Why D-to-C Subscription Services Need to Use Data to Meet Skyrocketing Demand: A Look at Blue Apron's Success
Consumer behavior trends that were once predictable are now in flux as we begin 2021, leaving retailers in need of tools and resources to help navigate these unexpected shifts in habits — e.g., who is buying, when and what they buy, and how much they will spend. With this in mind, retailers are looking to data as a solution now more than ever before to address and predict these changes.
One of those retailers is meal-prep subscription box, Blue Apron, which has successfully leveraged data to simultaneously increase customer satisfaction while also improving the experience of internal teams. In doing so, Blue Apron has positioned itself as an industry example to other direct-to-consumer (D-to-C) subscription retailers looking to do the same. Let’s take a look into how this company thought outside of its box and has been successfully using data to keep up with skyrocketing demand.
Identifying Specific Data Points to More Quickly Resolve Complaints
Blue Apron tracks, classifies and analyzes customer complaints to improve ongoing customer experience. In order to leverage this customer complaint data as a launching point for teams to take action on, Blue Apron created a designated Data Architecture team to develop models across the company’s data analytics platforms. This allows the team to pinpoint specific locations where trends in complaints appear, making it easier for them to go directly to sources, such as a shipping partner, to develop lasting solutions. Considering 91 percent of consumers noted that they would prefer an online self-service hub if it were available and tailored to their needs, it's also worth considering the development of this type of resource for consumers to reference once complaint trends are successfully identified from key data analysis.
Analyzing Reviews on Recipes to Better Determine Customer Demand
Data can be used to provide customer service agents, analysts and business teams new insights into any monitoring issues and also has the capability to help these teams predict customer demand. At Blue Apron, culinary experts team up with customer experience agents to look carefully at customer reviews on specific recipes, allowing the teams to see taste trends, spot popular ingredients and dishes, and propagate these learnings into supply chain changes for producers and partners.
Tracking Sales to Support an E-Commerce Platform
Subscription services are just one example of an area within the retail industry that has seen significant changes in recent months, posting a 250 percent increase in overall revenue since March 2020. Blue Apron offers an online store that also sells products such as aprons, olive oils, spreads and wine to enhance the in-home culinary experience. Prior to leveraging data, teams were using spreadsheets to track sales, making it nearly impossible to predict which items would perform best on the site. Now the team is able to make practical decisions by tracking sales to determine what items are proving most valuable for the business and what customers want to see more of.
Overall, data analytics has played a key role in informing businesses across industries on their customers’ expected demands, overall preferences and trending complaints. Specifically, D-to-C subscription services like Blue Apron that leverage data are finding success in not only enhancing their customers’ experiences, but are also able to benefit internally from streamlined processes. To keep up with customers’ evolving demands and to stay competitive in the market, D-to-C subscription services must consider utilizing their existing consumer data to anticipate their customers’ current and future preferences.
Colin Zima is head of Looker analytics and strategy at Google Cloud.