Product-as-a-Service & subscription ideas to get you going!

Getting started with subscriptions just takes a bit of creativity. It’s all about finding the right balance between convenience and providing additional value to your customers. Just shipping a product on a monthly basis is not gonna cut it. In this blog, we'll provide some inspiration!
Simon Rombouts
November 12, 2020

Getting started with subscriptions just takes a bit of creativity. It’s all about finding the right balance between convenience and providing additional value to your customers. Just shipping a product on a monthly basis is not gonna cut it.

We sat down to brainstorm a few playful ideas that can get you started. We emphasize the strengths of recurring commerce, and we hope to provide inspiration for any future entrepreneurs out there. Feel free to copy and take these ideas for your business. We’d love to hear if you plan to launch this… So let’s dive in!

Subscription to baby goods (replenishables)

Often soon-to-be or new parents have a lot on their mind, they need all sorts of stuff for their baby. They are over the moon, busy with their new-born and quite often don’t know where to start. What do they need to buy? Diapers, baby-shampoo, baby-powder, cleaning kits, wipes, powdered milk, baby food related items and the list goes on and on. This can be quite overwhelming for any new parent. Wouldn’t it be easy if you can just subscribe to an all encompassing baby-box with all these replenishables in there; getting refills well in advance so parents don’t run out of stock and can truly celebrate and enjoy the moment? It would certainly provide a lot of convenience and it would be a perfect present to give!  

Membership on Trekking Gear 

Hiking and trekking is an activity that is often only enjoyed a couple of weeks a year. This often makes most trekking gear underused; which is a waste. Furthermore, with a limited use-time, it is quite common to have products of lesser quality. While most people could benefit from high quality gear, with the benefits of maintenance and repairs service on this gear. This way your gear is always in the best shape and ready for any trekking season. Furthermore, companies can successfully transfer with possible seasonality from winter to summer trekking gear (working around the seasonal aspect of a business). A trekking gear subscription could mean better use of product, less consumerism and higher quality gear for an affordable price. This can provide a win-win for both company and customer.

Modular chair lifts ‘as-a-service’

Imagine buying a chairlift to get up and down the stairs because you are revalidating from an operation or investing because you have trouble getting up the stairs? Only months later finding that this chairlift is not necessary anymore because you either are moving away, are going to live on the (flat) first floor, or you have successfully ended your revalidation trajectory? Such a waste of money and resources! What if you could rent the chairlift and pay per period and for the installation? If you do not need it anymore, the modular design makes it possible to disassemble & reassemble the chairlift, refurbish it and put it in place somewhere else again. Would you do that? It certainly puts the ‘normal’ buying of a chairlift in a whole other perspective. 

Rare Sneaker Care - Shoe service proposition

This is your typical full-service proposition. Imagine you are a self-proclaimed ‘shoe-maniac’ or ‘sneakerhead’. You love sneakers or high quality shoes; but since you also like wearing the shoes you find that these get dirty or damaged quite easily. What if it would have been possible to send your shoes to a shoe maintenance service station, that rotates your inventory of shoes really easily! They provide a special box (made out of lasting materials) that you send your shoes back and forth with on a regular basis for maintenance. Wouldn’t that provide a lot of convenience and lengthen the lifetime of your shoes?! 

Hometrainers as-a-Service with e-health monitoring. 

Do you have any home fitness equipment? Be honest here; how often do you use it?

Probably they stand idle most of the time. Wouldn’t it be great if you could add a software package with it that shows good exercises and in which you could play and compete with peers? This is more relevant than ever, especially in current lock-down periods.

Adding services to such a proposition suddenly could make it so much more enjoyable to exercise! Furthermore, imagine having a state of weaker health for some reason, wouldn’t it be great if you could have e-health monitoring services with your home trainer? This data connects with your General Practitioner (GP) or health insurance to make sure you keep on track with recovery, dietary plans or your health program, and at the same time save on your insurance bill. Think of the possibilities a well thought-out proposition would bring! We certainly would be willing to pay for this!

Providing more value

As you can see; coming up with some examples of ‘as-a-service’ ideas does not have to be hard. In fact; it is even fun! Thinking out the proposition, pricing, service component is of course a little bit more complicated than we’ll make it believe here, but it all starts with a good idea! As you can see in these propositions, with subscriptions or Product-as-a-Service (PaaS) you always have to provide more than just recurring commerce or a payment method on steroids. It should never be about an alternative way of pre-financing. Sure this can be one of the reasons, but it should always be a synergy with additional services, better quality products (e.g. efficient) and convenience (unburdening). That is where the strength lies; providing more value to the end-user! 

For those companies already operating a Product-as-a-Service (PaaS) or subscription proposition, we hope this could be an interesting learning experience. As we at Firmhouse are firm believers in learning by sharing ideas and showing what customers value in a recurring business concept. Do you have any PaaS-ideas on your own? Let us know!

We are happy to be amazed by your ideas!  Are you exploring other options to offer product 'as-a-service'? We're happy to think along with you as it can be a big step to start with a rental and a ‘as-a-service’ program, we can help you make these ideas a reality through our platform.

Want to read more like this? Make sure to check our recent blog on 8 questions to ask yourself before starting a Product-as-a-Service proposition!

Additions by readers, other fun ideas that people send us:

Subscription on washing powders and detergents; this is a quite obvious one, as everyone can relate to this; running out of washing powder.

High quality photography gear; remember that once in a lifetime trip you went on? Which you would have had a GoPro or very good camera with you? A membership model for photography rental would be a good option here. 

Toiletries & Women Hygiene Products; another interesting replenishables would be toiletries and women hygiene products. It could be quite a hassle to buy and stock up on these items every month. Furthermore, it is not considered an item you ‘like’ to go shopping for. What if you could order it on a recurring basis from the comfort of your home, would you do it?

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