How To Set Up A Winning Subscription Model For Your eCommerce Store

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To make your subscription business a success, it is important to set it up right. 

And by setting it up right, it means to make sure you have all the essential elements, features, and aspects covered. Right from determining whether or not a subscription model is suitable for your products/services, to having all the important features in place to ensure consistent innovative updates – there’s a lot that takes to set up an efficient subscription model.

If you’re new to ecommerce subscriptions and missed our previous lessons, check them out here for all the basics

Steps to set up a subscription model for your Shopify store

Determine if a subscription model is suitable for your business

For businesses, subscription / recurring revenue models are enticing as they offer so many benefits. But subscription models are not meant for all types of products and services. 

For example, if you’re selling wedding clothes and accessories, a subscription model would not  make sense for your business. 

But, if you sell items such as toys, books, groceries, condiments, etc, a subscription model could work wonders!. These are items that customers buy on a regular basis, and hence, would work for subscriptions.

You can learn more about different products/ services that make for good ecommerce subscriptions here

Create your subscription model

To put in place your subscription model, first you’ll have to choose a subscription model. There are different types of subscription models such as replenishment model, curation, bargain or access subscription model, fixed subscription model, and pay as you go.

 Once you choose the subscription model type that suits your products/ services, you’ll have to create different plans to offer your products/ services.

 Then, you’ll have to determine the pricing. Your pricing should factor in all sorts of expenses such as packaging, storage, delivery, marketing, profit margin, etc. 

 If you’re not sure where to begin, you can reach out to our ecommerce and subscription experts, here.

Functionalities

When you set up a subscription model for your eCommerce store, you’d want to ensure it has all functionalities. Let’s see what are the different functionalities that are offered in subscriptions. 

 Subscription set up functions

Setting up subscriptions should be easy and seamless for stores! For customers, signing up for recurring orders or subscriptions should be hassle-free, and intuitive! Customers should be able to conveniently sign up across multiple channels such as website, mobile, app, etc.

 Manage customer account/details

Customers might need to update their personal details such as address, contact, etc, mid-way of an on-going subscription contract. Your subscriptions app/tool must have easy functions to manage customer details.

 Product forms

The product form allows customers to select their subscriptions. Here, you can provide options and details of your products and services that customers can choose from. Product forms should provide information about all the product variants available.

Save payment methods

Customers are going to make recurring payments to you, for each recurring order or delivery they receive. One of the best ways to manage payments for subscriptions, is to save their payment methods. That way, customers won’t have to add payment details every time they make payments.

For Shopify stores, the payment details are stored with Shopify! Appstle Subscriptions processes the payments with a seamless and in-depth backend integration with Shopify checkout, but DOES NOT store your shoppers’ payment details.

Flexibility (to change subscription details)

One of the key features that can enhance subscription experience for customers, is flexibility! In subscriptions, you can allow customers to increase or decrease quantity, upgrade or downgrade their chosen plan (e.g. weekly deliveries to monehtly deliveries), change items (e.g. Starbucks French Roast K cups to Starbucks Sumatra K cups) or delivery date/time as per their needs. A strong subscriptions model has to provide for these functionalities, that typically directly flow from the subscriptions app you pick (as in the case of Appstle Subscriptions). 

Billing and invoicing

In subscription models, the billing is more complex than one-time sales models. Without a proper billing system, you might end up with errors and delays, which could end up in missed revenues, and/or frustrated customers. Proper billing is especially important when your subscription business is scaling. 

These functionalities are easy to have, when you have an ecommerce subscriptions app like Appstle. You can learn more about the app here.

Customer-facing UI 

When a customer tries to buy a subscription, you should make it easy for them to proceed to the next step, after every step. The same goes for how they manage their subscriptions. They should be easily able to place orders, make payments, and make use of the different features provided by you.

For example, think about how Amazon has made customers experience fast checkout every time they make a purchase. 

To avoid a subscriptions app fatigue, businesses have to consistently keep bug issues in check and handle glitches. At the same time, they also need to add innovative features to keep up with evolving customer experiences, and ease of placing orders.. 

