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How subscription boxes can help retailers bounce back post-pandemic

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Retailing is one of the largest sectors of the UK economy, with 306,000 shops employing 2.9 million people and with a (pre-Covid-19) annual sales volume of £394 billion. However, there’s no doubt that last year brought significant challenges.

Whilst supermarkets were deemed essential and saw demand increase, many non-food retailers were forced to close at various points in order to comply with government guidelines and keep customers safe. For those without an online presence, this proved costly. Even the biggest household names felt the impact, with Primark going from making £650m in sales each month to nothing.

However, this time of hardship was also one of resilience. Many retailers adapted to the ongoing situation and refocused their efforts to meet new demands in consumer behaviour. As such, the entire industry witnessed a rise in the popularity of subscription boxes.

Despite restrictions easing, consumer buying behaviours and, therefore, the retail industry have changed forever. But a more resilient future is within our reach.

We sat down with John Phillips, General Manager, EMEA at Zuora, to discuss how and why subscription boxes have boomed in popularity over the last year…

Why do you think subscription models within retail are so popular?

Against our current backdrop of change and uncertainty, subscription-based models have emerged as a key for businesses across a range of different sectors to ensure a stable revenue stream and for consumers to get the products they want in a convenient, low-cost way.

From groceries and meal-planning boxes to coffee delivery services, the number of people signing up to subscription-based models is steadily increasing and COVID-19 has only highlighted their resilience. In fact, Zuora’s Subscription Impact Report – which took data from March – May last year – found that more than half of subscription businesses had not been impacted by the pandemic, while one quarter actually saw subscriber acquisition rates accelerate. Meanwhile, the latest edition of the Subscription Economy Index revealed that subscription companies continue to outperform their peers by wide margins. Last year alone, subscription revenues grew 11.6%, while the S&P 500 sales declined -1.6%.

There are several key players who are already reaping the rewards of this shift. For example, whilst many businesses have struggled to survive the pandemic, Gousto – the subscription-based recipe box provider – announced plans to create 1,000 new jobs as part of an expansion following a 115% spike in sales during the first half of 2020. Several other major retailers including Hotel Chocolat, Nespresso and Majestic Wine – have taken note of this success and now offer subscription boxes themselves. Morrisons, the UK’s fourth largest grocer, also recently joined the movement, launching a new weekly, fortnightly and monthly food box service.

Subscription-based models are proving to be a lifeline for many retailers battling the current period of uncertainty, with recent research revealing that 39% of UK shoppers have signed up for at least one. This demand is only likely to increase moving forward, with Zuora’s latest CPG Subscription Report finding that consumers who have a subscription already are 2x more likely to get another in the next 3 years.

How are changing consumer attitudes creating a more popular market for subscription boxes? 

During the peak of the pandemic, with supermarkets and shopping centres closing their doors and millions of households asked to stay at home, many consumers took to ordering products online. Signing up to subscription-based models became a way of ensuring that they were able to access the goods and services that they wanted and needed. From groceries and meal-planning boxes to coffee delivery services, the businesses already implementing subscription-based models saw an increased demand for what they had to offer.

Despite vaccinations and the government’s new timeline for recovery bringing hope, there is no doubt that the last year has shifted consumer buying behaviour permanently. Earlier this year, Zuora’s End of Ownership survey revealed the pandemic has accelerated a trend we’d already been witnessing; an increasing consumer preference for the use of subscription services over the ownership of physical products. In fact, 77% of U.K. adults have subscriptions services today. This is up from the 58% that had subscriptions 5 years ago.

While they are rising in popularity now, how can we make sure subscription boxes will be here to stay?

While signing up new subscribers will always be important, it costs much less to retain an existing customer than to acquire a new one. Therefore, the success of a business model which incorporates subscription boxes will ultimately rely upon reducing churn. Customers need to feel like they receive ongoing value, a significant shift away from the traditional single-transaction model. Their definition of value is much more than simply a price point. Whilst saving money is important, it will often not be enough to make them stay long term. Instead, the key to long-term success is to establish strong connections through unparalleled subscriber experience.

