Subscription services are as old as the hills. Forever we have been able to order our favourite monthly magazine delivered to the door. We used to subscribe to milkmen and newspaper deliveries but they are no longer in fashion. However, there is a new breed of subscription services and they are roaring away.
You can order your razors from the Dollar Shave Club or your undies from Trunk Club. You can be treated to surprise snacks twice a week from Graze. You can get music on demand or audiobooks every month by subscribing to Spotify or Audible. Fresh flowers, fresh vegetables, you name it, they can all be bought through subscription services nowadays.
What does this mean for business to business marketing? Well, in one way there is nothing new here. Buyers and suppliers sit down regularly and work out what they need each month and set up contracts for delivery. This is not what we have in mind as this is sure to stay as it has always been. What we have our eye on is the new range of services that are being offered to businesses.
Nespresso have been quick off the mark and sells capsules of coffee to businesses each month. Hewlett Packard have their HP Instant Ink service. The plan charges a fee based on the number of pages printed each month. The printer sends ink level information to HP, and when the printer runs low on ink, replacement ink cartridges are shipped so there is no need to purchase replacement ink cartridges from retail stores. There must be a bunch of other opportunities driven by the Internet Of Things. It won’t be long before every product and consumable has a chip in it telling us when the truck tyres need replacing, when we need to order more paper and envelopes, indeed, when the pothole in the road needs fixing. Deals will be done with trustworthy suppliers who will, without us requesting, pick up data from the sensors and sort out our requirements for a subscription fee. It is time to put our thinking caps on. B2B subscription services are out there waiting to be invented.