The Anatomy of a Perfect Replenishment Email

There’s no more frustrating feeling than reaching for something when you need it, only to discover that you’ve run out. The well is dry. The bottle is empty.

Food and beverage supplies (plastic cups, paper plates, plastic utensils), office and paper supplies, arts and crafts supplies, makeup, toilet paper, home cleaning supplies, vitamins, supplements, health and beauty items, baking supplies, favorite snacks, baby formula, pet food, razor blades, lotion, cologne, diapers, medicine, perfume, contact lens and cleaner…the list goes on.

The Amazon Dash program has taken replenishment into the 21st century with wifi-enabled 1-click buttons that automatically reorder and pay for the consumables we use most. Push the button, and the item is on its way. Most eCommerce businesses don’t have the capital or infrastructure to support that kind of system, though.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still be first in mind with customers when it’s time to stock up again. How?

Replenishment emails. These messages are triggered and sent automatically to customers when it’s time – or likely time based on predictive data science – to reorder consumable products like beauty or cleaning supplies.

A recent study by Listrak found that replenishment campaigns have the highest click-to-open rates of any other email marketing at 53.6%.



The effectiveness of a replenishment campaign shouldn’t come as a surprise. It goes out to a relatively small group, and it’s the epitome of both timely and relevant. You’re literally sending them the means to get something at the moment they need it most.

It’s like magic for them and for you.

If you have an eCommerce platform and sell any kind of consumable product, you need a replenishment strategy.

How Replenishment Emails Work

Any time someone buys something from your eCommerce store, they’re leaving a digital footprint. A virtual papertrail.

You can use that to collect invaluable data on them, their buying habits, and purchase cycle.

A replenishment campaign uses this data to send out timely reminders in partnership with an automated email marketing service like SmartMail.

There are several ways to determine when your customers need to be reminded:

  1. Set schedules. A disposable contact lens kit, for example, might label itself as a one month supply.
  2. Buying cycle based on the average. If repeat customers buy Product A every 3.5 weeks, that can be your starting point. But not everyone consumes at the same rate.
  3. Jane Doe might go through it faster than most. Wait until she purchases at least twice to get her individual buying cycle. It might be only 2 weeks for her, while someone else may only replenish every 6 weeks. This process is called order gap analysis (OGA).
  4. Predictive data science can pull all those data points together and analyze it for a more precise and personalized figure. Many automated email marketing platforms can do this for you.

Use one, a few, or use them all. Obviously, the closer you are to each individual’s “replenishment moment”, the higher conversion rate you’re going to see. More data means more accuracy and precision.


A buying cycle might be as little as a few weeks, one month, a couple months, bi-annually, or even annually or more. The beauty of replenishment emails is you can set it for however long down the road it need be.

Harrod Horticultural, for example, created a replenishment campaign for its Nemaslug natural slug killer.

A typical consumable product? Not really. But customers who bought it in the spring would likely want and need to buy it again the following year. And so…


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Simple, checks all the boxes, and made reordering the product super easy. This replenishment campaign saw a 45% open rate, a 47% click-to-sale rate, and generated a 50% increase in sales year-over-year for that particular product.

Not bad for a single email sent a year later.

31DoverImage Source

The 31Dover replenishment email above is clear, fun, and playful. It’s true to its brand voice, but still gets the job done. Personalized, compelling, upselling, social media. Check.

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Replenishment Email Best Practices

The hard part is done: the email recipients already know you and the product. The amount of “selling” you have to do is minimal.

  1. Make it immediately apparent who the email is from with your brand name and logo prominent at the top.
  2. Be sure and include at least one high quality photo of the product.
  3. Explicitly state any promos, discounts, or special offers – like free shipping – that you have running at the moment. Make them time sensitive.
  4. Are there any upsell or cross-sell opportunities? Consider adding them at the bottom of your replenishment email. Give them a chance to add to or adjust their order with personalized recommendations.
  5. Link directly to the product page, or even better, your checkout cart with the product already added. The easier it is for them to reorder, the more likely they will.
  6. Remember to give them enough time to replenish before actually running out. A 30-day buying cycle? Send the replenishment email around 20 days after their last purchase.
  7. Include relevant links to your social media profiles, customer service portals, and unsubscribe button.  
  8. Even a subscription service like Dollar Shave Club can seize the “replenishment” email opportunity. Provide the chance to buy related products, change the quantity, or up the frequency for the subscribed product.
  9. Keep it simple and straightforward. Less is more. Customers don’t want blocks of text trying to sell them on the benefits and features of a product they’ve already bought and enjoyed. A quick reminder about the main selling point is fine, but keep it to a minimum.

Replenishment Email Subject Lines

As with all email marketing, your subject line has to make an impression. With so many emails arriving in our inbox, the subject line can literally make or break your campaign.

Keep it brief. And make it crystal clear what the email is about:

  • Time to Restock/Reorder
  • Is It Time to Refill?
  • Down to Your Last Drop?
  • Get Free Delivery/15% Off If You Replenish Now
  • Ready to Top Up?
  • Running Low [on BLANK]?
  • Nothing Lasts Forever
  • Need a Refill?
  • Reorder Now for Free Delivery/15% Off/Bonus Gift

You get the idea. Make it an obvious REPLENISHMENT email to guarantee it gets opened and clicked. They’ve already bought once. They’ll probably buy again. Make it crazy easy for them.


A replenishment strategy is an eCommerce strategy. You can’t really have one without the other if you’re selling consumables or monthly subscriptions.

Repeat customers are the lifeblood of any business. And a replenishment campaign can make getting them to return again and again a snap. Identify those customers that are purchasing your consumable products, find the repurchase or buying cycle using all available data streams, and set up automatic replenishment emails to go out accordingly.

You’ll never miss an opportunity or leave revenue on the table again.  

A successful replenishment campaign means more revenue, more sales, happy customers, and a higher lifetime customer value. And they work: Ometria found an average open rate between 50-60%, average click-through rate between 40-50%, and an average conversion rate between 10-15%.

Email marketing is effective. Replenishment emails are some of the best of the best on that already powerful channel.

SmartMail can make both work for you.   



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