Today’s consumer wants to be put in the driving seat – therefore businesses who ensure both flexibility and convenience are likely to come out on top. For example, the ability to opt-out or even just temporarily suspend a service is seen as a really important factor. Moreover, the delivery mechanism for the subscription must be more convenient than traditional purchasing. It must take the pain out of tackling the high-street but still provide the experience at home for customers. There is a common thread that the most popular subscriptions will save time, deliver to the home or be something that the customer would struggle to get hold of under normal circumstances.

Customisation is also crucial when it comes to improving the customer experience.  Consumers have higher expectations for a subscription model than they do with a single purchase. Taking unique preferences into account is likely to enable businesses to build a better relationship with their customers, encouraging a longer commitment and lessening churn.

How will Apple Mail privacy updates affect your email marketing?

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By Fresh Relevance

June 2021 has seen a series of new privacy updates from Apple, including the announcement of their Mail Privacy Protection initiative. These measures are designed to protect the privacy of the end-user. The changes will help users prevent senders from knowing when they open an email, and mask their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.

These changes will affect users who use iMail as their email client and have opted-in to Mail Privacy Protection. Given the wording of the opt-in, industry experts are predicting a near 90% opt-in rate.

Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple said: “Every year, we push ourselves to develop new technology to help users take more control of their data and make informed decisions about whom they share it with.” And with growing consumer concerns over privacy and the so-called cookie apocalypse on the horizon, these updates perhaps come as no surprise.

Invisible Pixels and Live Content

Invisible Pixels allow marketers to know when their emails have been opened. With the Apple Mail privacy updates, invisible pixels will be banned, meaning marketers will no longer have this ability and what’s more, it will seem as though every email sent to an opted-in Apple device has been opened.

This means if your ESP or dynamic image provider charges you per impression, you may end up being significantly overcharged for phantom opens, as well as having implications for those who measure open-rates and send-time optimization.

The upcoming changes mean that most email content will no longer be loaded at open-time within Apple Mail, which will have implications for the use of live content in emails to recipients using Apple Mail who have opted-in to the privacy updates.

As such, it’s more important than ever to have a real understanding of your customer profiles to ensure your personalized content is as accurate as possible before send.

Want to learn more about how the Apple Mail privacy updates will affect you and how Fresh Relevance can help? Read the full article here.

SCA: Three things every merchant needs to know

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With online fraud on the increase, companies must take action to make sure they meet the updated version of the Payment Services Directive (PSD2) which will mandate Strong Customer Authentication (SCA).  The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced the deadline for implementing full SCA compliance for e-commerce transactions is now 14 March 2022.

The first PSD2 in 2007 levelled the playing field for payment institutions in the EU.  It increased competition and set out common payment standards and benefited customers and participators in the industry.  The revision in 2015 resulted in a more integrated and efficient payments market. SCA adds an extra level of protection for both merchants and their customers.

Why is SCA so important now? Here are three things every company/merchant should know:

  • SCA protects businesses and the customer from online fraud

SCA (or multi-factor authentication) assures the card issuer and acquirer that the transaction is genuine. If a customer pays online with SCA, but later claims it was fraudulent, the bank or card issuer accepts liability – previously the merchant had to refund the money and incur chargeback costs. 

  • SCA will become mandatory on 14 March 2022

The new deadline to meet the new PSD2 with SCA requirements is 14 March 2022, for all UK company transactions online (over £45 or 50 Euros).  The FCA will enforce the directive and repeat offenders of declined transactions may be fined for non-compliance, not to mention the possible reputational damage.

  • Working with the right Payment Services Provider helps achieve compliance

With some acquirers, secure checks are carried out separately from the transaction processing – which merchants must handle themselves. This is expensive to set up and requires resources and expertise to manage the mandatory technical and operational interfaces with third parties.

Working with an established payment services provider (PSP) like Encoded means the transaction process and administration is managed from start to finish.  The merchant captures the customer transaction and the PSP carries out all the secure checks required by the acquirer to verify the card with the card issuer behind the scenes. With checks authorised, the PSP issues a secure link that takes the customer through the online process to complete the transaction.

Choosing the right payment service provider early is an investment for the future. Now is the time to start thinking about how to protect your business from fraudulent transactions and comply with the new regulations.

Adam Bromage-Hughes is Technical Director at Encoded and to read the full article please visit

76% of shoppers say convenience is the key priority in choosing an online retailer

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But what does convenience mean to the consumer, and what does this mean for retailers building an online shopping experience?

