The Complete Guide to eCommerce Subscriptions
- Introduction: The rise of eCommerce subscriptions
- The subscription based business model: What is it and is it right for you?
- The eCommerce subscription model: Understanding its 3 types
- 5 Benefits of subscription services
- 9 Crucial subscription eCommerce platform capabilities
- Your guide to the essential subscription integrations and apps
- How to start a subscription business in 6 steps
- 7 Subscription model best practices
- Take the effort out of subscriptions with ordergroove
Your guide to the essential subscription integrations and apps
Angela Orbon |
Subscription integrations can turn an already effective subscription management platform into a more impactful tool for acquiring and retaining customers. And thanks to API and webhook technology, they’re usually easy to install.
For example, imagine your subscription platform uses artificial intelligence to anticipate when a subscriber is likely to churn from having too much of your product on hand.
An integration between the subscription platform and your email service provider makes it possible to alert the subscriber a few days prior to shipping that they can skip the order, which has been shown to reduce churn.
Without considering subscription integrations, you risk missing opportunities to improve the customer experience and deepen relationships with them. Here are seven integrations to consider.
1. eCommerce platforms
eCommerce platforms are a table-stakes integration for subscriptions. They enable the digital storefront where you showcase your pricing on subscription-ready products or services.
Make sure your subscription platform fully integrates with all leading eCommerce platforms. If it does not, you risk using a highly disjointed consumer experience that will harm your subscription program.
Subscription platforms that don’t fully integrate with an eCommerce platform use a hijacked checkout, a shopping experience that transfers buyers to a different site to complete the purchase. This awkward experience will drastically reduce your subscriber enrollment rate and rob you of important tracking data.
Subscription platforms that fully integrate with an eCommerce platform use an integrated checking, meaning the entire purchase process takes place on one site. Simply put, it’s a better experience for your consumers and gives you valuable subscriber data.
Additionally, there may come a time when you might want to migrate to a new subscription platform. Subscription platforms that fully integrate with your eCommerce platform will make it easier for you to collect and transfer subscriber data.
Tool recommendations: Shopify and BigCommerce
2. Payment gateways
Payment gateways are digital cash registers that give your subscribers the convenience of paying with their preferred methods. They are another table-stakes integration for subscriptions. Typically, they appear as icons or buttons that shoppers enable when they start to check out.
As you evaluate payment gateways, make sure they allow for recurring payments. One of the core conveniences of subscriptions is that they charge customers automatically for products that ship at a regular cadence.
If you conduct business internationally, your chosen payment gateways should also support multiple currencies.
Tool recommendation: Apple Pay
The 43.9 million Apple Pay users who enjoy the convenience of using it as an in-store “mobile wallet” will appreciate seeing it as a subscription payment gateway.
As a payment gateway, it integrates with a variety of eCommerce platforms such as Shopify. Apple Pay saves credit card, billing, and shipping information so customers can complete transactions with as few clicks as possible.
3. Email marketing platforms
Subscribers expect to have control over their subscriptions. Your email marketing platform must be powerful enough to send reminders they need to make important decisions about shipment dates, limited-time offers, customization opportunities, and more.
Email is far from dead. Litmus reports that when a company sends 9–16 marketing emails per month, they see an average return on investment (ROI) of 46:1.
Online beauty brand Il Makiage sends an email shortly after you fail to purchase what their product personalization quiz recommends. Its “Try before you buy” call to action is a powerful way to move hesitant subscribers over the line.
Many email marketing platforms can automate certain communications, such as the one above, so consider that feature as you evaluate email partners.
Tool recommendation: Klaviyo
Klaviyo is a marketing automation platform that triggers emails according to a schedule you set.
Say you want to notify subscribers of an upcoming shipment but also invite one-off buyers to become subscribers. Klaviyo’s companion customer relationship management (CRM) functionality allows you to assign different customer segments to different email marketing flows.
The email flow above sets an ideal cadence for a one-off buyer. The “Ready for a refill?” email can contain an invitation to subscribe. If the buyer takes no action, the next “Stock back up” email can contain a gentle reminder to subscribe, but this time with a special discount on the first shipment.
