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The Smartrr Take
31 Subscription eCommerce Shopify Tech Stack Tips (A Checklist)
All of the Shopify tech stack tips and tricks you need to optimize your subscription eCommerce business.
May 19, 2023
Though it's most common around spring, there's never a bad time to take out an Airsign vacuum and HoldOn garbage bags to do some cleaning. In our digital age, it’s also a good idea to clean up from a technological perspective — whether that means organizing your data, optimizing your automated email flows, or consolidating your Shopify tech stack.
If doing a technological cleanse is on your list of things to do (which it should be), we know it can get overwhelming fast. Staying organized is an important part of any DTC business, which is why we’ve created a checklist of 31 subscription eCommerce Shopify tech stack tips to help you refresh your brand. From improving your churn rate to making the most of your subscription offerings, here are our best Shopify tips and tricks to employ during your internal quarterly audit.
Subscription eCommerce Checklist
Review Your Automated Email Flows
When effectively leveraged, your automated email flows can be doing a lot of work for your brand and are an important part of your eCommerce tech stack.
Just so we’re on the same page: much like the name suggests, when we talk about automated email flows, we’re referring to certain actions, behaviors, or data that trigger an email to be sent to a given subscriber. This could mean subscribers get a specific automated email when they, say, sign up for a newsletter or abandon their cart.
It’s so important to be intentional about your email choices — because both sending emails sporadically and inundating subscribers with emails can result in low engagement. You want your automated email flows to truly enhance and support your business’ bottom line.
It’s always a good idea to check in to make sure you are optimizing your automated email flows and maybe make some strategic additions to ensure you’re getting the most out of your automated emails.
Whether you’re using Klaviyo or another tool, here’s what you need to know to strenghen your tech stack:
Improving Your Automated Email Flows: The Checklist
Start fresh with clear goals. It’s always a good idea to approach your cleanse with a clear goal in mind. What do you want from your email flows? Do you want them primarily to build up your relationships? Drive revenue? Help you stay in touch with low-engaged subscribers? Is there a specific metric such as CTR that you are trying to increase? A combination of these? Before you reassess your strategy, be sure you’ve identified what it is you want.
Ensure brand voice alignment. Maybe you’ve made some adjustments to and/or evolved your brand voice since you last updated your email marketing flows. This is a great time to check back in on your copy to make sure it still feels authentic and appropriate for your brand.
Update, update, update. This might be an obvious one, but it can be easy to forget that any changes to your brand, programs, products, etc. also need to be reflected in your automated email flows. Be sure the information that you’re sending to your consumers is 100% up-to-date.
Maximize personalization. 74% of marketers report that eCommerce personalization has either a strong or extreme impact on online retailers. Taking that extra personal step matters. Whether you’re recommending specific products based on a subscriber’s activity or sending personalized birthday emails, finding creative ways to boost any personal touchpoints will reflect back positively on your brand.
Expand into a new area. There are a variety of different automated email campaigns that eCommerce brands utilize to increase engagement and retention. Whatever your current strategy includes, it can be smart to try out something new. Try out an education series to nurture your subscribers and build up both their trust and your authority. Maybe you use one of your emails just to talk about the story behind your brand to humanize your team. Or perhaps you can target an action that a user might take on your site that you think would warrant a helpful follow-up. Whatever it may be, try to expand into an area that your automated emails don’t already cover.
Optimize Your SMS Messaging Strategies
Similar to your automated email flows, it’s a great idea to check in on your SMS messaging strategy. Leaning on SMS as a marketing tactic can be an incredibly powerful tool, especially since texting has become the dominant form of communication. But, as we all know, with great power comes great responsibility. SMS is an area best approached with intention and strategy — and there’s no better time than your tech stack audit to make sure you’re optimizing your current approach.
Improving Your SMS Messaging Strategies: The Checklist
Go beyond promotions. Take a look at your overall strategy and past messaging. If you’re almost exclusively leaning on promotions, it’s probably a good idea to consider implementing some variety. Only using SMS as a promotional tool means you’re not taking full advantage of its potential.
Ensure brand voice alignment. Much like your automated email flows, your SMS messaging should be fully in your brand voice. See if you can find moments to play up your tone. Especially since texting tends to be significantly less formal, something personalized and more casual can go a long way.
Stay lean and mean. Similar to emailing, it’s important not to overuse SMS so as not to annoy or alienate your consumers. Since texting is more of a personal form of communication, it can work wonders for building up strong relationships — but it can also be a riskier method if overused. As you’re reviewing your current messaging, make sure you’re being intentional about not overwhelming your subscribers.
Vet your current messaging to make sure it’s highly necessary and useful. Relatedly, it’s important that the content you are sending out is adding value to your consumers’ lives. Whether you’re reminding them of an abandoned cart and providing them with a link to check out or sending them a delivery reminder with a tracking link, try to aim to send messaging that will truly make their lives easier.
