Order scheduling — or letting customers schedule one-time or repeat orders to be delivered on a specific date or time or on a set day each week, month, or over a customized regular cadence — is an excellent way for businesses to offer customers convenient delivery experiences.
Moreover, when scheduled orders are recurring (and they mostly are), they build a steady subscription income stream for sellers. Scheduled orders thus serve both you and your customers.
Did you know that scheduling (repeat) orders is popular across different industries? In one survey, 35% of consumers said they have used/use scheduled ordering at online stores (via subscribe and save schemes), and another 36% said they would consider it.
So how exactly do scheduled orders work? Read on to find out. We’ll also look at an easy way to add order scheduling to your WordPress-WooCommerce store.
What is a scheduled order?
Simply put, scheduled orders are orders that are placed for future delivery.
If you’ve ever ordered a cake for someone to get delivered on their birthday or anniversary, then that’s a scheduled order.
Now, let’s get to recurring scheduled orders.
Recurring scheduled orders are orders that get placed, processed, and delivered automagically on a schedule that you or your customers set. In general, when we talk about scheduled orders on our blog, we mean recurring scheduled orders.
In such orders, a customer purchases a product (or a set of products) as a subscription. And each subscription is a set of scheduled orders for a specific number of repeat purchases.
Customers consider subscribing and scheduling orders as they get discounts for them. Take Amazon’s Subscribe and Save scheme, for instance. It lets users schedule orders on a consistent schedule and offers various discounts for locking in for different subscription lengths.
Likewise, meal subscription services are all about subscriptions and scheduled ordering, where orders tend to be recurring — think, a meal every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Curation boxes are yet another use case. Dollar Shave Club’s curated grooming subscription service is a classic case study.
Below you’ve got an example of a WooCommerce store selling a product as a subscription and offering a significant 15% discount to its customers who schedule orders for a longer term:
How a scheduled order gets processed
Once a customer signs up for such a subscription, your store generates automated scheduled orders for them.
In a monthly recurring scheduled order case, your store generates an order for the scheduled product(s) each month. And then, it processes the order the same way as it would process a regular order.
BUT, instead of asking your users for their payment details, the details entered during the subscription are used. Said another way: Your store charges automated payments using your customers’ preferred method and payment details. Similarly, you use the registered shipping address each time without bothering the customer about the same.
You can choose to alert your customers a few days before their scheduled order is to be charged. Doing so gives them a window to edit their upcoming subscription or cancel it. As the seller, you can choose the days leading up to the delivery during which the orders are editable.
As you can imagine, recurring scheduled ordering means repeat ordering on autopilot that a scheduled shopping solution like Autoship Cloud makes possible (more on this below).
It might appear that scheduled orders are a “consumers” thing, but they’re not. Even B2B businesses that supply materials to B2C and D2C industries benefit from scheduled ordering or subscriptions.
Why should businesses enable users to schedule orders?
Both businesses and customers benefit from scheduled orders.
Nearly guaranteed recurring sales (and revenue)
The key benefit of scheduled orders is that you generate near-guaranteed sales. If a dog parent orders supplements for their pet from your store, you can incentivize them and have them schedule orders for a couple more months. This way, you also know the volume of (the almost guaranteed) sales you’ll be making in the near future.
Subscription data thus helps you forecast your nearly-guaranteed revenue for the next day, week, month… and even the entire quarter.
With order scheduling, inventory management is also simplified. If you keep a tab on your scheduled deliveries, you can save sales that get lost due to your stock running out. Also, keeping good stock levels isn’t a problem if you know which products sell consistently and have been sort of pre-ordered already for a certain number of times.
Increased customer loyalty
Customers love the discounts they get when they subscribe. Customers also get free from the “work” they need to do otherwise if making one-off purchases. With recurring scheduled orders, customers don’t have to choose the products they need, enter their payment information, or input their shipping details each time they need to buy. This is all taken care of. Plus, with a scheduled orders solution like Autoship Cloud, they can edit, pause, or even cancel their upcoming scheduled orders.
A scheduled commerce engine like QPilot (that powers Autoship Cloud) puts your recurring scheduled order management on autopilot. Everything related to the order processing, right from reading the status of your inventory and making adjustments to the upcoming subscriptions (for example, deleting an out-of-stock product) to emailing customers about their scheduled orders that are due to be charged and processing the recurring payments, everything is taken care of automatically. This results in cost and effort savings and frees up your time, so you can focus on growing your business.
If you’re considering enabling order scheduling on your store, here’s how to do it.
How to enable scheduled and recurring orders on your website?
If you run a WooCommerce store, Autoship Cloud is your most complete solution to sell subscriptions to your customers and introduce order scheduling. It converts your one-time customers into lifetime subscribers.
Autoship Cloud is much more than your typical WooCommerce subscription plugins. With Autoship Cloud, you can:
- Add an Amazon-like Subscribe and Save option to your product pages and also to your cart page.
- Convert your simple and variable WooCommerce products into subscribable products that your customers can order and schedule for recurring deliveries.
- Devise upselling and cross-selling schemes for different subscription lengths.
- Offer coupons and other schemes like free shipping to reward your most loyal customers (and boost customer retention).
- Let customers own their subscription experience by allowing them to edit, reschedule, and even cancel their scheduled orders/subscriptions.
- Set up email communications to keep your subscribers engaged throughout their subscription lifecycle (via Sendgrid).
- Connect all of your shipping accounts to subscription orders (via ShipperHQ)
- Automatically ensure that your users get the cheapest shipping rates each time (via ShipperHQ)
- Maintain a good inventory by staying on top of your subscription data and make sure you never run out of your most-selling subscription products.
- Automatically remove out-of-stock items from any upcoming scheduled orders that have them without any manual intervention.
- Use data from Autoship cloud’s revenue dashboard to understand your key business metrics, including your lifetime customer value, and make data-based growth decisions.
Autoship Cloud is a full-blown scheduled order management solution that brings everything you need to offer scheduled ordering for your physical products on your WooCommerce store.
You can find step-by-step instructions for setting up Autoship Cloud on your website in this tutorial. Here’s a video of the same:
Once you enable autoshipping on your WooCommerce store with Autoship Cloud, your customers will be able to:
- Schedule orders on your store for future deliveries (while getting discounts that you offer with your recurring scheduled order plans/subscriptions).
- Change the delivery dates of their upcoming scheduled orders — rescheduling.
- Upgrade or downgrade their subscription plans.
- Edit their scheduled order deliveries (i.e., add or remove items or change quantities).
- Edit their shipping addresses, add or edit payment methods, and apply coupon codes, if you send any!
When you power your subscriptions or recurring scheduled orders via Autoship Cloud, your customers will love it, as they truly own their subscription experience with it. Within a year of using our platform, Autoship Cloud users report an average 10% growth in AOV (average order value).
Wrapping it up…
Recurring scheduled orders or subscriptions are the way to guaranteed sales, revenue, and customer loyalty.
So what are you waiting for? Sign up for Autoship Cloud today and let your customers schedule orders on your store.
With its effortless setup, slick user experience (both for you and your customers), support for most of the popular payment methods and gateways, sales and marketing tools, support for subscription lifecycle email communications, intelligent inventorying, shipping integrations, and sales data and intelligence, Autoship Cloud brings end-to-end scheduled order management right to your WordPress-WooCommerce dashboard.
Take advantage of our two-week fully-featured trial and see how easy launching recurring scheduled orders and payments on your store can be. If you need more time, tell us. We’ll happily extend your trial by another couple of weeks. Sign up for Autoship Cloud today!