This is the complete guide on how to sell more eCommerce subscriptions in 2022.
In this in-depth guide, you’ll learn:
- What are eCommerce subscriptions
- Types of eCommerce subscription businesses
- Benefits of an eCommerce subscription model
- 9 ways to sell more eCommerce subscriptions
Let’s jump right in.
What are eCommerce Subscriptions?
While it was first introduced to the world in the 1600s through newspapers and book publishers, subscriptions have become increasingly popular in the eCommerce space.
Although you can create a subscription experience for nearly every product or service, eCommerce retailers tend to focus on physical products.
For example, beauty, coffee, and nutrition products are perfect for eCommerce subscriptions because consumers need to replace them continuously.
Nonetheless, no matter what type of product you’re selling, there are strategies you can implement to boost sales and recurring revenue.
Any product that customers purchase on an ongoing basis is an eCommerce subscription. Therefore, the customer should be billed automatically after a certain time period, and the product should be automatically shipped to their home.
This is precisely how an eCommerce subscription model works.
Different Types of eCommerce Subscription Businesses
There are three primary forms of eCommerce subscription businesses.
- Subscribe and Save
Subscribe and Save is when you offer a discount when the customer pays for an ongoing subscription. For example, you can offer a 15% discount if the consumer subscribes to monthly packages for 6 months.
The curation subscription model is also known as a subscription box. It’s a curated box of uniquely hand-selected products that customers choose to receive every few weeks or months.
A membership subscription model is when you offer special discounts to members who subscribe to your eCommerce business. For example, wellness brand GNC offers a subscription program called myGNC PRO Access. Individuals who subscribe to myGNC Pro Access receive deep discounts, expedited shipping, and pre-sale access to new products. They also receive ‘swag boxes’ twice a year, filled with different goodies and supplements.
What are the Benefits of Subscription-Based eCommerce Business?
As you may already know, the primary benefit of a subscription-based eCommerce business is reliable, recurring revenue. Since a subscription guarantees future payments, you can better forecast and predict revenue. Furthermore, recurring revenue offers stable cash flow so you can expand your eCommerce business in other ways.
Subscription-based eCommerce businesses also increase customer lifetime value (CLV). Rather than spending heaps of ad dollars attracting a single sale from someone who won’t shop again at your store, a subscription converts one-time customers into lifelong customers.
As long as your consumers want and need your product on an ongoing basis, you can extract more value from each customer you win over.
Although there are many other advantages to subscription-based businesses, these are the two fundamental benefits. Additional benefits include easy-to-manage inventory, excellent return on marketing investment, brand loyalty, and a lowered customer churn rate.
In essence, subscription-based eCommerce businesses provide stable cash flow, greater profitability, and opportunities for future growth.
9 Effective Ways to Sell More eCommerce Subscriptions
At this point, it should be clear as to why it’s important to sell more eCommerce subscriptions. For example, rather than receiving $30 from a one-time customer, the same customer could pay hundreds of dollars over the course of a year for an excellent subscription offer.
Now, if you were able to convert hundreds or thousands of would-be one-time customers into subscribers, you’d be able to grow your eCommerce store exponentially.
So, let’s discuss 9 practical ways you can sell more eCommerce subscriptions.
1. Determine Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Before you can sell more eCommerce subscriptions, you have to put together the perfect subscription. Therefore, you need to determine your eCommerce brand’s unique selling proposition and how you stand out.
For example, most people who purchase eCommerce subscriptions want:
- Value (discounts and low prices)
- Convenience (quick and automatic deliveries)
- Personalization (ability to customize subscription packages)
Your job is to research what type of subscription experiences are in the same niche as you and what value they offer to their subscribers. This way, you can determine how to make your eCommerce subscription even better.
Successful eCommerce subscriptions are all about having the right product and offer. Since I can’t change the products you’re selling, I can guide you to creating the best offer possible.
For example, if you’re selling an innovative nutrition supplement, you should cater your entire website to showing the benefits of your supplement. This way, potential customers can learn why your product is beneficial for their health and why they need to purchase a subscription to continue taking your supplement on an ongoing basis.
Finding your USP allows you to focus on the core component of why your brand stands out. In addition, it will help you create a clear offer and value proposition for potential customers.
At its core, your job is to define the niche you’re filling. If your value proposition is too broad, you’ll leave potential customers confused and unmotivated to learn more about your products.
2. Make a Simple and Beautiful Homepage
Now that you’ve crafted your unique selling proposition, you can start to re-design your website based on your eCommerce brand’s competitive edge.
I’ll go through three different landing pages from successful subscription-based eCommerce businesses. The key theme to remember when building your website is to keep things simple but beautiful. If your website is too complex, there will be too many distractions pulling your visitors away from the real goal of capturing the sale.
Example 1: Scentbird
Scentbird is a subscription-based eCommerce business that helps members find their signature fragrance. Instead of sending full bottles of cologne or perfume, Scentbird sends a miniature vial each month that’s good for 120 sprays.
As you can see, Scentbird’s landing page is simple yet luxurious. The banner image shows what the vial looks like and the type of people who wear Scentbird’s designer scents.
