Why Recurring Orders Are So Powerful

Recurring orders are the basis of every subscription offering. They're also a treasure trove of opportunity to engage and retain lifelong customers. Here's how.

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    Recurring orders have been around for a little while now. In their simplest form, they are the basis of subscription businesses and enable repeat purchases. They offer convenience to consumers and a reliable revenue stream for businesses.

    But let’s cut to the chase: recurring orders can and should be so much more than that. When effectively leveraged, eCommerce brands can use the foundation of automatic payments to tap into unparalleled customer loyalty, create an engaging customer experience, and foster lifelong brand advocates.

    We’ll walk you through the basics of recurring orders as well as how you can leverage repeat customer interactions to unlock the full power of repeat buyers and bring your Shopify subscription brand to the next level.

    What are Recurring Orders and How Do They Work?

    Recurring orders are purchases that repeat periodically.

    Customers have to provide explicit permission and save a credit card or some other payment information on file, thereby allowing the company to charge them at predetermined intervals.

    For visibility, companies typically provide customers with notifications to let them know their payment is processing. It’s then up to the customer to cancel this set-up or they’ll continue to be charged for the agreed-upon time interval.  

    To set up recurring orders for your eCommerce store, you’ll need subscription software, some form of payment processing, and a subscribable product or service, of course.

    Benefits of Recurring Purchases

    Before we dive into the power of these repeat orders, let’s discuss some more basic benefits for customers and businesses:

    For Customers

    • Convenience. Not having to worry about remembering to submit online payments for future orders is a big perk for customers. Instead, they can get the products or services they need automatically.
    • Savings. To incentive customers to participate, companies will often offer meaningful discounts for customers who participate (subscribe & save).

    For Businesses

    Why Recurring Orders Are so Powerful

    Now let’s dig a little deeper than the basics — because the real power of recurring payments comes from the relationships that they enable after checkout.

    Subscription models guarantee frequent interactions with repeat buyers (so long as they stay subscribed). And since repeat buyers are worth 22x more than average buyers, there is substantial opportunity for meaningful relationships and real growth by leaning into your current subscribers.

    Let’s talk about how you can leverage the untapped potential of recurring orders.

    You Can Better Ensure Longevity With Flexible Subscription Management

    Flexible Subscription Management

    One of the best ways to bring recurring payments to the next level is to give your subscribers the power to manage their subscriptions however they see fit.

    A benefit of one-time purchases is the feeling of being in control — so ensuring your subscription offering provides a sense of this same control is a must. An enriching customer account portal is perfect to house any order management settings as well as offer engaging touchpoints like one-time add-ons, trending upsells, and in-feed socials.

    There Are Far More Opportunities to Foster Brand Loyalty

    As we mentioned, recurring orders mean you can gather much more than just subscribers’ credit card information. Because subscribers are automatically interacting with your online store on a consistent basis, there are so many opportunities to engage them and unlock deeper levels of loyalty.

    Create a membership-like experience and treat subscribers like VIPs by offering them free shipping, exclusive access to product drops, and an engaging loyalty program that they can interact with however they choose.

    We also always advise eCommerce merchants to lean into personalization for any email and SMS messaging as well. Personalized product recommendations are yet another way to create a stronger relationship with your subscribers.

    Subscribers Are More Likely to Spread the Word About Your Brand

    An incredibly attractive aspect of the subscription business model is the fact that it opens the door for organic word-of-mouth marketing.

    The loyal relationships that you develop with your subscribers can easily be leveraged to help spread the word about your brand. Offering loyalty points in exchange for referrals is one example of a way to encourage subscribers to bring in new customers.

    Offering a gifting option for subscribers who want to skip or delay an order is yet another way to lean into your current subscriber base to acquire more customers.

    You Can Better Gather Reliable Data

    With a reliable returning audience comes a prime opportunity to gather meaningful data to strengthen your brand as a whole.

    For one, you can test new products on subscribers as small free samples or exclusive product drops. From there, you can offer up loyalty points to any subscriber who leaves you a review of this new product so you can effectively improve it and also display social proof when you do ultimately release it to your wider audience.

    Additionally, if subscribers do churn, implementing a cancellation survey is a smart way to understand why and address the weaker aspects of your offering. Plus, if you notice subscribers tend to churn around the same time, you can offer a widespread discount to all subscribers right before this high-risk period and improve retention across the board.


    At the end of the day, recurring orders provide your brand with the templates you need to create loyal lifelong customers — so long as you take advantage of the opportunity and strengthen your subscriber relationships.

    And if you’re looking for the strongest suite of tools you’ll need to unlock the power of repeat customers, send us a note.