Opt into SMS messaging for brands that you like. Don’t forget that you are also a consumer, and one of the best ways for DTC brands to know their audience is for them to occasionally step into their shoes. Monitor what you like, what you find engaging, and what rubs you the wrong way — and use this to inform your future strategy.
Enable customers to manage subscriptions or next orders through SMS. Leveraging integrations such as Smartrr + Postscript’s allows brands to communicate to customers when their next subscription order is coming. This means consumers can choose to skip their next order directly in the text thread, making subscription management extremely simple. Plus, while you have your consumers’ attention, make sure to further engage by bringing them back into their customer account portal experience with a direct link to update payment, redeem loyalty points, swap an item, and so much more.
Add Value to Your Subscription Offering
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that we’re advocating for bolstering your subscription program. Revisiting your subscription offerings should absolutely be part of your cleaning rotation — after all, investing in subscriptions means investing in customer lifetime value.
Here are some of the many ways you can make the most of your subscription offering:
Improving Your Subscription Offering: The Checklist
Check your PDP default settings. If you don’t have subscriptions set as your default, consider changing that. If you have a one-month pack of your product as your default but want to encourage a three-month pack to increase your AOV, try it out. If everybody seems to be opting for the same subscription offering, try making that your default. You can even try defaulting a variety pack to introduce customers to new products across your product line. Clearly, there are many ways to interpret this — and you’d be surprised by the impact that a simple switch could have on your sales.
Consider implementing a membership experience. If you already have a loyal subscriber base and you want to transform your best customers into valued VIPs, a membership option could be a great way to give your brand a boost. Give your membership a fun, brand-relevant name and offer members exclusive perks, discounts, first access to new products, or whatever makes sense for your business.
Locate opportunities to upsell. For any consumers who opted for a one-time purchase, try upselling with subscriptions as part of their checkout flow. Make sure you make the discounts, increased convenience, flexibility, and any other perks all super clear and digestible. This is an easy, risk-free way to encourage more of your audience to opt-in to subscriptions — after all, the worst they can say is no thanks.
Review your customer account portal. It’s vital not to undervalue the importance of your customer account portal. With some key changes and optimizations, the customer portal can bring engagement and loyalty to the next level — and, once set up, it works autonomously. Are you utilizing a loyalty program? Do you have clear referral rewards? Are there gifting options? Are you utilizing curated trending lists? Strategically offering one-time add-ons? Taking these extra steps will enrich your consumers’ experience (and your brand’s performance). And PS — if you need a Shopify subscription app to help you do all this and more, Smartrr is well-equipped to assist you in revamping your account portal.
Build the Best Shopify Tech Stack Through Consolidation
There are literally thousands of apps in the Shopify ecosystem. We know; it’s a lot. With so many options, it’s important to ensure that the apps that you’re using are truly working hard for you. In general, it’s a better idea to have fewer but more robust apps — from both a cost perspective and a user experience perspective. It can be tough to cut through all the noise and figure out the best Shopify apps for your brand, which is why taking time to check in on the success of your tech stack should absolutely be part of your routine.
Here are some tips for consolidating your tech stack:
Improving Your Shopify Tech Stack: The (Conceptual) Checklist
Does it spark joy? This is Marie Kondo’s strategy for decluttering your home. Holding an object close to you and asking yourself if it sparks joy is a good way to assess if you really benefit from keeping it around. You can use the same mentality when you go through your tech stack, but instead, ask yourself if this tool ultimately sparks joy for your end consumer. Does it directly improve your customer’s experience? How? By how much? Is there another tool that can do more to have a bigger impact? These are helpful questions to ask yourself as you sift through your technology.
Make a ranking list of your tech priorities – and then do your research to ensure you’re getting apps with the most significant “value-adds.” A big part of building a strong tech stack is understanding what’s out there. By researching the best Shopify apps for whatever your top priorities are, you can locate strong tools that may also have other useful features that are important to you — and these value-adds can make an app more robust than it initially seemed. For example, if subscriptions are a main priority for your brand, Smartrr has that fully covered — and also provides merchants with other LTV toolkit features like Bundles, Loyalty Rewards, and Referrals.
Look for true partners, not just software. At the end of the day, no technology is ever perfect. As you’re cleaning out and consolidating your tech stack, ask yourself if your current apps are truly helping achieve your bottom line. Do they provide strong support or does it take six days for them to answer a simple question? It’s important to feel that your technology is taking care of your consumers and your business overall.
For anyone not sure which technological pillars to target, at a minimum, you should have apps that support these Shopify categories:
Improving Your Shopify Tech Stack: The Categories Checklist
Email/SMS: More and more brands are opting to communicate via text, and there’s a reason for that. Having SMS messaging as part of your communication strategy will help you stay competitive and stay in touch. Of course, emails have been and remain another vital tool for effective marketing — and should also be prioritized as you’re creating your tech stack.
