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Are Subscriptions Right for Your Shopify Store? 6 Questions to Ask Yourself
The Smartrr Take
The Smartrr Take

Are Subscriptions Right for Your Shopify Store? 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

The key considerations to determine if your Shopify store should implement subscriptions.

So you’re thinking about launching subscriptions for your Shopify store. We definitely understand why. 

The subscription model is absolutely dominating the eCommerce space and is only predicted to keep growing. The global subscription eCommerce market was valued at $96.61 billion in 2022 and is expected to skyrocket to $2,419.69 billion by 2028. 

With so many eCommerce businesses experiencing subscription success, we know it’s tempting for all merchants to go ahead and make the switch. Of course, as a Shopify subscription app, we are deeply acquainted with the many benefits of the subscription model and its incredible ability to scale brands. 

Having said that, before launching subscriptions, it’s important to consider if they really make sense for your eCommerce store. Brands that take the time to reflect and strategize prior to implementation are typically the ones that see the most success with recurring revenue. 

To help you decide if subscriptions are right for your Shopify store, we’re covering the 6 questions to ask yourself to determine if you have a subscribable product.

Righteous Felon Beef Jerky PDP

Should You Offer Subscriptions on Your Shopify Store? The 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

Just a note before we get to it — you don’t need to answer ‘yes’ to every single question below. Rather, these questions are designed to help you think about the many possible forms a subscription could take. And if none of these questions feel relevant to your brand, then subscriptions may not be right for your Shopify store. 

Now let’s dive in: 

Are my products designed for regular use? 

Okay, we’re starting off with an obvious one — but we’d be remiss not to include the most important question to ask: do consumers regularly use your product? Subscriptions usually work best with items that consumers interact with frequently (typically via a routine), like daily vitamins, coffee, or deodorant. 

Horsham Coffee PDP

In general, certain industries lend themselves to subscriptions more than others. Here are the spaces that typically see subscription success:

  • 💅🏻 Beauty
  • 💊 Health & Wellness
  • 🥤 Food & Beverage
  •  🐕 Pet Care
  • 🏠 Home, Garden, & Cleaning

More novelty items — like, say, fine china for special occasions — would obviously be far less conducive to a subscription offering. And then, of course, there are products that are typically designed for one-time use — like wedding gowns — that really wouldn’t make sense for subscriptions. 

Keep in mind that regular use doesn’t necessarily mean an item is a subscribable product. Many people use their vacuums frequently but aren’t likely to ever be interested in a vacuum subscription. 

Which brings us to our next question —  

Is my product (or part of my product) replaceable? 

Having some sort of replaceable element to your product is a fairly necessary requirement for subscriptions, but ‘replaceable’ can mean a lot of things. 

There’s the clear meaning — which is that the item runs out or wears out. Food, beverage, skincare, and other health/wellness brands would obviously fall under this ‘runs out’ category, while a razor head would fall under the ‘wears out’ category. 

Even if your main product isn’t replaceable, there might be components of said product that are — making that part of the product a great candidate for a subscription. 

Let’s go back to the vacuum example. While the physical vacuum itself only needs to be replaced every few years, the vacuum filters should be replaced every three to six months. This is a prime candidate for a sequential subscription, where the purchase of one item triggers a subscription to a complementary item. And that’s exactly how Airsign runs their subscription.

Airsign Vacuum filter subscription

Remember — subscriptions can work well with fun, exciting products, like build-a-box offerings. But they can also work really well with less glamorous but highly necessary items, like vacuum filters. 

And as we mentioned, ‘replaceable’ can mean something different to different people. Some consumers buy new clothes once a year and wear those clothes for ten years. Others hate wearing the same outfit twice and are constantly looking for ways to refresh their wardrobe — and this latter group is the reason there are so many successful subscription clothing brands. In other words, so long as you have an interested audience and know how to meet their needs, you’re good to go. 

Do I already see a lot of repeat purchases?

If you’re wondering whether you have a subscribable product on your hands, your data may already have the answer. This method can be a great way to either confirm that you could have a successful subscription overall or help identify a particular product that could work well with subscriptions. 

Take a look at the purchasing patterns of your current consumers and see if you already have a good number of repeat purchases. This is an excellent way to determine if you currently have an audience for subscriptions (and bonus note — these consumers can be the first people you target when you start to market your subscription offering).  

It’s good to remember that repeat buyers are worth 22x more than the average customer, and subscriptions are the ideal way to unlock these consumers’ full potential. 

Slate Milk Subscription PDP

Looking at your current buyers’ shopping patterns can also be a great way to identify ideal cadences. If you see repeat purchases spikes after one month, two months, and three months, those could be the three cadences that you start out with — and the most popular of the three can be your default. 

Does my brand already have a strong community or can I naturally foster one? 