Today’s ecommerce marketplace continues to grow at an astounding rate. This growth has resulted from an accelerated shift from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic — creating an ‘always-on’ experience for consumers. In the new, effortless economy, customers expect to shop when and how they want. Whether it’s searching on a marketplace, or discovering new products in their social feed, shoppers are increasingly influenced by convenience and a frictionless purchase journey.

Linnworks latest research whitepaper unpacks the five key customer experience trends that will drive your online selling strategy in 2021. From frictionless interactions at every touchpoint, to payment flexibility and shipping and returns policies on the customer’s terms, discover why convenience underpins the five key trends in ecommerce customer experience, and how optimizing these touchpoints will help you capture every selling opportunity in the new, effortless economy.

Every point of interaction is a chance to win over the consumer – and if a retailer gets it right, your customers will reward you with increased order values,  more frequent purchases and greater customer loyalty.

Get Linnworks’ latest online shopper research whitepaper. 

REPORT: Fixing failed deliveries, make faulty fulfilment a thing of the past

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In its latest report, loqate takes a deep dive to understand the true business cost of faulty fulfilment and discover the simple steps to help stamp out failed deliveries for good….

The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted a surge in consumers buying products and services online, accelerating a trend that was already well underway.

As a result, business is brisk across borders, with 54% of firms reporting an increase in international orders during the past 12 months.

But this boom in business has posed certain challenges for retailers – most notably, the issue of late or failed deliveries.

To get to the root of this all-too-common frustration, Loqate has surveyed 3,000 global online shoppers and 300 retail executives to bring you its latest report: Fixing Failed Deliveries.

The report reveals:

  • The financial impact of faulty fulfilment for retailers across the globe
  • The problems posed by disgruntled customers and the top five retail categories that are most likely to let them down
  • The top five frustrations customers face when buying online
  • Tips to help retailers deliver to customers first time, every time
  • 10 questions retailers should be asking when talking to a potential addressing provider

Download your copy of the report here.

Getting conversion right doesn’t stop at the buy button

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By Ed Whitehead, MD Europe, Signifyd

There is no great mystery behind the reasons conversion rate is the gold standard for measuring ecommerce success.

Conversion is where the money is. It’s the moment that the hard work of marketing, merchandising and customer acquisition pays off.

So, is it possible to be too focused on conversion rate? Well, yes. Or at least it’s possible to be too narrowly focused on conversion rate. Think about it? When is a conversion not a conversion?

There are fraudulent orders that result in chargebacks. There are returns that result not only in a lost sale, but additional cost for shipping, restocking or otherwise redistributing the product. There is friendly fraud, when the customer receives their order, but says they didn’t and gets a refund in addition.

All of these misfortunes befall an online seller after a customer clicks the buy button. And all of them can be better managed with a view of fraud management that is tailored for the new era of ecommerce.

First that new era: Few would dispute that the coronavirus pandemic has propelled ecommerce years into the future and that it’s never coming back to its 2019 status.

Global ecommerce sales rose 49% in 2020 over 2019, according to Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse data. In February, sales were still tracking 31% above their year-ago figures.

Consumers shifted to online shopping — and they liked it. Nearly 83% of UK consumers said they would be shopping differently post-COVID than they did before the pandemic, according to a Signifyd survey conducted by market researchers Upwave. In significant numbers they said they’d be doing more online shopping and more frequently availing themselves of click-and-collect.

These new realities call for a new way of looking at fraud management — a way that sees fraud management not as a defensive shield, but as a means of revenue optimization.

This new thinking starts with retailers examining the buying journeys they’ve created, so they can identify spots where they are unwittingly leaking revenue due to barriers they’ve placed in the way of customers.

In working with retailers, Signifyd has discovered that retailers are leaving as much as 10% of potential sales on the table due to revenue leakage. This loss occurs because of friction in the buying process — everything from poor user experience, overly conservative payment gateways, outdated fraud management and two-factor authentication.

And with new Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) enforcement coming to the UK in just a few months, it has never been more important to understand where the drop-off is happening.

The good news: Merchants can optimise their sales funnels. And while retailers aren’t oblivious to lost sales and damaged customer relationships, the issues often don’t get the attention they deserve.

