Music industry has faced disruption ever since Napster days. Spotify, Pandora, Grooveshark and the likes of them have taken the lead and have made sure that an ‘app’ is all you need to get any track you want, wherever you want and on any device you want them on.
“Living the Analog Dream”
Just when the world is heading in one direction, a couple of vinyl enthusiasts, Tyler Barstow and Matt Fiedler, are asking you to clean up your dad’s vinyl player and dive into the purity of analog world.
They are sending out one exclusive, limited-edition record each month to help you with your vinyl collection. They send what they think you must have and their 10,000+ subscribers are happy letting them make that choice for them. Welcome to ‘Vinyl Me, Please’.
“Music as the focus”
Music purists love the vinyl format because they admire the way the record is pressed, the weight, the art and most importantly the sound that comes out of a vinyl. VMP’s customers are musical purists. VMP pleases them by packing each record with exquisite artwork and by, getting them access to some exclusively pressed records.
They also send them a cocktail recipe that plays well with the music of the month. They are meticulous about creating a musical experience that is both physical and emotional as well.
Tyler and Matt started off ‘Vinyl Me, Please’ as a side project in their living room with just 10 subscribers in the first month. The demand grew steadily through ‘word of mouth’ of their passionate subscribers.
They were cash flow positive right from the first month of launch and continued growing their subscriber base each month. They knew one thing when they saw traction, that they needed to quickly get their systems ready for scale.
“Climbing up the walls”
VMP had launched off with Stripe and a simple billing system. It worked really well in their early days, definitely better than spreadsheets and emails, but as they scaled to hundred odd customers complexity started creeping in. And the need for something better built on.
From Stripe to ChargeBee + Stripe; “The switch”
###* “One of a kind”*
Every business is different. In VMP’s case, their month starts from 2nd of each month and ends at 1st of the next. This is to help with their fulfillment schedule by focusing on one major shipment as opposed to ongoing shipments throughout any given month.
When new members sign up, they’re account starts on the next 2nd of the month, receiving the record being featured when their account is activated. While for all practical purposes, their business calendar is like any other, their fulfilment schedule works a little differently as explained above.
Custom code was written for VMP to drop into their transaction pages and it took care of their special needs quite easily.
“Rocky road to Dublin”
With their product being a ‘physical’ vinyl that gets shipped out each month to their customers. Handling fulfilment of physical products is a whole new ball game, the one which VMP found ChargeBee to be perfect for.
ChargeBee’s exports came in handy to VMP as they quickly and easily setup shipping lists that could be imported to their fulfillment partner and automate their shipping.
“Can it be all so simple”
VMP, like any good lean business, doesn’t like to employ people where technology can do the job. Managing ‘customer preferences’ is one such area.
Most businesses would have customers call a hotline number if they need to change their credit card info or such. That’s fine when you are small but a fast growing company like VMP would need to attend to hundreds of such inquiries each month if they don’t have an alternative.
Today, VMP’s customers are each given a login and a portal where they can update their preferences real time, all by themselves.
That’s plenty of man hours saved for VMP and very convenient for their customers.
“The big picture”
Great reporting and analytics are essential to understand the big picture and make effective decisions. No one gets to witness all the action like a software that handles payment from your customers.
ChargeBee understands this and has meticulously put together a dashboard with all the vital stats for the ones at helm. Then, there’s custom reports for those who need more.
VMP found this detailed reporting and analytics refreshingly useful.
“You’re still in on my mind”
THE STORE FOR MORE
For the audiophiles subscribing to VMP, one track a month couldn’t quench their thirst for music.
There are so many great records that it’s hard to just have 1 record per month that we were to offer customers. We heard from them that they’d like to buy more from us, so we set up a way to do that with the same curatorial nature of our core product.
VMP wanted to offer more to their subscribers by allowing them to buy records at their will (After all it takes only minute before you start lusting for John Coltrane and all the wild things he could take a saxophone to).
So, VMP offered their exquisite record library as one-off sales by leveraging them as add-ons. ChargeBee not only accommodates but actually simplifies selling add-on products.
PERSONALIZING THE ECOMMERCE ENGINE
Apart from setting up the ecommerce store, VMP wanted to offer it only to members. And with VMP built on WordPress, WooCommerce was the obvious choice. ChargeBee helped VMP set up a login system, leveraging the APIs and allowing only their subscribers to access the store and avail other membership related benefits.
Now, VMP offers a lot more to their valued members, with ChargeBee enabling it.
ChargeBee has been great to work with. They’ve helped us grow our business tremendously. They’re always quick to respond and open to feedback. That’s rare in my experience.
VMP continues to keep ‘analog’ in the trend. Their subscription business is growing ever so briskly. Their systems are upgraded to accommodate their scale up plans. ChargeBee continues to remain their preferred partner.
And Vinyl Me, Please the best damn record club out there.
Its stories, relationships and challenges like this that keep us coming back to work every day. That said, come back and hear us tell you another great story in a few days.
Meanwhile, if you are in the subscription business, do signup for our zero obligation free trial. Now is a good time to make a great story together! 🙂
Story credits to Matt Fiedler, Krish Subramanian, Rajaraman Santhanam and Akash Sharma