A Content Management System (CMS) is the backbone of rental e-commerce. To build a scalable rental business, a CMS is inevitable. But is it enough? Find out more about all the operational tasks a CMS cannot do when it comes to a rental/subscription business model.
E-commerce has its own CMS specialized in catering to its need for product cataloguing and selling online. Some of the most popular CMS for running an e-commerce website are Shopify, WooCommerce, Shopware and Magneto.
Read more about which CMS is best for you here: Best Content Management System for your rental business
Why does someone need them to sell a product online? Because they automate monotonous processes and help build a solid customer experience.
Picture this: After all your marketing efforts of creating awareness, targeting with Google display ads, retargeting with Facebook ads and creating a virtual experience online, your prospective lead lands on your website. (Hurray! Step 1: Success)
The lead browses your webshop, luckily finds the product they want, and adds it to the cart (Step 2 - bingo! One more step till Halleluyah)
Then comes the moment of truth, the moment we've all been waiting for. Does the lead move forward with the buying process?
YES! He does!
The lead has successfully transformed into a customer! A whole new marketing journey begins.
The customer gets an automatic email from the webshop that their purchase is being processed. Now someone in the backend just has to click a few buttons in the CMS, and the CMS takes care of the rest.
Now you can sit back and relax and think about converting the customer into a long-term paying customer through repeat purchases and increasing customer lifetime value.
It sounds like that's all that you need to sell something online.
Uh-uh, wait for a second; as we said, a CMS is excellent for SELLING online but not for RENTING a product for a subscription.
And the reason why that's the case is simple:
A CMS cant do that because it's not built for it.
If you are currently running a subscription business for a physical product, you probably know that some extra things follow this business model type. And these are the things a CMS cant do.
Maybe you offer a product for a subscription that doesn't have a high-profit margin attached to it, but you can counter that by cross-selling another product goes with the main product or by upselling the main product with additional features.
It's a great strategy to earn more revenue and offer more value to your customers.
After all the more value you provide, the more likely they are to stay with you for a longer duration of time (maybe even forever - your precious AKA Gollum style). A CMS, however, can't do so. It can only sell and can't do both on the same checkout page.
One might say, "it's okay if thoncustomer can't do that in the same checkout page. Maybe we can j suggest the customer to buy something extra, and he will just make a different checkout transaction with it."
You've got to be kidding right now!
Customers don't do that because the "add-to-cart and click buy phase" is a sacred place. It's that perfect moment created by the perfect alignment of all the planets in the universe.
Think of the perfect alignment of all the planets as your excellent marketing efforts. T
hen my over-the-top comparison will probably not sound so lame (fingers crossed)
Coming back to the topic, even though upselling and cross-selling are great opportunities:
A CMS can't upsell and cross sell because it is not built to do so.
With a subscription-based e-commerce business comes additional things that need to be taken into consideration.
Some subscription businesses have additional features that tweak the customer experience. For example, our customer StrollMe offers baby strollers as a subscription-based product to their customers.
To provide great value and build a rewarding customer experience, StrollMe offers its customers the possibility to select the starting subscription dates.
The logic behind doing that is simple - the customer probably needs the stroller a few months before the baby's birth.
Additional functionality is made possible not through a CMS but via a subscription management software.
The heart and soul, the bread and butter, the robin to the batman of a subscription-based business is the recurring monthly revenue associated with it.
A subscription-based business charges its customers monthly.
For that, a bill needs to be generated monthly and an invoice needs to be generated monthly.
On top of that, the invoice needs to be sent to the customer monthly as part of most state and country regulations.
Sometimes a payment reminder or deduction is also sent to the customer so as to avoid payment failures and ensure a smooth subscription run.
BTW did you know failed payments is one of the reasons for higher churn rate among customer?
The churn rate contributes to involuntary churn among customers. In the long run, a subscription business must work on ways to reduce its churn by making its offering and processes smoother.
As you might have guessed already, a CMS cannot handle recurring payments. As a result, some subscription companies send the invoices manually to their customers every month.
If you, as a subscription business are creating a roadmap to scaling your business, generating monthly invoices manually should not be a pitstop.
To scale your subscription business, you need a system in place that automates the process and takes off the burden from your shoulders so that you can concentrate on more important things.
Can a CMS generate recurring invoices? No it cannot!
What is the one thing every customer does after they make a purchase? They track their products and mentally ask their phones the question, "is it there yet".
While this is also true for customers of a subscription product, tracking in a subscription-based business happens in two ways.
The customers track the delivery status, and the subscription provider tracks the lifetime status of the product.
This essentially means that a subscription service provider needs to know at all times where the product is and which product is associated with which customer. For that, every product needs to have its own serial number besides the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), and that serial number needs to be stored in a place that can track it.
A CMS can't do the rental product tracking. A subscription management software can.
Let's take the case of StrollMe again.
Stroll offers baby strollers as a subscription service. They have multiple same strollers under one stroller category. They need to track each of the strollers separately for each customer.
In case one of the strollers is broken when returned, they are able to track which customer was responsible for it by simply logging in into the circuly backend and checking the customer information associated with the serial number of the stroller in question.
Lifetime product tracking is a must-have for a subscription-based product, and a CMS doesn't have the capability to do so.
How do you track which part of your product breaks again and again? How do you track when the product has been repaired and put back into inventory?
A CMS doesn't do that.
Having an overview of the history of the product is important because it allows you to make certain important decisions regarding the product.
If the same component of your product breaks over multiple products, it's time to talk to your manufacturer.
It is important to do that because customers in the 21st century are more likely to leave a bad review online than a good one. And if multiple customers are complaining about the same thing, then your business is in trouble.
So now that you know product history is important, how are you planning on doing that?
Notes in a diary?
A Google doc?
Maybe an excel sheet running in the background?
What!!! Wrong answer!!
A subscription management software lets you analyze and track all this information in one place automatically.
Getting an e-commerce product back from the customer often means trouble, but for a subscription business, that's the normal order of business.
Products in the subscription space are either bought out or returned at the end of the subscription.
Product return is a process in itself.
The process, of course, needs to be easier for the customer.
For that, a system needs to be in place where a customer can simply go online and click "end subscription" or "return product".
Do you recall how easy it is to cancel a Netflix or Spotify subscription? Well, a subscription for a physical product needs to be at the same level.
Can a CMS provide such a system? By now, you know the answer? Common everyone. Sing with me in a chorus! A CMS cant deal with digital product returns because it's not built for that.
When a product is returned and lands back in the warehouse, someone has to check the following:
Some companies keep an excel sheet in the background where they manually make input entries if the product has returned, and some don't even do that resulting in permanent out-of-stock situations.
Things break! There isn't much that you can do about that except repairing it and putting it back in stock.
To make sure everything runs smoothly, the repairing process can be automated with the help of subscription management software.
Moreover, it is important to see how much it costs to repair the product and make it rentable again. Any additional costs, of course, decrease the profit earned through margin and therefore need to be kept in account to make appropriate decision
So one last time, can a CMS deal with product repairs? No it can't because it's not built for that.
You need a CMS even though it is not enough!
CMS’s are made to curate products: something you also need for in a rental business. They also help you provide a great online customer experience, which in general contributes to a successful rental journey.
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