Silos make it difficult to see where revenue is leaking

The lack of attention stems from the fact that it’s hard for any one team to see all the holes in the buying journey where revenue leaks. Teams often work in silos, relying on walled off data. By collaborating — marketing, payments, fraud management, customer support, operations and finance can build a more complete view.

Signifyd has developed a way to look at the revenue leakage problem that allows retailers to survey the entire buying journey and plug the leaks. Start with the way payment gateways operate, and rules governing transaction velocity and the like triggered by ecommerce platforms. Add the imperfection in some retailers’ fraud reviews. All of which leads to false declines.

Then, there are returned orders — which can easily reach 20% or higher — and chargeback claims to deal with. Before you know it, the initial set of customers that marketing acquired has shrunk by as much as 30% in some of the hardest hit verticals.

So, what do you do about revenue leakage?

What should retailers do to tighten up those journeys so they do not leak revenue?

The first step is to break down the internal, organizational barriers that prevent retailers’ customers from completing a sale. Data and communication silos have to go, so that all teams have a clear and unified vision of the buying funnel that encourages collaboration.

Next, merchants need to develop a revenue leakage dashboard that provides a comprehensive view of the buyer’s journey to help assess and plug holes. Retailers then need to establish a revenue-leakage benchmark. In short, merchants need to know where they stand in comparison to others in the same space. There is a whole industry of consultants whose expertise can be drawn on.

From there, retailers can identify the biggest leakage problems and go to work on those. The next part of that phase includes optimising that trouble spot; measuring improvements and testing effectiveness; then moving to the next problem and repeating the cycle again.

One likely suspect, where revenue normally leaks, is at the payment level. Significant progress can be made here and retailers should trust their fraud professionals to drive the relationship with payment gateways in their favour. Typically payment gateways try to dictate how risk management operations perform and so we advise that inhouse fraud experts strive to drive and control this relationship.

Fraud fear kills conversions

Beyond reviewing outside payment processors, retailers need to assess their own fraud tools and processes. Experts can, appropriately and easily, review and disable some rules and filters activated by payment gateways, ecommerce platforms and card processors to see what orders are not getting through systems. Also, retailers should strive to understand whether they are suffering from an unreasonably high percentage of declines from payment partners. Accessing benchmark data from the likes of Visa can help here.

Finally, merchants should evaluate the market for SCA solutions that will allow them to provide the best customer experience and minimise the number of step-ups caused by SCA.

Marrying modern fraud management with the right ecommerce platform, the right design and user-experience can stem revenue leakage and preserve lifetime customer value – giving retailers the confidence to serve more legitimate customers in the way they want to be served.

PSD2 is live – What are merchants experiencing?

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By Ekata

The revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) went into effect this past January 1st for many countries across Europe. The payments ecosystem has been hard at work for the past year setting up their compliance for the new regulation. Now that the time has come to see the interactions play out, we wanted to investigate the merchant experience in the first months of 2021.

For merchants generally transacting in real-world goods, the online channel was a small subset of their total revenue. Once Covid-19 hit and all the shopping behaviours of 2020 impacted their business, most merchants became digital-first by necessity. This also means that understanding digital risk, fraud and PSD2 has happened incredibly fast for most companies.


PSD2 Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) provides rich opportunities for everyone in the payments ecosystem to strategise and win long-term:

  • Issuers want to stay “front of wallet”. Thus, it’s in their best interest to focus specifically on the customer experience and reduce any friction experienced by the consumer that could lead to an abandoned transaction.
  • Acquirers/PSPs want to develop new fraud capabilities (real-time fraud checks, Transaction Risk Analysis (TRA) etc.) and differentiate against an increasingly commoditised space.
  • Merchants want to increase conversion and do so by building frictionless experiences that keep the consumer returning to make additional purchases.
  • Everyone wants increased authorisation rates because, ultimately, this key business signal is tied to the bottom line.


Ekata and Allyiz  (formerly STRATGranat) interviewed top global merchants on their experiences in the first months of 2021 to understand their strategy around PSD2, and learn how they are actively monitoring and assessing SCA performance to drive better customer experience and trust.

Of these merchants, 90% were truly global and 10% were spanning various European countries. In order to ensure good SCA knowledge, we focused on people in Payments roles.

