eCommerce subscription fatigue: What it is and 5 ways to combat it

Subscriptions are now table stakes for eCommerce brands and retailers. In fact, in 2023, eCommerce subscriptions are predicted to reach $38 billion in revenue, more than double the amount generated in 2019.

However, with more subscription experiences hitting the market every day, eCommerce brands and retailers must be on guard for subscription fatigue like never before. 

Subscription fatigue refers to subscribers losing interest in maintaining multiple subscriptions across several brands. It occurs most often a subscriber becomes tired of budgeting for multiple subscriptions and keeping track of when each product ships. The most common outcome of subscription fatigue is churn.

While subscriptions make good business sense, eCommerce brands and retailers must develop and implement strategies to combat subscription fatigue by increasing the value and convenience of their subscription experience. Here are five ways to achieve both.

1. Create innovative content to build community

Engaging content can build community and reduce fatigue around subscription products. According to’s 2022 Content Matters Report, 43% of marketers said that content designed to “retain and expand existing customers” helped drive revenue. 

Content can include articles, videos, podcasts, short-form LinkedIn posts, and more. The content helps subscribers get the most out of their products and engages them in between orders.

After all, getting a bottle of vitamins delivered to your door each month is only so engaging. With the right content, the recurring shipments become part of a more significant experience, not the experience itself.

CLIF Bar, a plant-based food company, knows their customers are health-conscious. To provide value to customers, the company created a library of articles on nutrition. But they go a step further.

Their content focuses on societal health as much as physical health. CLIF Bar contracts with famous athletes to promote organizations that focus on societal change. For example, they highlight tennis player Venus Williams and her work with an organization that connects people of color to nature.

how to combat eCommerce subscription fatigue

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So how does this emphasis on content combat subscription fatigue? CLIF Bar subscribers realize they’re investing not just in their health but also in something much greater than themselves.

While you may not have the resources to ink a deal with celebrities, you can still create content that connects your subscribers with causes you care about.

2. Gamify customer retention with a loyalty program

Loyalty programs prevent subscription fatigue by rewarding subscribers for ongoing engagement with a brand.

McKinsey found that top-performing loyalty programs can boost revenue by 15-25% annually from customers who redeem points. The revenue boost comes from increasing their purchase frequency, average order value, or both.

Yankee Candle awards loyalty points for a variety of customer activities, from writing a product review to a social media follow. The more points one earns, the greater the benefits.

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Yankee Candle’s loyalty program is open to subscribers and non-subscribers alike. To address subscription fatigue, they could create a separate rewards tier for subscribers only. A certain number of points might earn a complimentary add-on or monthly shipment.

Yotpo is a Shopify and BigCommerce app that awards points for the types of activities mentioned above. If you’d rather not have a points-based loyalty program, Yotpo lets you attach incentives to the number of purchases or customer referrals.

3. Give subscribers as much control as possible

A customer “suffering” from subscription fatigue doesn’t have to churn if the control you give them over their shipments amounts to more than enrolling and canceling. Our research found that subscribers last 71% longer when they can swap a product and 135% longer if they can skip an order.

When subscribers swap or skip, it also gives you the chance to collect valuable customer data to offset fatigue later on. You have an opportunity to build anticipation for their next shipment. When it’s about to go out, notify them that you’re including a free sample of something they haven’t tried to welcome them back.

KIND Snacks lets subscribers customize shipments with bars they like, and they can skip shipments without having to cancel.

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Not only does KIND give subscribers the ability to swap, but they include free samples in each shipment to help customers decide what to swap.

4. Offer several enrollment plans based on subscriber interest

The primary reason subscribers cancel is because their subscription is too expensive, according to an Ordergroove consumer survey. You can fight churn and subscription fatigue by offering prepaid subscriptions. 

Prepaid subscriptions let consumers subscribe to your product for a longer term in exchange for a steeper discount. Take specialty coffee roaster La Colombe as an example. They allow consumers to prepay for three orders in exchange for an additional 10%. This incentive comes on top of an initial 10% discount and free shipping for subscribing.

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With prepaid subscriptions, price-conscious shoppers who love your product but are questioning how much they’re spending on all of their subscriptions will have a greater reason to say with your brand. 

Prepaid subscriptions will also positively impact your bottom line. Ordergroove data shows that prepaid subscriptions, on average, generate four times the customer lifetime value of pay-as-you-go subscriptions.

5. Send regular – but concise – satisfaction surveys

One of the best ways to manage subscription fatigue is to ask subscribers to rate their satisfaction levels with the experience you offer. You might get ideas that end up improving the experience for all subscribers.

But how do you get your customers to complete the survey? For starters, keep them brief. According to SurveyMonkey, customers are more likely to abandon surveys that take more than seven to eight minutes to fill out. They found that completion rates dropped as much as 20%.

Many enterprise-level eCommerce companies send customer experience surveys through platforms such as Qualtrics. They can further integrate Qualtrics with email providers like Klaviyo to give the surveys more consistent branding when you send them out.

Using a customer experience hub like Qualtrics means that you can quickly calculate results and respond to fatigue-related issues faster. If you see consistently low scores, you can follow up with those customers individually for more context. 

Reduce subscription fatigue with a focus on customer satisfaction

Startups with subscription business models often assume that customer satisfaction is something static. The reality is that customer expectations evolve, making customer satisfaction a work in progress. The tips above are a jumping-off point, but reducing subscription fatigue means keeping close tabs on what customers read, click, and buy.

To learn more about how Ordergroove can help you build community in your subscription experience, click here for a free demo.

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