Editor’s note: Comments have been edited for length and clarity.
Picking the perfect subscription platform isn’t hard — as long as you listen to expert advice.
In a recent webinar, we spoke with Carl Mixon, CMO of Ancestral Supplements, about his company’s decision to switch to Ordergroove from a subpar subscription platform.
In the wide-ranging discussion, Carl drew on his own experience selecting the wrong subscription platform to offer attendees tips that will make their subscription search stress-free.
Below, we’ve rounded up highlights from the discussion. For more insights, watch How Ancestral Supplements Overhauled Their Subscription Program to Drive Growth.
Ancestral Supplements’ Subscription Story
In 2020, Ancestral launched a subscription experience to build direct, recurring relationships with their customers. While their hopes for success were high, Ancestral soon realized that they’d partner with a subpar subscription solution platform.
Within months, the supplement company’s fledgling subscription program was in trouble and they knew they needed to switch to a new subscription platform to succeed.
After thoroughly researching popular subscription solutions, Ancestral migrated their subscription program to Ordergroove and saw almost instantaneous results. In their first 60 days with Ordergroove, Ancestral subscriptions doubled.
Not only this, Ancestral now has a 21% subscription conversion rate, much higher than the industry average.
Here are Carl’s tips for selecting the right subscription platform for your business.
Tip 1: Don’t Cut Corners
When selecting a subscription platform, Carl encouraged merchants to prioritize researching subscription solutions on the market.
“I had a loose attitude about [subscriptions] and I ended up cutting some corners,” Carl said about his experience. “There was a professional at another company that I respected and he told me about the subscription program that he was with, and I did something I shouldn’t have done.
“Instead of going out and looking at everyone, I said, ‘Well, I trust him, I’m going to go with his subscription program and save myself a little bit of time.’ That was the worst mistake I could have made.”
Carl said that not long after Ancestral switched to Ordergroove, his colleague’s company also migrated to a new subscription platform.
“It just goes to show, you really have to do your due diligence,” he said. “A subscription program is very important — it’s not one of the places that you should be cutting corners.”
Tip 2: Ask Hard Questions
When evaluating a subscription platform, Carl said merchants must lead the conversation.
“If you’re not driving the conversation, [the subscription solution provider] can be telling you about the benefits they provide but they’re going to shy away from the parts of [their subscription] program that are deficient and their weaknesses,” he said.
Carl advised merchants to ask difficult questions.
“When you ask the hard questions, it’s not about putting somebody on the spot, it’s that you want to see how they react to those questions,” he said.
How the platform responds is a strong indicator of what it would be like to work with the company, Carl said.
When asked for examples of the types of hard questions merchants should ask, Carl told attendees to concentrate on how a subscription platform will interact with their current system.
He also recommended attendees drill down on sales tax capabilities. Ancestral’s previous subscription platform said they could collect sales taxes, but wasn’t able to deliver. As a result, Ancestral wasn’t tax compliant and had to hire an expensive outside company to fix the problem.
“You really need to look into parts of your business that don’t have anything to do with your subscription provider, necessarily, and ask [the subscription platfrom] how those things will be affected,” Carl said.
Tip 3: Native Checkout Is a Must-Have
Ancestral’s difficulties with their previous subscription platform stemmed from the platform’s use of a partially integrated checkout. This type of experience — commonly referred to as a “hijacked checkout” — transfers shoppers to a different site and interface to complete their purchase.
Because of the subscription platform’s hijacked checkout, Ancestral was forced to duplicate the eir product catalog, which caused resource strain. Every time Ancestral wanted to update an SKU, they needed to do twice the work.
The subscription platform’s hijacked checkout also made it difficult to track and collect data, including purchases from their affiliates.
Not only this, Carl said that eCommerce apps Ancestral relied on didn’t perform well with a hijacked checkout.
“Whenever you agree to [a subscription platform that isn’t native] you’re accepting inflexibility, so the ability for everything to work natively is something that a merchant should really focus on.”
Bonus Tip: To Grow, Prioritize Your Customers
Carl attributes much of Ancestral’s success to the brand’s focus on delivering phenomenal customer service.
Whether you’re new to subscription or looking to grow, Carl said good customer service is critical to success.
“I think that the main reason why we see such a high conversion rate is that we make sure that the product really works for the customer,” Carl said. “We will spend a lot of time with each customer, making sure that they’re paired with the products that work right for them.”
For more subscription insights, watch our on-demand webinar with Ancestral Supplement.