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At SQLI, we continuously work to be part of the Digital experience and eCommerce community, as we believe that constant contribution offers us the chance to explore new ideas and create engagement with our partners and our clients. Here, our Digital Marketing Executive shares some insights from this year’s eCommerce expo.

The future of eCommerce

One of the key takeaways from this year’s eCommerce expo was subscription models. According to a McKinsey report in 2013, the subscription model was generating around 1B dollars but by 2017 this was now measured at around 10B dollars, excluding Amazon Prime. With an annual growth rate of about 75% and major investments each year, it is having a huge impact on many industry sectors. However, it is successful in the luxury fashion and the food sectors?


There are 3 key elements for a successful subscription model in any sector:

  1. The necessity of having regular persistent purchasing in order to need the subscription
  2. Having convenient content curation. Meaning that ultimately the subscription model provides convenience with the goal to make customers’ lives easier.
  3. Have a high average order value to have higher customer lifecycle.


For any subscription models, it is all about the experience every month, personalization and the aspect of surprise and delight. All the above elements are to encounter customer subscription fatigue. In order not to have subscription or product fatigue, companies need to understand the customer lifecycle. Education of a customer in the subscription model is another vital element that companies must have.


But what happens when a big brand like Unilever acquires the best start-up subscription companies and how do they retain advocacy and their own culture? In most cases, these start-ups are used as an arm of a company. By that, they are not fully integrated into the big brands, they keep their brands and they will take away the lessons from the large brand whilst building their relationships with their loyal customers and understand them.

The role of trust in brand loyalty

Your current loyal customers should be your advocates and ambassadors. Native content from the subscribers is the best engagement tool despite the amount of time a company might invest in being creative. At this point, it should be considered that people are mindful of their wallets when it comes to subscription models. However, if there is a relationship of trust with the brand, they will be happy.

Should companies offer discounts when it comes to subscription models?

Subscription companies offer discounts and as always, this can be a risk. However, in most cases, it is a referral from an existing customer that minimizes that risk. Undoubtedly, there are always discount seekers and a company should be aware not to create this market. Content strategy is a must for subscription model companies and is a necessity that allows them to understand existing and potential customers.



It was highlighted that there is a huge difference between physical and service subscriptions. The reason behind this is that the psychical one, i.e. groceries, reflects a need, while the service one, i.e. a music platform, is about if the person wants it. Millennials and Gen Zers are both generations that are mobile connected and they prefer to subscribe to have their own convenience. However, as they are volatile and care about social issues, this leads companies to build certain values in order to have them a loyal customer.

Is it an emotional or rational decision to subscribe?

Both panellists at the debate agreed that the decision is based on the question of need vs want. People like to be surprised but it is all about functionality. A subscription model is the future of eCommerce; however, a successful company needs to understand their community well and find partners that are like-minded and do things that are exciting for people.

The value of UX in retail eCommerce

We are wired to be connected when it comes to shopping. UX is a feature that should not be underestimated as customers focus on design relationships. UX and design have some quantitative and some qualitative aspects. The quantitative ones are those that bring the real value such as the service design or the price tag, while qualitative ones that reflect the brand image and premium value.


The qualitative aspect will drive customer loyalty and it is the competitive advantage that cannot be copied by any company. The only way to create this loyalty is by creating and designing a unique customer experience. This customer experience should be complex and multi-dimensional. All in all, the design is a perfect tool to create those relationships while retail eCommerce evolves at a fast pace.


Alexandros Anastasiadis

Digital Marketing Executive at SQLI