A lack of intuitive and efficient UI may lead to customers cancelling their subscriptions, or be less interested in upgrading their orders. 

Upselling features

Subscriptions can get boring for customers after some time. The constant hussle, and abundant availability of a plethora of options in the market, does not make things easy either! These challenges can be overcome by a simple feature – ‘targeted upselling’.

What is upselling in subscriptions? ‘Upselling’ is when you try to sell something better, and of more value to your subscription customers. 

In subscriptions, upselling can be done in different ways:

  • Upsell an upgraded/ premium plan to customers. For example, selling premium plans to customers who are on the basic plan. This is more relevant to SaaS products and services such as Netflix!
  • Upsell new products that have recently been added to your inventory, to expand your customers’ familiarity with your products. It is an added benefit, if these products bring greater revenue and profit to your store (more high end). 
  • Upsell an added product or service to the existing plan. For example, if you are selling diaper subscriptions, you can upsell the diaper creams.

Support

Efficient customer support is key to the success of any business. One bad experience and unresolved issue can make customers cancel their subscriptions. 

When customers buy subscriptions, they too have certain expectations from the brand, because they know they’ve entered a long-term engagement with your brand. 

One of the most basic things shoppers expect from brands, is prompt and efficient customer support. Hence, when you set up a subscriptions app in your store, make sure you provide options for customers to contact you. You could use multiple communication channels, as well as have a dedicated live chat support in your subscriptions app.

Psst: If you set up your ecommerce subscription model with Appstle, you get access to 24x7x365 customer support from dedicated engineers (not bots!), to ensure your subscriptions run efficiently.

Pricing

There are a number of functions and features related to the pricing of subscription models that help enhance customers’ experience. 

Pricing is one of the most important factors of subscription businesses, because it helps acquire customers into the subscription model, extend the longevity of loyalty of existing subscribers, increase wallet share, and most importantly, reduce customer churn rate. A one-price-fits-all approach cannot work for all types of products and services. Hence, you require a system that is capable of managing complex pricing structures that include tiered discounts, pre-payments, loyalty points, etc. This will help get a competitive advantage.

How Appstle makes your subscription business easy

One of the best subscription apps out there – Appstle Subcriptions – offers all the functionalities discussed in this article, for an easy, robust, and efficient subscription set up. The set up is quick, and allows users to directly add subscription features from the product page. Users do not have to spend hours setting up the app.

Appstle helps Shopify stores that offer subscriptions, to enable customers to easily pause, edit, or skip deliveries, swap products, add new items, change delivery dates, or update payment details. This ensures a smooth and seamless customer experience.

Appstle’s easy and secure checkout integrates with Shopify checkout, enabling a smooth billing, and mixed checkout. This way, you can process both – one-time purchases and subscription purchases together!

Customers canceling subscriptions is common. At such times, Appstle gets to work to find out why customers initiated a cancellation. The app also monitors failed transactions and its automated mechanism sends a notification to customers, and retries payment methods (based on rules set by you), so that you can revive lost sales.

Appstle enables you to send personalized and automated notifications to customers regarding their order, deliveries, payments, etc. This helps to keep customers engaged as well as informed, and provides you the opportunity to strategically promote new products. 

Every business needs to monitor performance, and so does the subscription business. Appstle provides a comprehensive dashboard with real-time updates and reports of customers, sales, etc. 

Conclusion

Getting your subscription model right from the start can help you build a business with a strong foundation. Along the way, you’d have to experiment, adapt, and stay flexible to meet customer demands. To all this and more with ease, you require the right kind of app. 

At Appstle, we build the platforms that help ecommerce businesses transition to subscription models with the right products.

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About the Author

Vanhishika Bhargava

Vanhishika Bhargava

Vanhishikha Bhargava is the Content Marketer for Appstle Solutions. You’ll always find her creating content or reading up on the industry with a cup of coffee in hand, which makes her anxious at times! But stay tuned for insightful pieces. Always.
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