Subscriptions: Loyalty and engagement are two highly important areas, and a strong subscription offering is a great way to foster these. In general, your most committed and profitable consumers will always be subscribers — so investing in strong subscription software is a must.
Data & Analytics: A tool to aid in data collection and organization will be instrumental for your business.
Customer service/support: A stellar support system (or, on the flip side, an inadequate support system) can make all the difference for your reputation, retention, churn — you name it. Making sure you have the best tools to support your audience will take your business far.
We can’t talk about organizing and optimizing your eCommerce business without specifically mentioning data. Data drives so many business decisions (as it should), and prioritizing smart data collection can have an enormous impact on your brand.
Let’s dive in.
What are Zero and First-Party Data?
Zero-party data is considered to be any information that a user intentionally and voluntarily shares with you (like polls, surveys, quizzes, etc).
First-party data, on the other hand, is information that you gather passively based on your users’ interactions and behaviors (like purchase history, browsing data, and off-site channels like email clicks).
Improving Your Zero and First-Party Data Strategies: The Checklist
Get rid of extraneous data. Think of this as clearing out the clothes that you no longer wear. Removing useless data is a great place to start freshening up your data. Get rid of duplicates, inactive contacts, and any other data that is no longer useful or relevant.
Check in on your segmentation. Once you’ve cleaned out your data, it’s extremely important to segment it well. Audience segmentation can help you effectively divide out your zero and first-party data in ways that are aligned with your predetermined objectives. From there, you can use this to tailor your email/SMS campaigns to specific audience members (it’s all related!).
Implement a new feedback form or survey. Even if you already have a feedback form or survey in place, revisit it. Tweak questions that haven’t been yielding great responses and make additions to gather new data. Keeping your data collection fresh will help keep your data fresh.
Make sure your employees/colleagues are up-to-speed on any changes in data collection, analysis, or organization. If you adjust any of your usual systems, just be sure to update anyone who typically interacts with that system. Ensuring team alignment in general is a best practice after you make significant changes during your tech cleaning.
We’re definitely not the first to suggest that monitoring analytics reigns supreme. When it comes to important metrics for DTC eCommerce businesses, churn is one of the most essential areas to measure. Understanding and making strategic decisions based on your churn rate is a great place to start cleaning up your brand.
Here’s what to know:
What is churn?
Just in case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, let’s start with the basics.
Most people think of butter when they hear the word “churn.” When it comes to subscription eCommerce, churn is when a consumer makes a purchase and then opts not to buy again. Technically, the official definition is to agitate or turn over, which makes sense both for making butter and for customers who choose to leave your brand.
In other words: minimizing any customer agitation and, thus, your churn rate, should be a primary goal of your brand.
Churn Rate Formula
Specifically for subscription eCommerce businesses, there’s a simple formula to calculate your churn rate that you can use over whatever established period you’d like. Even if your Shopify subscription app is doing the calculation for you, it’s still important to understand where this figure is coming from.
(Customers at the start of the period - Customers at the end of the period + New customers acquired in the period) / Customers at the start of the period
Now, here are some cleaning strategies for improving your metrics by reducing churn rate:
Improving Your Churn Rate: The Checklist
Look for overall patterns. Correctly identifying patterns among your churn will help you understand your consumers’ pain points and, more importantly, address them. If people seem to be leaving around the three-month point, try a discount or other incentives at month three.
Ask your subscribers why they’re canceling. If you’re struggling to find clear patterns, don’t be afraid to lean on surveys. As discussed, zero-party data is an incredibly powerful tool if used effectively. The easiest way to monitor why your subscribers are leaving is to be direct with them — plus, you can offer a personalized perk based on their cancellation reason as a way to increase your customer retention.
Watch out for any drastic dips. Did your churn rate suddenly spike in a given month? What changed during that month? A sudden, dramatic change can indicate an important problem that needs to be addressed to avoid a similar trend in the future.
Brainstorm new programs to implement based on common churn reasons. In addition to offering individual subscribers specific perks that pertain to their cancelation reason, your churn can also inspire proactive retention strategies that cast a wider net. Implementing a loyalty rewards program, for example, is one way to encourage your subscribers to stick around. Be sure to keep an eye out after the fact to see how your new programs impact your churn rate.
Set a regular cadence to check in on your churn rate. It’s important to review your churn metrics more than once a year. The more you have a finger on the pulse of your churn, the more you can help prevent your subscribers from leaving in the first place. Come up with a regular plan to review, analyze, and make decisions based on your churn rate.
Whether you're doing some spring cleaning or freshening up your tools before the new year, there's never a bad time to check in on your brand to ensure your Shopify tech stack and overall business are as organized and optimized as possible. Following our eCommerce checklist should set you up for success all year long.