Customer loyalty is one of the biggest drivers of subscription success. Boosting customer retention by just 5% has been shown to increase profits by as much as 95%, and generally speaking, more loyal customers will only continue to spend more and even spread the word about your brand. 

Why are we talking about loyalty in a section about community? Well, they’re highly related to one another, partially due to social proof. The more consumers are exposed to other consumers loving and engaging with your brand, the better they’ll feel about their own connection. 

And just as certain industries are more conducive to subscriptions than others, certain types of brands can foster community more naturally than others. People tend to easily create communities around beauty, health, and wellness brands. If you’re in one of these spaces and already see vibrant activity on your socials, great attendance at in-person events, high engagement in giveaways, etc., then that could signify that your brand would be a great fit for subscriptions. 

Joggy CBD Instagram

Joggy, an exercise-enhancing CBD brand, is an excellent example of a business that has fully leveraged community. They regularly host running events, engage their followers on social, and consult their audience on product development. As a result, they’ve seen their community grow and grow — and they’ve also seen loyalty spike, both of which have helped strengthen their subscription offering. 

Keep in mind that there are still creative ways to foster community even if your product doesn’t tend to be a community-centered product. Take dog food. While people don’t usually bond over kibble, there’s a lot of community to be found in how much people love their dogs. Sharing photos of your customers’ pets and hosting in-person puppy playdates would be great ways to foster community around dogs rather than around dog food.

While having a strong community won’t necessarily mean you’ll have a strong subscription offering (as we’ve mentioned extensively, it’s also highly dependent on your product), a tight-knit community combined with a subscribable product that meets the needs of this community is truly the ideal recipe for subscription success.  

Could my product make a great gift when delivered routinely over a set period of time?

Another way to offer a subscription is by leaning into a giftable option. If you have a product that could make a great gift for a set period of time, featuring a giftable prepaid subscription is a seamless way to weave subscriptions into your brand. 

Scotts Flowers is a prime example of a brand that makes an excellent subscription gift. Giving a loved one the present of fresh flowers sent to their door every month is a wonderful way to show someone you care about them.

Scotts Flowers Giftable Subscriptions

Patterned socks, candles, perfume, and books are all products that could make engaging giftable subscriptions. Even though some consumers might not want to stay subscribed forever to these kinds of products, they’re excellent for a set period of time — making them perfect gifts.  

Can I incentivize repeat buyers to subscribe even if it might not happen organically?

This question mostly pertains to brands that have a product that requires an educational angle. 

To return to our filter example, while most people know they need to clean out their vacuum filters every so often, many don’t give a second thought to their showerheads in general. That’s where Jolie came in. 

The brand’s go-to-market strategy was centered on educating consumers about how filtered water has a substantial impact on hair and skin. This groundbreaking research — coupled with advice that Jolie’s filters need to be changed as often as any other filter needs to be changed — spiked considerable interest and engagement from consumers, beautifully supporting Jolie’s sequential subscription that delivers filters every 3 months.

Jolie Showerhead Homepage

Looking at a different example, For Days is a sustainable fashion brand that sells a variety of clothing and accessories. As we’ve mentioned, subscriptions can work well with clothing brands — but you have to really know your audience. 

For Days has gained a following of highly eco-conscious fashion lovers who likely want to limit their fashion consumption to avoid waste. As a result, a traditional clothing subscription probably wouldn’t be the most lucrative option nor would it represent the brand’s values. So For Days took another approach — with what they call their ‘Take Back Bag.’ 

For Days Take Back Bag Subscriptions

Here’s how it works: subscribers purchase the Take Back Bag and send in any clothing or textiles that they want to get rid of (including damaged and/or stained textiles). In exchange, For Days gives subscribers a credit toward any clothes or accessories on their website. 

Here’s where the educational component comes in: while many consumers would think to just donate the clothes that they clean out of their closets, over 85% of all textiles (including donations) actually end up in a landfill. This means that many consumers with good intentions are accidentally contributing to the problem. 

For Days, on the other hand, effectively recycles or upcycles donated clothes, thus ensuring no waste. 

By educating consumers about the usual fate of donated clothes, For Days empowers their subscribers to regularly clean out their closet in a far eco-friendlier way while simultaneously giving them the freedom to shop for new sustainable clothing in a way that results in no clothing waste and no excess clothes in their closets. It’s a win-win for everyone, genuinely operating on the interests, values, and needs of their target audience.

This is all to say: if your only barrier to success is education — even if your product isn’t a well-known subscribable idea — you may still be able to foster a thriving subscription offering, so long as you can incentivize consumers to subscribe.

Determining if the subscription model is right for your brand starts with some internal reflection about your Shopify store and the products you offer. Asking yourself these 6 questions can help you decide if subscriptions can take your brand to the next level — and if you’re looking for the best Shopify subscription app to make that happen, send us a note.