For many brands with products that are needed on a recurring basis, adding in subscription-based offerings adds simplicity to customers’ lives as well as sustainability for the retailer.
Across the board, ecommerce subscriptions are seeing incredible growth:
- Between 2011 and 2016, sales among the largest retailers in the ecommerce subscription market rose from $57 million to $2.6 billion
- Between 2013 and 2016, visits to top subscription box websites increased 2,963% from 722,000 to 21.4 million
- As of early 2017, the total number of monthly visitors to U.S. subscription box sites surpassed 40 million and 17 million paying subscribers
Unfortunately, broad data doesn’t help practical application. Especially if you’re looking to scale your own ecommerce subscription model.
Thankfully, three brands — powered by Shopify Plus and ReCharge — are pulling back the curtain.
Let’s take a closer look at how adding subscription-based products helped drive recurring revenue for …
- Kopari: 100% Increase in Subscriptions
- Tiege Hanley: 10K+ Subscribers through Vlogging
- BootayBag: 350% More Subscribers in 2.5 Years
1. Kopari: 100% Increase in Subscriptions
While gathering customer feedback, beauty company Kopari realized that their customers wanted to be able to order their coconut-based skincare on a recurring basis. That was when they knew it was time to start thinking seriously about subscriptions.
“Everything we do is for our customers, and so we wanted to be able to offer the subscription option to them if that was what they wanted,” says Lanie DePasquale, eCommerce Manager at Kopari.
What they needed was a tool that would integrate seamlessly with Kopari’s existing loyalty program — Swell Rewards — and Shopify Plus. So, they started doing their homework and found one solution that was overly complex and another that was decidedly not a favorite of the development team.
“When it came to ReCharge, we read a ton of reviews and saw that the solution was straightforward, integrated with Shopify Plus, and was easy to use. It just made sense.”
It didn’t take long to get customers on board with the subscription model.
The email that announced the new subscription program — on the far left — had a 5.5% higher open rate than their average emails, and they doubled the number of subscribers they had from that single campaign.
One of the unexpected benefits of adding the subscription option is that it’s helped Kopari gain rich insights into customer behaviors. By studying which customers buy which products, they’ve been able to fine-tune their product recommendations.
What’s more, thanks to the brand’s built-in loyalty system, shoppers can also score redeemable points for repeat purchases, which improves the overall customer experience.
Today, subscriptions are up 100% and the brand now offers nine subscription products total.
2. Tiege Hanley: 10K+ Subscribers through Vlogging
Tiege Hanley, a men’s skincare subscription company, has been also able to grow their subscription business quickly.
Part of their success has come from making behind-the-scenes video blogs (vlogs) an integral element of their marketing strategy.
Rob Hoxie, the brand’s co-founder, explained how it happened.
“We ran into Aaron Marino, who had a successful YouTube channel called Alpha M. where he’d built up a following of more than 750,000 subscribers by teaching men how to improve their grooming, wardrobe, fitness, and lifestyle. We reached out to him to see if he would be interested in helping promote Tiege Hanley, which he was.”
But outside of their partnership, Aaron encouraged the co-founders to consider making vlogs about the brand and to showcase was happening behind the scenes. In Rob’s words:
“Aaron wanted us to create a YouTube channel where we would document this whole journey for everyone to see. Kelley and I were skeptical at first, but it turned out to be a brilliant idea.
“After 35 video blog posts, when we finally launched the site, we had something like 5,000 followers ready to become subscribers — and they were engaged followers, too — because we hadn’t just been telling them about what we were doing, but also asking for feedback along the way.”
By including their audience in the process, asking them to help pick packaging designs, to suggest tagline ideas, and to give their opinions on everything we did, it made them feel like they were a part of something — as opposed to just buying from a faceless company.
These efforts, paired with technology from Shopify Plus and ReCharge, has helped them surpass 10,000 subscribers in 6-8 months.
“We switched from WooCommerce and Wordpress to Shopify and ReCharge in mid-2017, and that’s made us feel a lot more confident in our ability to scale,” says Rob. “Once we had thousands of subscribers, we realized we needed companies behind us that could provide professional, 24/7 support and a lot more stability.”
For Tiege Hanley, the future is subscription-based. It’s a core piece of their business model, and they’re not looking back.
“The great thing about a subscription business,” as Rob puts it, “is that you don’t have to rely on one-time purchases. As a business owner, you can plan better and see into the future more accurately — compared to a more traditional model where you hope customers come back and buy again from you.”
3. BootayBag: 350% More Subscribers in 2.5 Years
Just about a year ago, Elly Gheno, founder of the women’s underwear subscription business BootayBag, had only 10,000 monthly subscribers for her business.
But today, thanks to improved tech and tightened up marketing on social channels, BootayBag now boasts more than 45,000 subscribed customers.
The rapid growth started when she made some initial investments in more reliable tools for her business.
“Early on, our website wasn’t very professional, and I’d been using PayPal for recurring payments — neither of which would work in the long term,” says Elly. “I decided to move over to Shopify and ReCharge. From all the research I’d done, it just seemed like the best option for the kind of company I was building. That alone added so much stability and security to my business and gave me a reliable resource for technical support.”
But that’s not all — Instagram has also helped burgeon BootayBag with female customers:
“Instagram has always been extremely important for me. It was one of the first platforms I used to market BootayBag, and it’s probably still the most effective marketing platform for us today. There’s a huge audience on there, and there aren’t a lot of companies successfully selling products to them yet.
“I decided I wanted our brand to be about making women feel good about themselves and their bodies. That’s why our Instagram feed has always been very body positive and focused on making women feel beautiful — which has really helped us grow our audience.”
Today, BootayBag has more than 140,000 Instagram followers and growing. With such a large and engaged audience, Elly has turned to this channel for even more than audience-building these days.
“Instagram is my biggest source of feedback,” explains Elly. “I personally monitor all our social media accounts and read everyone’s comments. I believe if you’re not listening to your customers, you’ll never improve, and you’ll never grow.
“I’m asking questions like what colors and styles people want to see next, whether they like what they’re getting, and if they want to see something new. Our customers love giving their opinions, so I never really have to wonder what they’re thinking.”
Leveraging the Ecommerce Subscription Model for Long-Term Growth
There are two common threads for all three of these brands seeing incredible growth within the realm of subscription model businesses …
They listen to their customers and use smart, scalable technology that integrates seamlessly.
It’s paying off: these three ecommerce retailers are tapping into the incredible growth seen within the realm of subscription-based products and are driving monthly recurring revenue, building thousands of brand advocates, and creating sustainable, profitable businesses.
As more and more brands compete on the forefront of customer experience, this strategy takes a well-rounded approach to ensuring customers are happy and heard — and friction is minimized across all touchpoints.
About the Author
Chase Alderton is a Marketing Associate at ReCharge Payments where he is in charge of content creation for the blog and social media, as well as managing various projects related to the quickly growing marketing team.