Must-Know Info for Selling Subscriptions on Shopify

Subscription models do more than increase customer retention and lower acquisition costs. They also help Shopify merchants build a loyal following and predictable revenue streams.

Shopify shopper opening a subscription box

Subscription commerce models have exploded in popularity in recent years. In fact, retail subscriptions in the U.S. total approximately $15 billion per month. Trends indicate that consumer buying is hyper-focused on simplicity built through seamless online browsing, convenience and predictable delivery of valued products.

In this post, we’ll dive into the subscription industry, discuss the ease of launching subscriptions on Shopify and dive into strategies for selling subscriptions directly through the Shopify platform.

Status of Subscription Industry and Growth Projections

Trends denote a clear upward path for subscription services globally, but where did the industry conceptualize and how did it evolve? As a revolutionary idea, subscription businesses, like Birchbox, sought to bring makeup and skincare product staples directly to consumers every month, for a recurring fee.

This, in essence, is what ecommerce subscription models are: charging customers a recurring fee in return for the regular supply of products. This regular supply is often either 1) replenishing similar items (i.e., getting new razor blades each month) or 2) curating new or surprise items, such as skincare products or craft supplies. Buyers across all markets are leaning into the convenience of subscriptions arriving at expected intervals.

Today, subscriptions are prevalent in nearly every corner of the ecommerce sector. A few examples that have made subscription boxes a household name include:

  • Food: Meal-kit companies such as Home Chef, Blue Apron and Imperfect Foods have found success delivering pre-made grub. There are also many wine and coffee-based subscription boxes.
  • Beauty: Birchbox may have been the first company in this space, but it certainly isn’t the only one. Dollar Shave Club is another company that has been successful in providing monthly personal care packages targeted to male consumers.
  • Clothing: The most well-known clothing subscription box seller is Stitch Fix, but a quick Google search shows a plethora of fashion subscriptions boxes for men, women and children.

Research indicates that this industry will continue its incredible growth and upward trajectory. What does it mean for ecommerce merchants? As emerging technology changes how small businesses, batch producers and other online shops expand, many are curious to know how to implement a subscription. To sell subscriptions on Shopify, strategic business decisions to help amplify growth potential are critical.

Subscription models can be complex, thus, having a well-developed plan before launching a subscription program is ideal. Many Shopify merchants begin generating recurring revenue by selling subscription boxes.

Key Benefits of Subscription Boxes

Keep in mind, subscriptions are a popular feature for recurring revenue models, but certainly not the only method for establishing a subscription business. Still, subscription box businesses have successfully carved out a niche in popular culture and many Shopify merchants are looking to capitalize on the benefits.

There are four main benefits of subscription boxes, no matter what your boxes contain:

  • Streamlined and predictable shipping: Shipping boxes regularly helps streamline the fulfillment process and keeps costs consistently low period-over-period.
  • Easily predictive revenue: The consistent, recurring nature of subscriptions makes it straightforward to anticipate future revenue. This can help with budgeting, capital allocation and cash flow for other areas of the business.
  • Revenue/profit per customer: The automated repeat purchase model of the subscription box has been shown to significantly increase profit per customer and customer lifetime value.
  • Happy, returning customers: Subscription boxes, if done well, can build immense customer loyalty. You can delight your customers by either introducing them to new products or replenishing necessary goods, therefore building loyalty and reducing the likelihood of cancellations.

 And while delivering a quality product can be used to grow business, the explosion of ecommerce is modifying how customers purchase.

Key Features That Excite Subscription Customers

Today, a customer’s experience is geared toward an ongoing, multi-touch relationship. Subscription models are an answer to this evolving trend, as they offer key features that consumers have come to expect.

These expectations can address a few different goals, including:

  • Exclusive access to products: Some customers subscribe to get direct-to-consumer products they normally could not access in stores.
  • Free trials: Consumers want the freedom to test and try products before committing to a subscription.
  • Subscription self-management: Consumers want to pause, restart or edit their subscriptions from an easy-to-use portal.

Sell Subscriptions on Shopify: Create A Strategy

In order to be successful in selling subscriptions on Shopify, you’ll want to first start with the basics of your subscription model, including:

  • Contents
  • Frequency
  • Price

What products will be in your subscription offer? Will it be new products or replenishing the same product? How frequently will you be delivering your products? Will you have a minimum commitment period or a free trial period?

Promoting and marketing your subscriptions is equally as crucial. For many customers, subscriptions are a long-term commitment, and so there’s a higher bar subscription companies must meet to attract new customers.

Tried-and-true marketing methods for subscriptions include social proof (such as partnering with influencers), using social media and search engine ads effectively and adding value to your subscription offers through free shipping, discounts, surprise sample products and more.

Subscription merchant

Building Subscription Businesses Through Shopify

Shopify is a major ecommerce platform that many businesses leverage to help launch and sell products. With ecommerce thriving and subscription models accelerating, Shopify merchants are looking toward integrative applications that can help easily sell subscriptions.

In order to set up a subscription business, you’re going to need to integrate a subscription application with your Shopify store. Shopify subscription apps add functionality to your store through a few different features:

  • Flexible subscription options
  • Storing subscription information
  • Generating recurring orders

Optimizing ecommerce business may mean making a shift to a subscription business model where merchants can lower costs for acquisition and increase customer retention.

Image depicting a Shopify store to sell subscriptions

Creating the Right Setup for Subscriptions

Launching and growing a subscription program on Shopify and Shopify Plus can initially feel challenging without the right tools to streamline the process. Merchants need apps and software that can help them find faster methods of creating membership programs with easy-to-use billing and fast setup.

The Subscriptions app simplifies how businesses sell subscriptions on Shopify. Easily configure and launch subscription offers for multiple products in minutes, while also managing subscriptions directly within the Shopify Product display page. Subscriptions gives Shopify merchants the ability to offer custom options for discounts, trials, product management and more — all to generate recurring revenue and scale your business in a snap.

Learn more about selling subscriptions through Shopify.

Shopify subscriptions offer

Start Selling Subscriptions on Shopify With $0 Monthly Platform Fees

Shopify merchants can install the application in a few clicks to quickly get started building customer bonds and making steady subscription income.

Our limited-time offer lets you use the Subscriptions app for Shopify and pay $0 monthly platform fees for the first six months. The offer is good through December 31, 2022. Terms and conditions apply. Get started today.