How to Build a Smart Replenishment Email Campaign

By Bluecore Marketing

Have you ever ordered something like groceries or toiletries online only to get a reminder from the retailer to restock on those same items mere days after receiving your order?

It’s happened to me, and the situation was laughable to say the least. You see, I ordered a bulk-size package of raisins (I know what you’re thinking, raisins, really? Yes, I eat them in my oatmeal… can we move on now?), which should last me at least six months. Yet, two days after I received my order, I got an email from the site asking if I was running low.

How quickly could they possibly think I would go through a 4.5 pound box of raisins?

I’m not certain what they assumed I was using those raisins for. All I know is they failed to understand my motivations for purchasing, resulting in comedically irrelevant outreach – and a lost opportunity for them to drum up a sale.

I understand the logic. If I owned a restaurant, maybe I’d need to restock on raisins every few days, and the grocer would want to get my attention before a competitor did. This brings up an important question: How can you avoid the negatives of a scenario where you offer replenishment far too soon, but also reap the rewards of offering replenishment at just the right time?

Enter predictive technology for the masses.

How a Smart Replenishment Campaign Works

If you have replenishable products in your catalog and you run post-purchase campaigns to remind customers to restock, you probably use arbitrary rules to target people who bought 30 or 60 days ago. But we all know that model is flawed because everyone goes through products at different rates. The answer lies in predictive technology.

A predictive model focused on replenishment can solve that problem by making it magically easy to send personalized outreach based on each customer’s unique buying cadence. It does this by:

  1. Identifying all of the replenishable products and product categories within your catalog
  2. Surfacing unique buying cadences for each individual customer that has purchased those products
  3. Automatically sending replenishment emails at the ideal time based on that individual’s cadence

For best results, it’s recommended to use purpose-built retail marketing technology to craft intelligent replenishment campaigns. General email marketing solutions often lack the capabilities to integrate with your product catalog, making it difficult to identify replenishable products at scale. Further, your solution must have the ability to build in-depth customer profiles that track an individual’s purchasing cadence.

Best Practices to Build a Smart Replenishment Campaign

Now that we understand how smart replenishment campaigns work, let’s examine a few best practices to help maximize revenue from your own replenishment campaign.

1. Identify Replenishable Products

In order to run a proper replenishment campaign, you first need to know which products in your catalog are replenishable. In some cases this might be obvious, but in other cases it might not be.

A replenishment model that uses predictive technology should be able to intelligently identify all replenishable products (even the surprising ones) by reviewing which products customers purchased repeatedly within a given timeframe.

Why does it matter? By uncovering new replenishable products and product categories, this automatic identification helps broaden the number of customers you can reach and increase the frequency with which you can engage them with relevant content. In doing so, it should lead to increased revenue.

2. Analyze When to Send Replenishment Emails

Once you know which products in your catalog are replenishable, you obviously want to encourage customers to buy those products from you again and again. Things get tricky here because you need to hit them at just the right time. Too early, and they won’t buy and might even be turned off by a lack of personalization. Too late, and they’ve probably already bought from a competitor.

Many retailers send replenishment emails based on how often the average customer purchases a given product. However, the secret to effective replenishment lies in monitoring the buying cadence of each individual customer. For example, the average pet owner may buy a large bag of dog food every 80 to 90 days to feed two average-sized dogs. But a customer with four large dogs may need to replenish every 30 to 40 days – and if you’re only sending replenishment emails every 80 to 90 days, you’ve missed their replenishment window by a large margin.

Arriving in a customer’s inbox right on time will require you to collect plenty of customer data and use predictive analytics to forecast their next purchase date. Customers rarely operate around averages, so without this level of analysis, you’ll miss out on replenishment opportunities.

3. Create Triggers for Replenishment Campaigns

With triggered emails, you can proactively and automatically message individual customers at the optimal time to encourage them to restock, you can make your emails more relevant and timely. Best of all, a triggered email campaign will operate 24 hours a day, any day of the week.

This relevance and timeliness should make restocking a no-brainer, therefore increasing metrics like opens, clicks, conversions and revenue per email. It should also help build loyalty among customers by making restocking as convenient as possible and illustrating how well you know them.

4. Use Replenishable Products in Personalized Recommendations

If a customer purchases a replenishable product, you can’t be certain they’ll want to purchase that exact product again. Thankfully, personalized product recommendations can help you cover more ground. By inserting these recommendations into your outreach, you’ll give customers ample opportunity to either restock or purchase a similar product without causing brand fatigue.

5. A/B Test Subject Lines and Creative Assets

The most effective marketing emails have at least two iterations that are tested alongside each other. This practice, called A/B testing, helps you determine which elements of your email are most effective at converting customers. A great place to start would be your subject line, since it encourages customers to open your email and see your recommendation.

Conclusion: The Right Replenishment Model Matters

The bottom line? Getting your replenishment model right matters a lot. For example, it can help turn one-time buyers into repeat buyers and strengthen loyalty among repeat buyers. In doing so, it can also help increase the lifetime value of those customers. And who doesn’t want that?

Of course, the data says it all: Here at Bluecore, we’ve seen retailers who use predictive technology in this way increase conversion rates by as much as 90% and increase revenue per email by as much as 59% on replenishable products.

Now it’s just a matter of making those emails as effective as possible! Check out our Triggered Email Template Design Lookbook for tips and inspiration.

Bluecore Marketing