How to Launch and Grow a Subscription Program on Shopify: Get Started Fast
At Simplistic, we consistently talk about—and obsess over—conversion rate optimization (CRO) and retention marketing. Infact, every successful Shopify shop we’ve consulted has mastered these two practices to assure long-term success and growth.
CRO defines how many people who land on your site take an action and make a purchase. Retention marketing entails keeping customers engaged and coming back to make new purchases with you in the future.
We’ve written about both retention marketing and CRO before and while there are numerous ways to improve these practices, there’s only one surefire method for guaranteeing both customer retention and the ability to convert the same group of customers again and again: a subscription program.
Benefits of subscription programs
The reality of a cluttered online space is that winning a new customer can cost 5-10x as much as keeping an existing customer.
A subscription model establishes a convenient set-it-and-forget relationship with customers who use your products on a recurring basis. Subscriptions allows your business to more easily predict revenue streams, manage inventory and supply, and plan shipments on exact dates.
Knowing how much of a product is needed, where the product is going, and when it needs to be delivered removes friction points and automates some of the tiny operations involved with fulfilling customer orders.
Convenience and automation aside, repeat customers spend 67% more than new ones, which is always better for business.
Subscriptions tend to forge deeper, richer relationships with customers who become increasingly loyal to your brand and products. These loyal customers are likely to actively recommend your brand to others, essentially becoming a free marketing channel for your brand.
Subscription models are growing industry-side. According to EMarketer, subscription models shot up by 41% during the pandemic and the subscription market is expected to inflate to $478 billion by 2025.
Types of subscription programs
Depending on your product or service, there are several types of subscription programs to consider to best serve your customers.
A replenishment model works best for products that periodically run out such as shaving cream, soaps, skincare products, beverages, vitamins, panty items, and pet food. If your product is used daily or weekly and gradually diminishes, then consider building this type of model. We implemented a replenishment model with our client Ritual, so they could swiftly deliver monthly vitamins to repeat customers.
For customers who love your brand and already keep coming back, you may want to offer an access or membership subscription model. In this model, a customer pays a monthly premium to have exclusive access to discounts, special offers, and even new product launches before others.
A curated subscription involves creating a personalized package for customers who want to regularly receive a bundle of your products. Clothing and apparel brands have found success offering curated subscription boxes to customers who fill out their styling preferences and are shipped a customized box of products.
How to launch a killer subscription program
Here is our recommended approach for launching a subscription program on Shopify.
Step 1: Choose a subscription model
First, identify whether a replenishment, access/membership, or curated subscription model will best serve your customers. Once you have a model in mind, start analyzing customer behaviors and product insights on your Shopify dashboard. These insights will give you an understanding of your best-selling products or services and how frequently your average customer purchases them.
With this information in mind, you can design the framework for how your subscription will look and which products it will include. You may want to offer a subscription model for a single product or only for a bundle of products depending on your findings.
Step 2: Select a subscription management app
Shopify has partnered with the leading subscription apps and enabled them to integrate directly into your Shopify dashboard.
At Simplistic, we use Recharge as our preferred subscription building application for clients of varying backgrounds. Recharge lets you quickly build a subscription model into your existing site and integrates with all the major payment processors.
Recharge gives you the freedom to design customizable subscription offerings so customers can swap out products, adjust the frequency of their subscription, and even skip or pause deliveries as needed.
Right now, there are 8 popular subscription management apps to choose from that integrate directly into Shopify. Some of these offer a large spectrum of functionalities, while others home in on one aspect of building a subscription model.
Step 3: Manage, track, grow
Once you have a subscription in place, let it run for a few months and track how it performs. Are customers mentioning the program in positive or negative reviews? Is your program steadily growing?
Keep your eye on critical statistics and how they change according to your subscription program such as:
- Monthly recurring revenue
- Customer acquisition costs and recovery time
- Customer lifetime value
- Churn rate
Create memorable call-to-actions to encourage customers to try out your subscription program and splay these across your site on important landing pages.
To incentivize sign ups, offer price discounts and other exclusive benefits to customers who subscribe.
Need help preparing for launch?
If you have a rough idea for how your subscription model could look but you aren’t sure how to set it up for success, we’re happy to help you sort out the details and get your program launched.
We’ve got a whole team of Shopify experts who help online shop owners implement subscription programs big and small.