Thought Leadership

Relationship Commerce

How to make your subscription program stand out

Every day, more and more brands are introducing new subscription offerings in the market. As a result, competition has never been higher. Basic subscription programs are no longer enough to attract and retain consumers. To thrive in 2021 and beyond, brands must think outside the box to differentiate their subscription program.

Below we’ve highlighted incentives and buying experiences you can incorporate into your subscription program that will not only entice shoppers to enroll but will retain them longer. Where appropriate, we’ve also included benchmarks compiled from Ordergroove’s internal data.

Consumers Want Value and Convenience

Before we go in any further, it’s important to understand what consumers want from their subscription offerings.

Broadly speaking, shoppers want value and convenience. In other words, they want to get a lot for their money, without having to think about it.

Adopting incentives and buying experiences that focus on value and convenience is the best and fastest way to differentiate your subscription program from your competitors. Not only this, but you’ll also maximize recurring revenue by turning one-time transactions into profitable relationships.

It’s a tall order, but with some creative thinking and hard work, you can make it happen.

How to Add Value to Your Subscription Program

Consumers want to get the most out of their hard-earned money. That’s why value adds are powerful differentiators. Consumers are either getting more, saving more, or both.

Here are value-add incentives consumers love:

Subscription enrollment incentives

Consumers can’t get enough enrollment incentives. They reinforce their desire to “get a deal” and feel good about their purchase decision. Enrollment incentives run the gamut but typically revolve around a financial discount. Common enrollment incentives include:

  • Discounts (percentage or dollar amount)
  • Gift with purchase
  • Free trial

How much do consumers love enrollment incentives? Our data shows that offering a 5% discount increases subscription enrollment by 104%. What’s more, the steeper the discount the higher the enrollment rate.

Free shipping

Free shipping is one of the most popular incentives in eCommerce. In fact, 85% of shoppers say that not having free shipping for online orders is a “deal-breaker.” While this incentive can be expensive if not rolled out with care, it can increase revenue. Our data shows implementing a free shipping threshold can increase average order value by as much as 27%.

Best price guaranteed

Consumers love this promise because it reassures them that they are stretching their cash. It also gives them back time they would have otherwise used to compare products.

We found that a best price guaranteed promise can increase subscription creation by up to 55%.

Subscribe more, save more

A subscribe more, save more incentive functions similarly to an enrollment discount. In this case, shoppers save money when they subscribe to multiple products. Not only is this type of incentive a powerful enrollment tool, but it also delivers long-term customer value, which instills loyalty and improves retention.

Early access

Another way to make subscribers love your subscription offering is to make them feel special. A time-tested way to do this is to offer subscribers early access to products and/or sales. While this incentive helps with enrollment, it also benefits retention.

Retention rewards

Retention rewards offer subscribers a discount or gift after a specified number of orders. This incentive adds value for subscribers, while also reducing the likelihood that they churn. We’ve seen retention rewards increase subscription enrollment by as much as 130%.

How to Add Convenience to Your Subscription Program

Today’s shoppers crave meaningful experiences. They don’t want to waste time and energy worrying about when their delivery will arrive and whether it will meet their expectations or how to manage their subscriptions. By adding convenience to your subscription program, you free up shoppers to focus on the experiences that matter to them.

Here are ways to add convenience to your subscription offering:

AI-driven personalization

Consumers are demanding personalized shopping experiences. In fact, 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can help you deliver more personalized and convenient shopping experiences to your subscribers. For example, you can use AI to refine replenishment frequencies and fine-tune promotions.

Ordergroove uses AI to anticipate when a subscriber is at risk of churn due to overstock and sends them an email offering them the option to skip their next order. This can reduce churn by as much as 13%.

High-quality subscription management interface

While most merchants offer a subscription management interface, they aren’t all the same quality. Shoppers want flexibility and control so they can customize their subscription to meet their needs. To stand out, offer a robust subscription management interface that includes in-demand tools.

Our clients have seen success with these tools:

  • Skip order: The most common reason subscribers leave a subscription is overstock. A skip order feature encourages shoppers to take a small break, instead of canceling. We found that subscribers last 135% longer when they have the ability to skip an order.
  • Product swap: Sometimes a subscriber gets tired of a product and wants to switch things up. A product swap tool enables them to trade out a product for a similar item. This works great for products with multiple varieties, such as protein powder and flavored coffee. Our data shows that product swapped subscriptions last 71% longer.
  • SMS management: Consumers are increasingly turning to SMS over other forms of communication like email. While offering SMS communication is a great start, it’s important to give consumers control over how and when they receive messages.

Guided selling

Shoppers want simplicity. A guided selling experience ensures they get exactly what they need. It’s also convenient because it shortens the amount of time needed to research your product.

Two of our favorite guided selling experiences are Yankee Candle’s Fragrance Flight and Darwin’s Natural Pet Products Fluffy Flow.

The Yankee Candle Fragrance Flight prompts consumers to participate in a guided quiz that helps them select a curated box based on their fragrance preferences.

Darwin’s Fluffy Flow is a set of questions about an owner’s pet that helps the brand recommend the ideal raw meat meal.

Combination orders

Shoppers like combination orders because it cuts down on shipping waste and frees up their brain space, as they no longer need to keep tabs on two separate packages. Our research shows that providing subscribers with this option can increase average order value by as much as 69%.

Wrap Up

As more brands implement subscription programs, it’s becoming more difficult to attract and retain customers. To differentiate your offering, you must give consumers what they want: value and convenience. Otherwise, you risk falling behind to more innovative and fast-moving brands.


Read more

More revenue. Better customer relationships.

Get started with Ordergroove today.