How Replenishment Emails Drive Real Ecommerce Results

We all know how annoying it is to run out of a product and make a mad dash to the store for a replacement. It’s the worst! Which is exactly why replenishment email campaigns are so great.

Replenishment emails remind customers to stock up your product just before they are about to run out. Ideally, you provide a link to go straight to your website to complete the re-order in the nick of time. This kind of email marketing is commonly used by companies that sell consumable products like toothpaste, makeup, food, prescription medicine, or laundry detergent, but can also work for higher value items.

Replenishment emails really do work. According to industry research, they have an average open rate of 50-60% and an average click rate of 40-50%. They also have the highest click-to-open rate of any type of lifecycle email.

But even more importantly, replenishment emails are helpful to your repeat customers — something every great B2C brand should aim for. Here’s how you should craft replenishment emails that work to drive up the ROI of your marketing campaign.

Choose your timing wisely

It’s a known fact that it’s cheaper to retain existing customers than it is to constantly chase new ones. Replenishment emails are an effective way to ensure you get that all-important second purchase, but only if you get the timing right.

In order to decide when exactly to trigger a replenishment email, you need to understand:

    1. Your customers’ typical purchase behavior
    2. The time it takes to finish using your products on average
  1. The most effective marketing messages by channel

For an effective strategy, you have to delve into your data first. It’s not an exact science, but calculate the average time between purchases of a particular product and use that as a guideline.

To do this, you need a single view of your customers first. Then, do a historical analysis of purchase habits by product and category. Then, when you start measuring the results of each replenishment campaigns, you can tweak the trigger based on success rates. You can also directly ask your customers post-purchase when they run out of your product and when they’d like to receive a replacement product. But you need to send these emails at least a few days before customers run out to be truly convenient.

As you might guess, Amazon has this down to a science. Their Subscribe and Save Service skips the process of even sending emails and lets buyers automatically order replenishments of certain products. They also send out reminder emails before each delivery allowing you to cancel or skip the purchase. All you have to do is select the number of products and when you’d like to receive them.

Make smart recommendations

Replenishment emails ideally make it easier and faster for customers to reorder products from you instead of a competitor. But that’s not all they can do. You can also use the data from previous purchases to personalize replenishment emails and improve the customer experience. For example, you can provide smart recommendations to cross and up-sell products to your existing customers.

If a customer bought foundation before, you can recommend a new type of foundation you’ve started selling since they last shopped with you. Or you can cross-sell powder or concealer in the same exact color. If you no longer stock that product, you can provide information on commonly purchased alternatives.

Lancome employs this strategy, as well as sending out information in these emails on its auto-replenishment service.

Make a convincing argument

Replenishment emails are not limited to the CPG space. Take running shoes as an example. Seasoned, regular runners know that their sneakers have a limited lifespan. Using data you collected directly from your customers, you can send out a replenishment email when your customers are nearing the end of the existing sneakers’ lifespan and need to buy new ones. You can also try to up-sell similar products or cross-sell related products, such as specialty running socks.

Even more importantly, you should send out additional information about why new customers should reorder the item. If a customer is reordering running shoes, you can share why it’s so important for your health to get new running shoes after a set amount of miles or months. You can also include customer reviews to tempt customers into purchasing related products.

The Wod Life online fitness and supplement store not only makes it very easy to reorder products, but it also adds a rating and review to each product and allows you to add each product to your basket directly.

Warning: Avoid sending discount coupons in the first replenishment email, as it can devalue your product. Instead, if they don’t respond, you can follow up with a triggered campaign that eventually ends up in you offering a discount as a last resort. 

Focus on repeat purchases

If you’re just getting started with replenishment emails and you sell multiple products, focus on one thing at a time. Hone in on the products in your catalog that buyers most commonly purchase again and again. Use those to test the success rate for your email campaigns.

Learn more about Repeat Purchase Rate

Tea Forte, a gourmet tea company, analyzes shopping habits to identify frequently or repeat purchased items. The company then runs replenishment campaigns on its loose tea as it has found that it’s used every day in large quantities, and is often bought in bulk.

The Tea Forte team realized that the opportunity for generating recurring revenue from replenishment emails is huge, but it has to be focused on products that customers want to repeat buy specifically. They’re not buying custom gift boxes of tea on repeat, for example. But by focusing on the right product lines, the brand is seeing serious returns.

In order to be effective, replenishment emails must make customers’ lives easier by providing a simple, quick way to order products they use on a regular basis. Done right, they can provide a fantastic customer experience. If you want to succeed with your brand, be genuinely useful to your customers with your replenishment emails.

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