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Should You Be Offering Subscriptions On Your Online Store?

It seems these days that everyone is telling you what to do on your own store.

You should be offering more products, change up your theme, switch platforms, or install a “must-have” app (that they’re selling of course). But the one thing we see most often on ecommerce blogs is people telling you that you should be offering subscriptions on your store. And with subscriptions tripling the lifetime value of your customers, why wouldn’t you want to get a piece of that action. But not all subscription models are created equal, and not all businesses would benefit from offering their products on a recurring basis.

What is a subscription model?

Rather than making a one-time purchase, a subscription model offers your customers the opportunity to buy your products on a recurring basis. You can offer them weekly, monthly, or whatever frequency works best for you and your customers.

Take Dollar Shave Club for example. They sell no-fuss razors, delivered to your door every month for only $1.00. No really, only $1! And this straightforward business model, combined with a viral marketing campaign, led to Dollar Shave Club being sold to Unilever for a $1 billion purchase price.


Is a subscription model right for my store?

Razors are something that people purchase all the time, so it makes sense to sell them on a recurring basis. But even if your store sells something that doesn’t typically get purchased repetitively, that doesn’t mean your store can’t offer subscriptions. You just have to be smart about it.

If you can make it work: do it!

Things that people purchase frequently are a no-brainer for recurring shipments (think dog food, coffee, vitamins, makeup, etc.), but if you’re not sure if your products will work, take a look at some ideas below:

Selling apparel: Send your customers a surprise t-shirt based on their preferences every month, or start a sock of the month club, or underwear of the month… you get the idea.

Health food: Start a subscription box filled with healthy snack foods that you send out at the start of each new season.

Jewelry: Follow Pura Vida’s example and send your customers three exclusive pieces of jewelry every month.

Obviously it doesn’t work for everything. If you’re selling electronics, your customers probably won’t need a new tv every month. Same goes for furniture. But if you think your products will work, how do you pick what to sell?

pura vida bracelet subscription boxes

Using data to pick your products

fresh patch grass subscription boxesThe best subscription companies are based on real customer wants and needs, and the best way to determine that is to see what your customers are buying.

Your highest selling items are popular for a reason, so those products are a great place to start. Or if you’re thinking of starting a subscription box, take your top 3 most popular products and package them together!

The best subscription businesses are founded on real, expressed needs, not guesses or ideas that “sound cool.” Source.

The same works for choosing your delivery frequency as well. Take a look at how often customers are making repeat purchases, and use that as a starting point. Once you get started, you can always survey your customers to find out what works best for them and make adjustments as you go. Even better: offer multiple shipping options for customers to choose from!

Fresh Patch let’s you choose your frequency AND offers a discount when you subscribe!

Let’s see what you can do!

Subscription models are a great way to boost guaranteed income on your online store, and we’re excited to see what you come up with! Let us know what you decide to sell in the comments below.

And if you still want to learn more about selling subscriptions,  you can read more about offering subscriptions on your Shopify store using our Recurring Orders app by clicking here.


Melanie Fatouros-Richardson BW

Melanie Fatouros-Richardson is a Content Marketer at Bold Commerce, where she helps store owners grow their businesses. Follow along to learn more about eCommerce, and the best tips & tricks for selling online.

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