You’ve probably seen subscriptions popping up left and right in ecommerce stores, maybe you’ve even thought about adding them to your own offerings? But as a store owner, does it make sense to incorporate subscriptions into your store? If only you had some data or figures that prove why it makes sense!
Good news, you’re in the right place!
In this post authored by our friends at ReCharge Payments, we’re taking a deep dive into what every ecommerce store owner needs to know about subscriptions. Let’s jump right in.
Table of Contents
What is the subscription economy?
Just what is the subscription economy anyway?
The term ‘subscription economy’, coined by Zuoro’s CEO Tien Tzuo, references how consumers are changing their mindset about daily purchases, shifting towards subscriptions as opposed to the classic pay-per-product model.
As long as commerce has existed, people have been forced to shop in brick and mortar stores, often making multiple stops to get all the products they’re looking for. With the rise of ecommerce, you can now stay in your pajamas while you shop for a wedding dress.
We’re already seeing the next step of the ecommerce evolution. What started as a renting relationship (think ZipCar, Netflix, etc.) lead to membership models (like Amazon Prime and Dollar Shave Club). Today, the subscription economy means many different things.
The Zuora website explains the subscription economy as:
“At the heart of the Subscription Economy® is the idea that customers are happier subscribing to the outcomes they want, when they want them, rather than purchasing a product with the burden of ownership.”
Along with the overall shift in customer experience it brings, there are some unique benefits to the subscription model for store owners:
- Sustainability: Recurring revenue helps add stability to businesses
- Long-term relationships: Regular, automated purchases organically foster a long-term relationship between brands and customers that drive loyalty
- Predictability: This model helps companies make more accurate growth predictions, forecasts, and predictions around performance metrics
- Flexibility: More adaptable to customers’ wants and needs
Now that we have the definition out of the way, let’s next look at how the subscription economy has evolved over the past couple of years.
How has the subscription economy evolved?
From increasing consumer adoption to the diversification of the subscription marketplace, there has been explosive growth across the board. Let’s look more specifically at how this exponential growth came to be.
Recently, we’ve seen more brands in the subscription landscape leveraging the rich customer data they collect through subscription-based purchases for more personalized ongoing marketing efforts.
This has made a big impact to their bottom lines, as eConsultancy data shows 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement. Personalization can also improve success rates around upselling and increasing average order value, while also driving re-engagement campaigns.
Changing Customer Demands
Modern customer’s wants and needs are evolving at a quick pace. In fact, the entire reason curated subscription brands can exist is because these desires are quite different from what consumers have traditionally asked for from brands and companies.
Customers expect more flexibility and more purchase options around products and services. Data shows 80% of customers want new consumption models like subscriptions or sharing. In addition, Forbes reported that in recent years subscriptions grew nine times faster than S&P 500 companies (15.1% vs. 1.7% on average).
What’s Happening with Subscriptions Now?
At this point, you might be wondering, “Okay, so how does all that relate to me deciding whether or not to add subscriptions to my store?”
The subscription model is still growing rapidly within this environment–and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Reports show that subscription-based products have grown by more than 100% a year for the past five years, and that they have generated more than $2.6 billion total in sales.
Part of this growth is that customers have grown familiar with long-term membership models like Amazon Prime. We’ve also seen subscription-based products like Spotify for music streaming, food delivery through companies like Blue Apron, learning products like Lynda.com, and many more.
But all of this good news around subscription growth comes with a unique set of challenges, too. As companies work hard to introduce new subscription-based products and services, they’re faced with challenges such as:
- Conversion for monthly commitment: Getting buy-in from new subscribers who are uncertain about the monthly commitment
- Customer retention: Retaining customers and reducing churn for stable, long-term growth (rather than regular turnover, which drives down lifetime value of a customer)
- Customer satisfaction: Once customers are attained, maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction so they don’t opt-out of a subscription and/or share their poor experiences online
Savvy companies are aware of these problems and are tackling them in creative ways. Next, let’s look at a few different companies who have successfully integrated subscriptions.
Companies that Do Subscriptions Well:
There are many, many companies that succeed using subscriptions, let’s take a look at some role model businesses who see great success and rapid growth with subscriptions.
Hubble is a contact lens subscription service that allows customers with a valid prescription to skip the eye doctor’s office and order contacts online.
What they do well:
- Free offer to minimize risk and uncertainty for first-time customers (first box free)
- $1 per day cost breakdown
- Adjustable subscriptions that fit customer needs
Lola is a female-led company that sells organic feminine hygiene and reproductive care products on a subscription basis.
What they do well:
- Allow for customization of subscription boxes for greater customer control
- Adjustable delivery schedules to suit customers’ needs
- Discounts for increased order volume
Mikkeller is a German company that exports microbrewed beer to 40 different countries and is internationally acclaimed as one of the most innovative and cutting edge breweries in the world. Along with a wide variety of beer, wine, and spirits, they offer also offer monthly subscription boxes.
What they do well:
- Handpicked selection of product each month with an element of surprise, good for new product discovery
- Adjustable delivery schedule option
- On-page video for rich content
How to Add Subscriptions in Your Store
Thanks for sticking with us this far! Let’s get to the good stuff… Based on years of data from ReCharge’s merchants, we can confidently say these three suggestions will jumpstart your business and set you on the path for success.
1. Make sure subscriptions are prominently featured.
Whether you put subscriptions on a “sticky header” (one that always sticks to the top of the browser) or simply on the product details page, it needs to be prominent! Don’t be afraid to highlight how much a potential customer can save by subscribing. Trust us, it’s not overkill to make it brightly colored and place it in three locations on the page.
Fresh Clean Tees directs your attention to their subscription options above the fold right on their homepage.
2. Show examples of what’s been included in previous boxes.
If you offer a monthly box subscription, you should always include examples of the types of items that come in these boxes. Customers are attracted to visuals and love to see photos of what your deliveries will look like. It may even be effective to show the exact contents of the last few shipments.
Bootaybag does an excellent job of showing what you missed last month to entice you to subscribe for next month.
3. Be clear and open about cancellation options.
One of the best pieces of advice we can offer is to not hide information about skipping or cancellation. Let your potential subscribers know that it’s easy to skip a delivery for any reason? or to cancel if they’re unhappy. If customers love your product, they’ll stick around?—?but if they’re unhappy, making it difficult to skip or cancel will force more commitment issues, not less.
Ellie makes it very clear you have the option to cancel before you even become a subscriber. They go above and beyond by providing their support phone number and hours to reach them for any other questions.
The Future of the Subscription Economy
The future of the subscription economy is a bright one.
Here are a few trends in particular that stand out and are things to watch for on the horizon:
- Based on current trends and predictions, we can expect to see continued growth around subscription products as well as greater utilization of the subscription model in both B2B and B2C businesses.
- In the world of ecommerce, it’s likely we’ll also see continued expansion around omni-channel commerce and subscriptions across selling platforms as well, along with increased interconnectivity and automation.
- We’ll also likely see an increasing expectation for personalization and customization, as customers will continue to seek out a tailor-made experience rather than a one-size-fits all approach when it comes to retail.
Above all, the growth trajectory for this market doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon–so we can expect to see increased competition around this recurring revenue model as more retailers and merchants find ways to introduce subscription-based products.
There’s never been a better time to get your feet wet with subscriptions!
About ReCharge Payments
ReCharge is the only Shopify Plus-approved platform for recurring billing. They work with over 10,000 merchants and power some of the largest subscription stores on Shopify. Sell and manage repeat orders in one powerful yet simple all-in-one platform. Your subscription orders are together in one place and easier than ever to manage.