Bearing in mind the market for ecommerce subscriptions – or ‘subscription boxes’ – was barely even a thing a decade ago, it’s remarkable how steep its growth has been over just five years or so.
According to Fuel by McKinsey, for example, subscription ecommerce sales in the United States amounted to about $1.2 billion in 2014, but as of this year, could now be worth as much as $10 billion or more.
A convenience to merchants and shoppers alike
In an era in which many of us enjoy subscriptions to services that are so convenient, we barely even think about them – think the likes of Netflix, Spotify and mobile phone contracts – it shouldn’t really be difficult to understand the appeal of ecommerce subscriptions for all parties involved.
When there are certain products that the customer consistently purchases from one month to the next, but which they may also easily forget about amid the rush of their day-to-day and week-to-week lives, being able to place a single order for a subscription – and then no longer think about it – is likely to entice them.
As for the merchant thinking of making the most of the subscription ecommerce model, meanwhile, nothing is sweet music to them quite as much as the customer saying, “here are my payment details – just bill me to keep on delivering the same product, month after month.”
In a world in which customers who rely on remembering to place repeat orders manually could easily forget to do so one month or simply drift towards other suppliers of that product, it’s really handy to be able to ‘lock them in’ by getting them to commit to a subscription with your store.
After all, it touches at the heart of what so many ecommerce store owners are anxious to do today; cultivate loyalty from their customers, and in the process, maximise the lifetime value (LTV) that they gain from the average customer.
And of course, you’ll want to up your store’s LTV figures if you are to achieve serious growth.
What if you have doubts about the relevance of subscriptions to your store?
This is an understandable objection; after all, you might simply think your online store doesn’t offer the kind of products or services that lend themselves well to a subscription model.
Subscriptions can, though, still be used in non-traditional ways – such as for exclusive clubs where subscribers may get early access to new product releases, invitations to events, discounts or other perks or bonuses.
If you are unsure whether subscriptions may be applicable to your own ecommerce store and would like to explore the possibilities for adding them to your brand’s arsenal, don’t hesitate to contact the Underwaterpistol team for your free consultation.
But how can you bolster your chances of growth through subscriptions?
Well, having the right subscriptions app or partner will certainly help. Unfortunately, as wonderful as Shopify and Shopify Plus are, the core product doesn’t – in itself – allow for the recurring charges that are necessary if your store is to pursue a subscription model.
Dedicated software, or subscription apps, that is fully integrated into Shopify, however, such as ReCharge, can help you to make this possible. Indeed, when you work with Underwaterpistol, our technical partners will integrate to provide a joined-up approach to subscription and loyalty without making everything overwhelmingly ‘techy’.
With its features ranging from the easy management of all orders via the Shopify dashboard, right through to secure payments and the ability for shoppers to place both one-time products and subscription products in the same cart, ReCharge could provide a great foundation for your store’s growth on the back of ecommerce subscriptions.
However, there’s so much more that you could do to make such a subscription model a bedrock for the success of your Shopify store. Ensuring the uniqueness of your products or services that you are offering on a subscription basis, maintaining the best possible quality-to-price ratio and understanding the specific tastes and expectations of customers in your sector will all help to discourage shoppers from unsubscribing, thereby boosting retention.
Remember, after all, that the longer each subscription lasts, the more profitable it will be, which will do wonders for your ecommerce store’s LTV and long-term growth.
The different forms of subscription that you could try
Different subscription models often suit different types of store when it comes to cultivating the loyalty desired from customers.
You could, for instance, opt for a ‘subscribe and save’ model for your store, which is ideal for consumables such as common kitchen and bathroom products that need to be replenished regularly, thereby bringing considerable potential cost savings over time for customers.
There is also, of course, the option of a standard subscription box model, where the box is predetermined each month for every customer. This is an excellent model for gift givers, and is ideal for stores that sell many SKUs of complementary products.
Then, there are the more exclusive and customised membership models, which are especially appropriate for products with a lower repeat purchase frequency, such as fashion and apparel. Such a model provides the option to offer gated pages – content, product or otherwise – on-site that only customers designated as active subscribers can access. When this model is used, the monthly membership fee can be translated into monthly store credit that doesn’t expire.
The loyalty structures that you use can vary too, of course, with the possibilities here including a points system, referrals or an exclusive VIP tier.
Talk to the Shopify Plus experts in London that you can trust
The subscription ecommerce market may have come a long way in a short time, but there is also little sign that it has yet peaked; indeed, Fuel by McKinsey has signalled an expectation that the market is primed for continued growth.
To tap into the potential of this model for your own store’s growth objectives, then, it makes sense to work alongside the right Shopify Plus experts in London.
Give the Underwaterpistol team a call today, so that with our help, you can embark on one of the most transformative experiences your brand may have ever undergone.