I recommend using a single-banner image like Scentbird, not a carousel or gallery. Remember, the goal is simple yet beautiful. You want visitors to focus on one thing, which is your product and why they need it.
Example 2: Humann
Here’s another example from Humann, an online subscription-based supplement company.
As you can see, Humann uses a high-quality product image with a beautiful background and layout. Furthermore, they display their best-selling product, SuperBeets.
Example 3: Birchbox
Here’s a third example from Birchbox, an eCommerce subscription company that sells beauty and grooming products.
Once again, we see a sleek and beautiful banner image creatively displaying the products. That should be the goal of your banner image. To show off your products with a high-quality image.
Furthermore, I recommend going to each of these websites individually and viewing all the elements they include on their homepage.
In general, your homepage should include sections for:
- Best selling products
- Product categories
- Social proof
- Information about your subscription service
3. Social Proof is Everything
In the modern digital age, online shoppers are more cautious when ordering from a website for the first time. Therefore, they may look for social proof through customer testimonials, product reviews, and media mentions.
Feel free to review those guides after you finish reading this one.
In essence, social proof gives first-time visitors the confidence to trust your products and business. For example, if a product has excellent reviews and in-depth summaries of the product experience, a first-time visitor is likelier to purchase your products.
Let’s discuss three ways of improving your eCommerce subscription store’s social proof.
Media mentions are when you display the logo and a quote from a media outlet that’s mentioned your brand.
Here’s an example from Scentbird:
As you can see, Scentbird proudly displays media mentions from reputable outlets such as Vogue, Glamour, Esquire, BuzzFeed, and Forbes. These are all highly-trusted media outlets with great brand recognition. Therefore, first-time website visitors are more likely to trust Scentbird when they see these media mentions.
Although you may think getting media mentions from these outlets is impossible, this isn’t the case. You can hire a media agency with connections to the top media outlets. Then, the agency will help you create your brand story and pitch it to various media outlets.
Brand Review Summary
You can also include a precise brand review summary on your homepage.
Here’s an example from Humann:
This section sits directly on Humann’s homepage. It uses specific numbers by stating they have over 58,000 5-star ratings and reviews. They also explain how their products are available in over 4,700 retail locations and are used by over 120 professional and college sports teams.
This is a lot of unique information most subscription-based companies don’t supply. By offering this information on the homepage, you can quickly build trust with first-time visitors and prove you sell reputable products.
Social proof is all about building as much trust with your visitors as possible. This way, they are comfortable and confident subscribing to your eCommerce subscription packages.
Individual Product Reviews
Product reviews are essential in the current online shopping environment. Most people won’t even purchase products from a website if the product doesn’t have excellent reviews.
In essence, you must proactively reach out and reward customers who leave reviews for your products.
Here’s an example of a product review section from Humann:
As you can see, this product has over 3,000 reviews. Although you don’t need thousands of reviews for each product, more reviews establish more trust.
Furthermore, each reviewer has a tag labeled ‘Verified Buyer’. This tag indicates these are real customers who have purchased the product in the past. A simple ‘Verified Buyer’ tag boosts social proof and trust even more.
Let’s compare Humann’s product reviews with Scentbird’s product reviews:
If these websites sold the same products, which website would you be more willing to trust? The store with hundreds to thousands of positive product reviews or the store with only a handful?
The store with more positive product reviews will win every time.
You can also add customer testimonials on your homepage and product pages to build more social proof.
Here’s an example from Humann:
As you can see, the image displays a customer happily enjoying the product. Furthermore, the customer testimonial showcases a genuine quote from the purchaser.
Adding a picture to a customer testimonial humanizes your brand and paints a positive image in each visitor’s mind.
4. Create Stellar Product Pages
If your subscription model is based on individual products, it’s imperative to create highly-detailed product pages.
Let’s discuss all the elements a well-made product page includes.
High-Quality Product Images
Your first step is to provide high-quality product images. But before you take your products to a professional studio, we recommend re-designing your product packages, if necessary.
Product presentation is very important, and a well-designed package or container can add immense value to your products.
In truth, the online shopping experiences we face can sometimes feel impersonal. Without any physical locations to go to and employees to meet, a poorly branded eCommerce store may seem cold and unappealing to shoppers.
To compensate, you can create extraordinary product packages that are thoughtfully and professionally designed. This way, you give your customers a warm and exciting unboxing experience that they’ll remember.
This type of packaging usually comes in bold colors and fonts that leave customers feeling happy and energized.
Here’s an example of professional product images from Humann:
As you can see, the product images are professionally shot and have a gray background to provide a more premium feel. I recommend taking your products to a professional studio and brainstorming a plan with the photographer to create the best product photos possible.
Key Points and Product Summary
In addition to professional product images, you need to include a product summary at the top of the product page. This section should contain the key benefits and features of your product.
Here’s an example from Humann:
As you can see, Humann provides a quick summary and a few bullet points.
Well-Designed Subscription Box
Next, your subscription box sits underneath the product summary.
Here’s another example from the same product page as above:
This subscription box section from Humann is well-designed and easy to understand. The customer can clearly see how much money they save when opting for the subscription.
