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August 24, 2022

3PLs Can Help Your Subscription Box Fulfillment


A lot of moving parts must successfully come together for a smooth subscription box fulfillment process. If you send out monthly products to subscribers, then you would benefit from increased transparency and clarity. 3PLs can help your business scale effectively as you grow or face unexpected disruptions.

What is a Subscription Box?

Do you ever feel like buying something but want to be surprised by the outcome? Many consumers face shopping fatigue. And the growing number of eCommerce options only leaves people feeling even more overwhelmed. 

The subscription box sales model makes it possible for customers to experience products as they are selected by the brand. From meals to gifts or clothing, subscription boxes can contain a wide range of products targeting specific consumer audiences. Some boxes announce their contents in advance, some are themed, and some are complete surprises every month.

With a subscription box, your company benefits from a steady stream of subscriber orders that can help increase sales volumes each month. Rather than wait for consumers to make a purchase, the subscription model locks them into a monthly purchase until they decide to cancel.

During COVID-19, the interest in subscription boxes continued to grow as many consumers were stuck at home and turned to online ordering. 

McKinsey reported subscription box sales hit $7.5 billion in 2018. This number skyrocketed to a reported $22.7 billion for subscription box sales in 2021.

Yet, subscription boxes require an orchestrated approach to keep everything going smoothly. With a 3PL providing better data insights, your company can make informed and proactive decisions every step of the way.

How Better Data Helps Your Box Subscription Fulfillment

Better data isn’t just bigger data — you need the information you collect to help you pinpoint actionable steps and clarify strategies. Data collection and management from a 3PL can help your subscription box business successfully grow with increased agility to navigate future challenges. 

Here are five key ways better data can help improve your subscription box process.

Manage Inventory Levels

Subscription boxes typically manage several products that are scheduled to go out as a group. Some subscription boxes even contain products with extremely short shelf lives. Other subscription boxes are somewhat customized based on the customer profile.

Whether you are sending out beauty supplies, fashion items, produce, alcoholic beverages, hobbyist supplies, or something else, you need to carefully track your inventory levels.

Too much of a product can leave you with leftover inventory, impacting profit margins and creating a storage issue for your business. But too few of a product can leave you with a stalled box shipment or inconsistent customer experience.

Better data insights can help with better product forecasting and inventory management. You can access real-time inventory tracking and warehouse status to support a more informed ordering process, leading to a smoother fulfillment process.

Maintain Warehouse Networks

If you have multiple warehouses involved in your process, wires can easily get crossed. Miscommunications can lead to slow turnaround times, missed shipments, inventory issues, and other fulfillment problems. Your storage needs may be in constant flux with a subscription box model. As products come in towards the end of the month to fill the next set of boxes, you may need to use additional storage space.

Better warehouse visibility helps manage your storage needs and streamline the shipping process. It’s crucial to keep track of product arrival, kitting, and fulfillment during every step of the process each month.

Clear insights can help you adjust and grow your warehouse network as needed. You might decide you need to work with a warehouse that offers inventory overflow storage during part of the month. You might need to manage a number of warehouses sending products and raw materials for your boxes. It’s important to use 3PL software that can provide fulfillment visibility and clarity to maintain your network.

Oversee Large Order Volumes

What happens if your company hits a massive boost in sales for the month? A 3PL can help you smoothly transition to a larger operation to manage a bigger sales volume. Insights can help you navigate what fulfillment levels are possible with your current suppliers and inventory.

Larger order volumes are especially challenging for subscription box sales management because of the many pieces going into each order. What if you have enough products, but not enough inserts, packaging, or boxes? Or, what if every supplier except two can provide enough products for a sudden boost in sales?

Without accurate data and insightful reporting, it’s easy to become disorganized when processing a lot of subscription boxes. You don’t want sales to spiral out of control and go past what you can handle in fulfillment, so use data to help set caps on your monthly box orders.

Enable Omnichannel Selling

If you are selling from multiple channels or locations, inventory oversight is crucial. Online selling has opened a world of possibilities for reaching beyond your local community. However, if you have a physical store and online shop, stockouts and inventory tracking can become an issue.

Robust data oversight makes it possible to sell from a variety of channels without risking miscommunications or inventory issues. You can use a 3PL data management system to ensure your eCommerce and store sales don’t interfere with the fulfillment of your subscription boxes.

Powerful reporting control and data transparency will help you thrive in every channel you use. Real-time information allows you to adjust instantly and avoid overselling across channels. You can also use in-depth data management software to trigger ordering alerts to avoid stockouts when available inventory hits a certain threshold.

Improve Customer Service

With the subscription sales model, you must build positive experiences each month to maintain your subscriber group. Communication is a key part of good customer service.

Unavoidable events may occur that hold up products, change box plans, or impact box timing. Rather than leave your customers sitting in the dark and wondering about their box, better data can help you provide faster updates during the fulfillment process.

As soon as you know about an issue that impacts your customers, you can provide a quick update.

Not only does better communication help build trust with your customers, but it also reduces the amount of time your customer support team spends answering related questions. You can lessen the burden of confused customers by keeping them in the loop and updating them on your plans to move forward. This enables your team to focus on fulfillment tasks rather than redundant customer questions about box status or contents.

Transform Subscription Box Fulfillment With Support From Materialogic

If your goals are to scale your subscription box service, we can help. Materialogic is a trusted logistics partner that helps support receiving, fulfillment, warehousing, reporting, and inventory management.

Get in touch with our team today, and let’s discuss how Materialogic provides the insights and visibility you need for a smoother subscription box fulfillment process.

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