Subscriptions are the holy grail of eCommerce, with the power to extend customer lifetime value and lock in some reliable recurring revenue from your biggest fans. Subscription customers are also likely your most loyal customer base, and knowing that can help you market to them and get insights to drive your strategy moving forward.
What are subscriptions in eCommerce?
Subscription models are when a customer signs up to receive items or a service on a regular schedule from a brand. These are common in industries like beauty items, groceries, digital content, and other consumables.
The following are good examples of eCommerce subscriptions you may have heard of before:
- A beauty brand that sends out a monthly box of samples to encourage customers to try new items from different lines. Customers might sign up for this service as a “discover your next favorite” pitch.
- A vitamin company that sends a new set of vitamins around the time that the consumer’s initial set is about to run out. Customers might sign up for this service to “set it and forget it” when it comes to reordering vitamins.
- Feminine care products that are replenished quarterly for the next few months to come. Customers might sign up for this subscription as part of a pitch to “never run out when you need it” surrounding monthly feminine products.
- Snack food sellers who compile a monthly box of assorted snacks, sometimes from different regions or countries. Customers might sign up for this service after a pitch to “discover the flavors of the world, all from your living room.”
- A surprise box that follows certain themes. For example, a novelty goods company that curates interesting baubles from different popular hobbies, sent to their subscribers. These could be focused on a particular TV show like Bob’s Burgers, or a country or experience, like traveling to Amsterdam.
Why subscriptions are the holy grail of eCommerce
ReCharge has found that existing customers are 50% more likely to make a purchase than a net new customer, and spend 33% more money. When you combine repeat purchases with higher cart values, you get a better customer lifetime value (CLV).
eCommerce is a CLV game, because a high CLV optimizes your revenue while cutting down on new customer acquisition costs. Subscriptions help you improve CLV and your marketing in a number of ways.
A subscription program helps you retain customers who might otherwise forget to reorder, or forget your brand and go to a competitor instead. These programs strengthen brand recall, brand loyalty, and boost your bottom line. It also helps to ensure recurring revenue from shoppers who would have otherwise dropped off.
Customers who opt-in to subscription services are your ideal customers. They are fans of your business — enough so to opt-in to a recurring charge and continuous product — which means you want to target more customers exactly like them. Knowing this, you can send out surveys or conduct interviews to learn more about them, create a special segment for your marketing newsletter that targets them, send out review requests asking them to share their feedback, and prompt them to join an affiliate or referral program to reach more of their networks.
3 Amazing subscription apps to use in your store
To help you offer subscriptions on your store, we’re covering three of the most popular subscription apps in the eCommerce space. We’ll go over a quick introduction to each, the benefits, and pricing where available.
ReCharge is on a mission to reinvent eCommerce payments. Merchants can install ReCharge and then set it up alongside their existing tech stack and payment method. ReCharge allows customers to quickly and easily select a recurring order upon adding items to their cart, creating a subscription plan in just a few clicks. Their service helps to increase lifetime value and customer engagement, and allows shoppers to combine one-time purchases alongside subscriptions in a single cart.
In addition to their recurring billing engine, they also provide native discount, tax, and shipping software, integrations with popular eCommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce, and an API merchants can use to install ReCharge in their custom-built stores. They support popular payment processors like Stripe, Braintree, and Authorize.net, and different payment methods like credit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and more.
ReCharge also notifies your customers when their cards expire, can securely store payment information, reprocess failed payments, and can pre-authorize transactions.
Merchants can create workflows to trigger unique post-purchase campaigns, and customers have their own portals to reschedule deliveries or swap out products to increase CLV.
Starts at $0 per month with a 1% + 10¢ fee per transaction. Pro plan available for $300 per month with a 1% + 19¢ fee per transaction.
PayWhirl is a flexible subscription payment software that allows merchants to sell subscriptions, enable payment plans, book pre-orders, and more. Merchants can customize their carts, emails, and invoices while turning on subscriptions alongside one-time payments.
PayWhirl allows for multiple account managers, so your team can collaborate to divide and conquer any analysis or management. The tool supports one-time payments in addition to subscriptions, and works with debit and credit cards, ACH, Stripe, Braintree, Shopify, BigCommerce, and more.
Merchants can just copy and paste a line of code into their websites to access subscriptions, or they can build something customized with the PayWhirl API. Every connection is secured with TLS 1.2 cryptographic protocol and meets current PCI-compliant security standards, and they use encrypted tokens that help ensure data security for your customers.
Starts at $0 per month with a 3% fee per transaction. Business plans available for $49 per month and 2% per transaction, $149 per month and 1.0% per transaction, and $249 per month and 0.5% per transaction.
The main feature of Bold Commerce is their seamless checkout API that allows merchants to customize their shopping experience and launch their stores more quickly with pre-built templates for payment, tax, fraud, and shipping integrations. Their tool allows merchants to manage pricing across channels in one convenient location, offer tiered pricing based on customer profiles and behavior, and add VIP pricing to their stores.
For this article, our main focus is their subscription product that helps to boost CLV while maintaining recurring revenue with custom onboarding sequences and a tailored customer portal.
Bold Commerce’s subscription APIs work with different platforms, such as commercetools, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce. Their APIs and webhooks allow merchants to create unique rulesets, checkout flows, and subscriber portals. Use Bold Commerce to sell recurring products, build-a-box, mystery boxes, memberships, and more, or create your own custom subscription offering.
Bold Commerce also gives your customers control over their subscriptions, helping to extend CLV and user experience. Shoppers can edit, pause, skip, or manage their upcoming orders. Plus, merchants can build cancellation flows to reduce churn and keep subscribers.
Must contact sales.
Wrapping up – Why add subscriptions to your store
Subscriptions are a must-have for every eCommerce seller who wants to boost their CLV and customer experience with recurring sales. Depending on the type of product and industry, you can use subscriptions to introduce new products, replenish food or cosmetics, and delight your shoppers.