Subscription services have grown tremendously in the last two years in South Africa and will continue to do so.The local subscription economy is expected to grow 14 percent each year to exceed USD$820 million in 2025.

Given the expected growth, the opportunities are immense says Andrew Springate, CEO of tech and financial gateway service provider PAYM8.

The pandemic, left little option for consumers but to turn to online solutions that offered seamless access to products and services when they were otherwise unavailable. 

In the process, they gained more confidence in online and ecommerce services – especially with the associated improvements in security and protection during this time.   

While a good product or service offering is crucial in running a successful business, it’s important not to neglect the behind-the-scenes functionality. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

1. Security first

While customers expect frictionless payment functionality, and this, in turn, increases customer retention, it should never come at the cost of data integrity, security, fraud monitoring and containment.

You as the merchant need guaranteed payments, fraud prevention and business security, while your customers’ data and privacy must be protected if they are to trust your company – especially in the case of automatic recurring subscription payments. 

Always ensure your service provider puts safety first.

2. Think ahead

Customer retention is crucial in the subscription model and even giants like Netflix aren’t safe. Video-on-demand subscription cancellations are expected to reach 30 percent this year as competition between these service providers escalates.

While cancellations happen, they should never be because of administrative problems such as expired cards leading to stopped payments in the middle of the subscription period. 

Card associations such as Visa and MasterCard now identify soon-to-expire cards and can either replace the payment arrangement with the new details or assist the merchant in updating their customer records. 

Be sure to use a trusted partner who can help you find a long-term payment solution.   

3. Cater to a wider audience

While the subscription model used to focus on higher income groups, there has been incredible growth across all LSM markets. 

Lower LSM groups that have access to mobile technology enjoy the value for money that subscription models offer, whereas higher LSM groups are often after the convenience.

The massive value benefits associated with subscription models have made for an overwhelming business case. 

Talk to your payment provider about offering payment options that cater to these differing audiences. 

4. Stay up to date

Debit orders are a convenient payment solution, but it is far too easy for consumers to retrospectively dispute the transaction. 

Recently, authenticated collections (better known as DebiCheck) have made disputability almost impossible by pre-authorising debit orders but not all debit order collectors are DebiCheck compliant yet. 

Make sure to stay up to date with such developments as the market expands exponentially.   

5. Think outside the box 

When it comes to payments, retrospective payment products or pay-as-you-go are equally compelling options, depending on your business model. 

You don’t have to limit your offering to physical goods, either – many companies are using our payment gateway to offer unique, affordable assistance services to their staff and member base, for example. 

Do your market research and broaden your horizons – and your customer base.