You can access our full study here to understand what these global merchants are seeing in the market – the ultimate temperature check on all the effort undertaken by the various payments players in the ecosystem.

WEBINAR: Signifyd + Forrester | Creating a Winning SCA Strategy in 2021

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As the second phase of the payments services directive continues, the need for stronger customer authentication has serious implications for customer experience. However, the new regulation provides an opportunity for retailers to rethink their checkout process.

Join Signifyd’s Senior Product Manager of Payment Solutions Shagun Varshney and guest speaker, Forrester Analyst Jacob Morgan to explore the cost of compliance, new technologies, and potential negative customer impact. But with that also comes the opportunity to optimise payments for better conversion than ever before.

Register for Creating a Winning SCA Strategy in 2021 on 31st March 2021 at 10:30 am GMT where you’ll learn:

  • The current state of play for SCA in Europe
  • What eCommerce merchants can learn from their predecessors – the banks – through earlier implementations
  • How you can build an exemption strategy to protect your customers and your revenue now
  • Best-practice authentication strategies for the most seamless experiences in the long-term

Secure your seat and register here.

WEBINAR: The retail reset – Sign up now!

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By Summit

According to, there was a 21% increase in time spent on social media last year, with Facebook & Instagram expected to overtake Google’s share of UK digital ad spending.

To find out more about this trend, Summit recently conducted a Voice of the Customer survey looking at consumers and their social media and social commerce habits and we received some amazing insights…

Did you know that 45% of people often find new products through social media?

Did you know that 60% of users have purchased directly through social?

Did you know that social media users aren’t betrothed to one platform? In fact, on average they use 3.8 different platforms regularly, so you really need to diversify platforms to reach customers through social.

On Thursday 25th at 11am we are hosting the second webinar in The Retail Reset series, “Are you too socially distanced from your customers?” where we will be discussing these insights in much more detail.

Summit’s very own Carl Hutchinson, Marketing Services Product Owner and Darren Wright, Product Strategy Director, will be hosting the session and will be joined by guests Joel Williams from TikTok and Aynsley Peet from Cox & Cox.

If you don’t want to miss this session, please sign up here:

Resilience in Retail: How European businesses are adapting with payments

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By Nick Noyer, Head of EMEA Marketing, Stripe

Consumer spending has been moving online at a growing pace over the past 20 years. When COVID-19 hit, it further accelerated the ongoing trend, causing retailers and other businesses to evaluate and adapt to new consumer spending patterns. The most adaptive firms not only saw this as a challenge to survive, but an opportunity to flourish.

Stripe commissioned Forrester Consulting to research the payment technologies, strategies, and future capabilities firms are investing in to become more adaptive during the challenges of the pandemic and beyond. Forrester conducted an online survey of nearly 500 online retail leaders around the globe, with 221 respondents coming from Europe.

Here are three key findings of the study: 

  • Retailers plan to expand, rather than contract, their businesses during the pandemic. Instead of seeing the pandemic as a moment to retreat, the majority of retailers plan to expand their businesses in thenext 12 months by creating new revenue streams or increasing their global reach in an attempt to respond to evolving consumer behaviors.
  • Retailers face resource and expertise blockers as they pursue new business models andinternational expansion. Expanding into new markets and launching new business models requires significant domain expertise and often extensive internal resources. Meeting local requirements such as adding relevant payment methods and ensuring compliance creates massive overhead when handled in an ad hoc fashion. Additionally, as businesses grow and expand internationally, they can be exposed to new fraud
  • Businesses that invest in the right payments technology are able to quickly execute growthstrategies. Partnering with a tech-forward payments provider unlocks functionality beyond just payments. By arming retailers with powerful tools to manage fraud, more choice to offer consumers in how they pay, and the ability to make data-driven decisions, payments providers can enable businesses to expand into new global markets and layer new business models on top of their existing ones more quickly than their competitors.

To find out more about the respondents’ priorities and top initiatives, download the full Forrester Study Resilience In Retail: How European Businesses Are Adapting with Payments.

About Stripe:

Millions of businesses of all sizes — from startups to large enterprises — use Stripe’s software and APIs to accept payments, send payouts, and manage their businesses online.

Stripe provides payment solutions to some of the largest retailers in the world, including ASOS, Missguided, and Waitrose.

To find out more contact us at