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Direct Marketing – Continuity & Subscription Merchants: What Are They?

What Are Direct Marketing – Continuity & Subscription Merchants?

Direct marketing is a marketing strategy that involves communicating with customers or potential customers directly, without using intermediaries such as retailers, wholesalers, or agents. This type of marketing is often used by businesses that want to build a direct relationship with their customers and gain control over the marketing process.

Continuity and subscription merchants are two types of direct marketing that are commonly used by businesses. Continuity merchants offer products or services on a recurring basis, typically through a subscription or membership model. Similarly, subscription merchants offer products or services on a regular basis, typically through a subscription model.

Continuity merchants often sell products that are consumed on a regular basis, such as vitamins, nutritional supplements, or personal care products. They offer these products to customers through a subscription model, where the customer receives the product on a regular basis and pays for it on an ongoing basis. This type of business model allows continuity merchants to build a steady stream of revenue and a loyal customer base.

Subscription merchants offer a range of products or services that customers can subscribe to on a regular basis. These could include anything from magazines and newspapers to meal delivery services or online streaming services. Subscription merchants typically offer a variety of subscription plans, allowing customers to choose the level of service that best meets their needs.

Both continuity and subscription merchants rely heavily on direct marketing to attract and retain customers. They often use a variety of marketing channels, including email, social media, and direct mail, to reach their target audience and promote their products or services. 

By building a direct relationship with their customers, continuity and subscription merchants are able to create a loyal customer base and drive long-term revenue growth.

What Do Continuity and Subscription Merchants Do?

Continuity and subscription merchants are businesses that sell products or services to customers on a recurring basis, usually monthly or annually. These types of merchants are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability to create predictable revenue streams and build long-term customer relationships.

Continuity merchants typically offer products that are consumable or disposable, such as vitamins, health supplements, or cleaning supplies. These products are usually shipped to customers on a regular basis, often with a discount for signing up for a subscription.

Subscription merchants, on the other hand, provide ongoing access to a service, such as a streaming video service, music service, or online training program. Customers pay a monthly or annual fee to access the service and can cancel at any time.

Both continuity and subscription merchants rely heavily on marketing and customer retention strategies to grow their businesses. They may offer discounts or special promotions to new customers or provide additional benefits to long-term subscribers. 

They also use data analytics to track customer behavior and preferences, allowing them to personalize their offerings and improve customer satisfaction.

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Are Continuity and Subscription Merchants High Risk?

Continuity and subscription merchants can be considered high risk, depending on the nature of their business and their operating practices.

One reason why continuity and subscription merchants may be viewed as high risk is the potential for chargebacks. When customers sign up for ongoing services or products, there is a greater chance for misunderstandings or disputes to arise, leading to chargebacks. 

This can be especially true if the merchant does not clearly communicate the terms and conditions of the subscription, or if they make it difficult for customers to cancel.

Another factor that may contribute to the high risk classification of continuity and subscription merchants is the potential for fraudulent activity. Since these merchants often operate on a recurring billing cycle, fraudsters may attempt to exploit the system by using stolen credit card information to sign up for services or products they have no intention of paying for. This can result in significant financial losses for the merchant.

However, not all continuity and subscription merchants are automatically considered high risk. 

If a merchant has a solid track record of providing quality products or services, maintains transparency in their billing practices, and has effective fraud prevention measures in place, they may be able to avoid the high-risk label. 

Ultimately, the risk classification of a continuity or subscription merchant will depend on a variety of factors, including the nature of their business, their industry, and their operating practices.

How to Get a Continuity Subscription Merchant Account

A continuity subscription merchant account allows businesses to bill customers on a recurring basis for their products or services. If a business is looking to set up a continuity subscription merchant account, here are some steps to follow:

  1. Research merchant account providers. Look for merchant account providers that offer continuity subscription services. Not all providers do, so it’s important to find one that specializes in this type of account.
  2. Compare fees and terms. Look at the fees and terms associated with each provider. Consider the transaction fees, monthly fees, setup fees, and any other costs that may be involved.
  3. Gather required documentation. Merchant account providers will typically require some documentation from the business to set up the account. This may include a business license, tax ID number, bank statements, and other financial documents.
  4. Apply for an account. Once a provider has been chosen and all the necessary documents have been gathered, apply for the account. This may involve filling out an online application or submitting paperwork by mail.
  5. Wait for approval. The merchant account provider will review the application and documentation to determine if the business is eligible for the account. This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
  6. Set up payment processing. Once approved for the merchant account, set up payment processing services. This may involve integrating the business’s website or payment gateway with the merchant account provider’s system.
  7. Start billing customers. With a continuity subscription merchant account set up, the business can start billing customers on a recurring basis for their products or services.

Keep in mind that continuity subscription merchant accounts can be complex, so it’s important to work with a provider that has experience in this area. They can help guide the business through the process and ensure that the account is set up correctly.

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Challenges Faced By Direct Marketing Continuity/Subscription Merchants

Direct marketing continuity/subscription merchants face a number of challenges in their business operations.

Acquiring New Customers

Continuity and subscription merchants rely heavily on acquiring new customers to maintain their recurring revenue streams. This can be a difficult and expensive process, requiring significant marketing efforts and resources.

Customer Retention

Customer retention is critical for continuity and subscription merchants, as they rely on recurring revenue from their customer base. However, retaining customers can be challenging, as customers may cancel their subscriptions due to a variety of reasons, such as financial difficulties or dissatisfaction with the product or service.

Churn Rate

Churn, or the rate at which customers cancel their subscriptions, is a key metric for continuity and subscription merchants. High churn rates can significantly impact revenue and profitability, and managing churn can be a complex and ongoing process.

Payment Processing

Continuity and subscription merchants must have incredibly solid payment processing systems in place to ensure that recurring payments are processed accurately and on time. This requires working with payment processors, managing credit card chargebacks, and dealing with issues related to failed payments.

Compliance and Regulations

Continuity and subscription merchants must comply with a range of regulations related to billing, data privacy, and consumer protection. This can be a complex and time-consuming process, requiring ongoing monitoring and compliance efforts.


​​Continuity and subscription merchants are vulnerable to fraudulent activity, such as unauthorized charges or stolen credit card information. Preventing and detecting fraud requires sophisticated fraud detection systems and ongoing monitoring.

How to Overcome Challenges of Continuity and Subscription Merchants

There are several strategies that continuity and subscription merchants can implement to overcome the challenges listed above.

  • Provide exceptional customer service. Customer service is critical in the continuity and subscription business model. Merchants must provide excellent customer service to maintain customer retention by responding and resolving issues quickly
  • Offer flexible payment options. Offering flexible payment options, such as monthly or annual billing, can help mitigate any cash flow challenges. Merchants can also offer discounts for customers who choose to pay for the entire year upfront
  • Provide valuable benefits. To differentiate themselves from competitors, merchants should consider providing valuable benefits to customers. For example, offering exclusive content or access to events can help increase customer loyalty and retention
  • Leverage data analytics. Data analytics can help continuity and subscription merchants better understand their customers’ behavior and preferences. By analyzing customer data, merchants can make informed decisions about product offerings, pricing, and marketing strategies
  • Monitor competition. Continuity and subscription merchants must keep a close eye on the competition to stay ahead of the game. Merchants can conduct regular competitive analysis to identify trends, pricing strategies, and new product offerings
  • Innovate constantly. Innovation is crucial in the continuity and subscription business model. Merchants should regularly evaluate their product offerings and identify areas for improvement. They can also explore new revenue streams, such as upselling or cross-selling, to increase customer lifetime value.
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