In-Depth Product Description
You should include an in-depth product description underneath the subscription box. This is where you describe every detail and benefit your product provides.
Here’s a continued example from the same Humann product page:
This section starts with a few key points on the product and moves into a section on how the product works.
They continue offering useful information in the form of science-backed research.
Humann’s product description section also has a testimonial from a PhD sports nutrition researcher.
In addition to all the product details above, Humann also has an FAQ section for each product.
Here’s what it looks like:
Adding an FAQ section eliminates most questions potential customers have about your product. This way, they can subscribe to your product without needing to inquire for more information.
The goal of a product page is to answer any questions a potential customer may have about your product. Once they finish reading your product page, they should have a complete understanding of why your product is beneficial, how to use your product, and what makes your product different from others.
5. Explain the Benefits of Subscribing Clearly
The best way to gain more eCommerce subscribers is to lay out the benefits. This way, potential customers fully understand why it’s beneficial to subscribe and why it’s worth their money.
Here’s an example from Dollar Shave Club:
First, Dollar Shave Club explains how subscribers get access to the entire product line. Therefore, non-subscribers can’t purchase every product they may want.
Second, Dollar Shave Club explains how the customer is always in control. Dollar Shave Club offers flexible delivery dates, no hidden fees, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Furthermore, subscribers can cancel anytime and have access to Club Pros to answer specific product and grooming questions.
Third, Dollar Shave Club explains the additional perks of subscribing and joining the club. Subscribers receive exclusive savings at Dollar Shave Club, birthday gifts, and additional offers.
6. Offer Multiple Subscription Options
No matter what subscription-based model you offer, you should provide several subscription package options.
For example, Birchbox offers prepaid plans and monthly billing plans.
A prepaid plan is an upfront payment of the entire subscription, while monthly billing is a monthly recurring fee, like Netflix.
Within each payment plan are additional plans based on how long a customer wants to subscribe. As you can see, the prepaid plans offer three, six, and 12-month durations. The monthly billing plans offer monthly, three-month, six-month, and year durations.
I recommend offering short-term and long-term subscriptions as Birchbox does. You can offer steeper discounts on longer-term subscriptions to make them more enticing.
7. Provide Helpful Product Categories
It would be best if you made it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Each visitor has their own unique needs, so providing helpful product categories is an effective way of creating a better user experience.
Here’s a great example from Humann:
Humann has a section on their homepage dedicated to product categories. This product category section is easy-to-click or press on a mobile device and has beautiful icons. Furthermore, Humann categorizes their products by health benefits. This way, their visitors can easily find a supplement for the problem they want to solve.
Creating an excellent user experience will increase your subscription rate dramatically. Furthermore, user experience (UX) is all about the quality of a user’s interaction with your website and how well it functions.
It should be effortless for potential visitors to find what they’re looking for without needing to browse around your website.
8. Write High-Value Blog Posts
No matter what niche your eCommerce store competes in, you can write high-value blog posts. Creating a useful blog is an excellent strategy to build customer loyalty and trust.
For example, if you’re selling nutrition supplements, you can write blog posts around healthy lifestyle tips and nutrition advice.
Here’s an example from Birchbox:
Named The Magazine, Birchbox’s blog revolves around beauty and skincare guides.
Think about it like this.
Anybody who enters Birchbox’s website is clearly interested in taking care of their skin and appearance. Therefore, it’s safe to assume these visitors are also interested in learning more about skincare and beauty.
Offering free and actionable skincare advice is a great way for Birchbox to gain lifelong supporters and recurring visitors. If potential customers read a blog post and learn something new and useful, they are much more likely to trust your brand and subscribe to your products.
Here are some more examples of blog posts from Birchbox:
The ultimate goal of your blog is to provide real advice based on real experiences. It would be best if you only wrote about topics you’re well-informed about.
This is because there are probably already dozens of articles on the internet on the same topic you write about. For this reason, the only way to stand out is to provide better advice than your competitors.
9. Explain How Your Subscription Service Works
It will be challenging to make sales if your customers don’t understand how your subscription service works.
Since they will be committing to a long-term contract, you must explain how your subscription service works in clear terms.
Here’s an example from Scentbird:
As you can see, Scentbird explains how their subscription service works in three simple steps. This way, customers fully understand what they’re opting into if they subscribe.
However, your subscription-based model may be different. Therefore, you need to explain how your subscription service works on your own terms for your specific website.
We understand how difficult it is to capture subscriptions. Most people aren’t going to subscribe to a new website they just found easily.
Providing as much clarity as you can around your subscription packages is an effective way of driving more subscribers into your business.
I hope you found this guide helpful and are now on your way to selling more eCommerce subscriptions. A successful subscription-based eCommerce business offers excellent cash flow, amazing profitability, and future sustainability and growth.
Rather than implementing each strategy at once, I recommend slowly adding each strategy one by one. This way, you can customize each strategy to your own eCommerce store and see which ones product results.
But now I’d love to hear from you!
Which strategy from today’s guide will you implement first? Do you have any additional questions about eCommerce subscriptions?
Let me know by dropping a quick comment below.