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5 Tips to Help BigCommerce Subscription Sellers Thrive

Give customers exactly what they crave by selling subscriptions. And now it’s easier than ever to sell subscriptions through the BigCommerce platform.

Updated:  

November 16, 2022

Predictable revenue, increased customer loyalty and an easy path to growth — what ecommerce business doesn’t want that? You’ve likely heard that recurring revenue is good for your business (especially during an economic downturn). That’s why subscription offerings are on the rise among small direct-to-consumer companies and bigger brands alike.

It’s easy to add a subscription to your BigCommerce store if you’d like to get in on the trend. In fact, the right tools will help you start selling subscription offers the same day you think of it. But don’t rush it if you want to succeed. 

Launching a subscription box or other subscription offers when you’re used to one-off sales requires you to enter a new mindset. Subscriptions aren’t just about products; they’re about the consumer relationships you build. Here are the best tips to help new BigCommerce subscription sellers launch a subscription that customers will want to buy.

1. Know Why You're Launching a Subscription

“Everyone else is doing it” isn’t enough to justify the time and resources it takes to launch a subscription. Don’t get started on this path unless you know it makes sense for your business. To determine that, you need to know what your goals are. Are you looking for recurring revenue to fund your expansion into a new market? A subscription could give you what you need. Are you looking to move past a customer service faux pas and win people back? You may need a different approach.

If a subscription is right for you, it’s time to figure out what you’re selling. There are four main types of subscriptions:

  • Replenishment subscriptions deliver a steady supply of a consumable product (think makeup, food or dog toys) to customers.
  • Curation subscriptions include new and unique items in every delivery. These subscriptions typically follow a certain theme (think clothing or books), but each customer receives a box tailored to their interests.
  • Membership subscriptions give access to products or perks that are exclusive to subscribers.
  • Service subscriptions provide a tool (whether it’s online TV or collaborative word processing abilities) in exchange for a recurring payment.

You’ll need to choose your subscription model and products at the same time to make sure they’re compatible. If you sell strollers, a replenishment subscription would be silly — but you could try a membership subscription that grants access to parenting experts and a community of other new parents. You should also conduct competitor research to make sure your offering is unique, or you’ll have trouble finding buyers. Find an option that works with your business and serves a unique niche, then create a subscription pricing strategy that will make it profitable.

A box containing subscription commerce products

2. Ask What Would Make Your Customers Happy

Your subscription needs to deliver value to consumers that goes beyond the products you’re sending. Some subscriptions bundle items to sell at a discount; others give buyers a fun unboxing experience each month. Some just eliminate the hassle of shopping for the same product every month.

Match your value proposition with an experience that shows you care about your subscribers. Give new customers big savings by offering trials, gift items or other incentives when they join. Keep them around with coupons for their favorite products or some other loyalty program. PwC’s Customer Loyalty Survey found that customers value subscription services that offer discounts and rewards more than those that just provide cost savings.

Make your subscription fun by adding personalization. Give your subscribers the option to rate their products every month, then tailor next month’s box based on what they share. Or offer them the chance to curate their own experience by swapping out products and choosing their subscription frequency. Subscribers love getting new products in the mail, and they’ll be pleased when your deliveries perfectly fit their lifestyles and needs.

Make the shopping experience easy with a simple checkout process that integrates with multiple payment gateways, preferably one with multi-currency support, so you can serve customers in different countries. Shoppers want ecommerce businesses to start supporting their preferred payment methods. Show them you care by giving them the option to pay how they want. Every interaction with a customer is another chance to provide an excellent experience that adds value to their life.

3. Set Your Business Up With the Right Tools to Succeed

The subscription management software you choose has to be able to provide those valuable services, and it has to support your team’s ability to serve customers. The first thing you should evaluate when choosing a tool is whether it will support your subscription vision. sticky.io’s BigCommerce subscription app is one example of a tool that covers every need mentioned in the previous section. Make sure you find an app that meets your needs in a similar manner without requiring hours of configuration.

You also want an app that’s easy to use. It should integrate with your current tech stack, work with the other BigCommerce apps you’ve installed and have a knowledgeable and responsive customer support team. Don’t waste time on a solution that requires you to call IT for every change; find a tool that’s easy to install and update.

Finally, make sure your app has tools to support your business’ growth. Strong security and fraud prevention is a must. Customers treat a company’s cybersecurity as the most important element when considering whom to trust. You also want your data kept safe.

Webinar to explain how BigCommerce subscription sellers can thrive

4. Gather Performance Data to Plan for Growth

Combine your big-picture performance information with details about customer activity to set your company on a path of growth. The right data will show you the pain points that cause people to unsubscribe, giving you a chance to improve those interactions. It also shows you what customers have been buying and how often, so you can upsell them with the perfect add-on at the perfect time.

The following KPIs are essential for understanding how a subscription offering is performing:

  • Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and annual recurring revenue (ARR): This number measures how much you earn (and expect to earn) from your subscribers. These numbers tell you how your company is performing overall and help you forecast future needs.
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC): The amount spent per customer gained. A high CAC will cut into your profits substantially.
  • Average revenue per account (ARPA): The average amount each customer spends with you during a subscription cycle. If you offer different subscription tiers or flexible pricing, your ARPA shows what price your customers consider reasonable for your offering.  
  • Customer lifetime value (CLTV): The amount a customer spends with you over the course of their subscription. Your CLTV needs to be higher than your CAC, or you’ll be losing money with each new subscriber.
  • Churn rate: The number of customers you lose each billing cycle. If customers are canceling subscriptions (voluntary churn), you need to reevaluate the value you’re offering and the service you’re providing. If they’re lost to failed transactions (involuntary churn), you may need to revisit your dunning strategy or get a tool with automatic retries.

You may also track other KPIs, depending on your business goals. Good subscription management software helps you gather and analyze the data. For instance, we provide analytics dashboards that visualize your performance from month to month. Having an accurate view of growth, churn, product performance and more will tell you where you should focus if you want to keep customers around and happy.

5. Shift to a Relationship-Oriented Mindset

Companies that rely on one-off sales dedicate most of their resources to acquisition. Those that introduce a subscription model must also introduce a focus on customer retention. Every new subscription is the beginning of a relationship. The way you treat that relationship will determine whether a customer stays.

Take care of your subscribers with quality products and good customer service, and you’ll earn their loyalty. Customers who are happy with what you’re delivering will stay with your subscription as long as it continues to meet their needs and fit their budget. They’ll buy less from competitors and more from you — an excellent formula for company growth.

Companies that fail to prioritize their customers’ needs will lose subscribers due to dissatisfaction. When someone signs up for a subscription, they’re trusting your company will be able to deliver the product and experience they’re after. It’s hard to win that trust back if it’s broken. Most buyers (92%) will grant companies a second chance, according to PwC’s Customer Loyalty Survey. But 55% of customers say they’d walk away from a business after several bad experiences. Make sure you can deliver on your promises in a timely manner and promptly address customer complaints when they arise.

Support Your Subscription Offering With a Strong Backend

A good customer experience relies on a solid infrastructure, and sticky.io Subscriptions for BigCommerce has everything sellers need. Our app is easy to install and configure, works natively with BigCommerce and comes with top-tier customer support. It offers flexibility and reliability and comes ready to scale with your business. We know everything there is to know about starting and scaling a subscription, and we built our app to help BigCommerce sellers get off to a strong start.

Launch your BigCommerce subscription today with the sticky.io app. Sign up for a free demo to learn more.