highlighting the benefits of using this solution to the customer. It is also a good idea to address any doubts a customer may have in the form of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Example of a subscription – Hi Coffeedesk

Coffeedesk has clearly outlined the advantages of buying a coffee subscription. Each step of the process is described in the language of benefits, and in addition the graphics and messages are adapted in style to the main target group: young, educated people living mainly in large cities. An interesting trick is the use of the word ‘licence’ [abonament], which is more understandable to the average consumer than ‘subscription’.

here's how coffeedesk used the site to explain what a coffee subscription is

coffeedesk explains what it is like to subscribe to a productan excerpt from the coffeedesk website that explains what a coffee subscription isAdvantages of subscriptions over single purchases in e-commerce

Subscription, like any other service, operates in a competitive environment and to attract customers you need to offer them the right conditions. There are several proven ways to do this. The companies operating in the Polish market that we studied using the following incentives:

  • lower prices than for a single purchase,
  • products not available outside subscription,
  • free delivery,
  • gifts attached to the order,
  • elegant packaging,
  • selection by an industry expert,
  • the element of surprise that accompanies the receipt of gifts;

Which of the above you use depends on the specifics of your business and your capabilities. However, there is no doubt that it is worth thinking about what our customers care about and ensuring the right product-market fit.

Example of a subscription – Purebeauty

Purebeauty sells boxes containing at least six cosmetic and lifestyle products selected based on the questionnaire filled in the customer profile. The boxes are a kind of gift that subscribers receive every month, and the exact contents are a surprise to them. The package also includes materials describing the exact ingredients and effects of the cosmetics, and access to a community created by customers enables the exchange of information. Regular subscribers will find additional gifts in their packages and can count on free delivery and discounts at Purebeauty partners.

purebeauty not only explains what a subscription is all about, but what its advantages are

Give users control over their orders

A qualitative study showed that part of users’ concerns about purchasing a subscription is related to the flexibility of the solution. It is difficult for us to predict what the future will look like and whether the choices we make when signing up for a subscription: regarding quantity, composition and frequency of deliveries, payment method, etc. will be valid some time from now.

On top of this, there may be some unexpected situations that force us to cancel the service or we may simply want to suspend it at certain times. If we give users the opportunity to change the terms of their subscription and adapt it to their current needs, their level of satisfaction will increase and the chance that they will stay with us longer will also increase. Flexibility plays a particularly important role in the case of recurring subscriptions.

Example of a subscription – Your KAYA

Your KAYA is a popular provider of intimate hygiene products in a subscription model. One of the reasons for its market success is its flexible approach to customers. Having subscribed to the products, we can edit the content, frequency and form of delivery at any time. This is done from the customer’s account.

YourKaya website snippet describing product subscriptions

Customize your subscription

Delivering services in a subscription model requires a solid understanding of users, as the content, delivery time and delivery form of the package must be tailored to their expectations. Our research has shown that it is extremely difficult to adjust the quantity and frequency of deliveries so that nothing is left over and there is no shortage of goods on the other side. However, it will be much easier to get closer to the ideal if we examine the true needs of users.

The same is true of the product itself received by the customer, which is usually personalized to some degree in the subscription. In the case of coffee or wine, for example, it will be favorite flavor profiles, in the case of diet catering it will be specific nutritional needs, while the dog and cat lovers want food and accessories adapted to the age, weight, breed and preferences of their pets. Without the knowledge of users, it is difficult to deliver a properly configured product.

Example of a subscription – Abooku 

Knowledge about users can (and should) be drawn from a variety of sources.

Qualitative research, quantitative research and analytics come to the rescue. Feedback from users, e.g. via customer service, is an invaluable source of information. A simple and effective way to find out what users want can also be to ask them directly when they place an order. Abooku offers sets of books designed for children of specific ages. Your child’s interests and additional comments can be entered on the form and will then be taken into account when compiling the package.

An excerpt from the Abook website about the product subscription

Give the option to configure the subscription service

When subscribing, the user must select a number of parameters, including product type, quantity and frequency of delivery. Sometimes it can be difficult to choose individual options on your own. In such cases, configurators come to the rescue to make the process of defining subscription details clearer and more convenient.

The configurator is ideal for selling products in many different variants. The configuration process illustrated with graphics is easier to understand and less cumbersome, and prompts can be provided to help users with the right products for them.

Example of a subscription – Piesotto

Piesotto provides cooked meals tailored to the individual dog. In order to set the parameters of the service accordingly, the company has provided customers with an interesting configurator that runs a kind of narrative about the pet, supported by illustrations. Thanks to this form, gathering quite a lot of information about a pet is very efficient and even a kind of fun.

The piesotto website describes the rules for subscribing to products

Communication during the service and handling of complaints

The subscription period can be very long, but for this to happen, it is necessary to maintain a high level of user satisfaction throughout. Without an efficient system of contact and complaint handling, this is virtually impossible – the service is stretched over time and it is unlikely that no difficulties will arise in its course. The trick is to respond appropriately to problems raised by customers.

As our survey has shown, if their objections prove valid and we offer them a satisfactory solution, there is a good chance that they will not stop using our services. The most common problems with subscriptions are incomplete or late deliveries or faulty products.

Example of a subscription – Boxed diets

Delivering catering in the form of a so-called ‘boxed diet’ requires great organization and logistics, but because of the scale of the venture, even the best ones have slip-ups. In this case, customers need to be able to contact you quickly and compensate for shortcomings. Diet catering companies allow users to get in touch in a variety of ways. Research shows that in an emergency, customers prefer the phone, but the more choice a user has, the better – there are those who will use e-mail, a form, a chatbot or a dedicated smartphone application.

Fragment of the website of the manufacturer of the box diet

Design your product subscription with us

We discussed the most important aspects of planning a product subscription service. We helped Coffeedesk and Wine Club design the UX and UI of their product subscription pages. We can do the same for you. We would love to hear more about your idea. Get in touch with us.