4. SMS marketing software
An SMS platform integration can deliver urgent, easy-to-digest messages to subscribers. The Mobile Ecosystem Forum reports that 25% of smartphone users preferred getting business communication via text in 2021.
Say a subscriber’s credit card will expire before their next scheduled shipment goes out. An SMS can quickly alert the subscriber and give them a link directly to their account.
SMS isn’t necessarily a replacement for email. You can use SMS to amplify or complement your email messaging. If an email asking the subscriber to customize their subscription goes unanswered, you can send an SMS after 24 hours with a more urgent notice.
Tool recommendation: Attentive
Attentive is an SMS platform that integrates with most eCommerce, email marketing, and subscription platforms. One of its most powerful features is that it can remind customers of a product they viewed and encourage them to buy or subscribe with an incentive.
Because of their integration with eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, Attentive can use intelligence from that platform to proactively recommend items to subscribers, personalizing communications and driving average order value.
5. Retention rewards program
A retention rewards program integration incentivizes subscribers to remain loyal, increasing their lifetime value.
Retention rewards program platforms should integrate seamlessly with your eCommerce and subscription providers. They improve the customer experience when they make it easy to learn about, earn, and redeem loyalty rewards. Of the customers surveyed by Loyalty Magazine, 76% say the most disliked feature of loyalty programs is that it takes too long or is too difficult to earn a reward.
Start rewarding subscribers by sending a gift or special discount after a set number of shipments. The gifts and discounts can get more generous the more they buy. Clarus Commerce reports that 35% of consumers join loyalty programs for “surprise rewards” and 34% because of “exclusive deals.”
Tool recommendation: Yotpo
Yotpo is a loyalty program integration that rewards subscribers and non-subscribers based on points, spend, purchases, or referrals.
If you wish to reward subscribers when they refer their friends, you can integrate a simple, easy-to-understand pop-up into specific pages of your website.
6. Data hygiene integration
Clean data helps you better understand customer behavior on your website. This information helps brands measure the performance of their subscription programs and remove any friction that might impede conversions.
According to Alation’s State of Data Culture Report, 39% of business leaders in 2021 reported that “bad, inaccurate, or redundant data” was the main reason their data analysis wasn’t driving business value.
Say your eCommerce business supports both subscriptions and one-off purchases. If you want to keep those sales and conversion steps separate in your Google Analytics dashboard, you may need an app to isolate that customer data and make it easier to digest.
Tool recommendation: Littledata
Littledata is an integration that standardizes eCommerce data on your Google Analytics dashboard and gives you a single source of truth for accurate data.
Littledata helps you determine which products most successfully drive subscription enrollments and provides attribution data for those sales. The platform integrates with both Shopify and BigCommerce and is one of the first to offer tracking in Google Analytics 4.
7. Contact center as a service (CCaaS) software
Customer support is a key part of the subscriber experience. When you integrate your subscription platform with your contact center as a service (CCaaS) software, you help agents solve problems quickly and efficiently. The result? Happier subscribers.
Negative support experiences lead to churn. According to Zendesk’s 2022 Customer Experience Trends Report, 61% of customers say they would switch to a company’s competitor after just one bad customer service experience.
For instance, imagine a subscriber starts an inquiry via live chat but decides to finish it with a phone call. The CCaaS software should make the live chat conversation available to the answering agent. The subscriber gets to use their desired communication channels, and this convenience doesn’t disrupt the agent’s workflow.
Tool recommendations: Gorgias and Gladly
Gorgias was built especially for subscriptions. One of its key features is allowing agents to be proactive in their support, not simply reactive.
For example, imagine a customer spends a set length of time on a product page. Gorgias can open a live chat window, and an agent (Frank) asks in real time if they have a question about the product.
Gladly is another support integration that displays a subscriber’s entire purchase history alongside a dashboard with a history of their support conversations.
Agents can see the subscriber’s lifetime value and use their product history to upsell or cross-sell.
Subscription integrations start with the customer and your capabilities
Subscription integrations can improve the experiences of your subscribers and potential subscribers, but phase them in gradually. If you’re not accustomed to loyalty marketing, for example, it can take time to hone your messaging and see how Yotpo interacts with your other integrations. You’ll eventually find the right mix that leads to reliable customer retention.
Now that you understand the importance of subscription integrations, you’re ready to start planning the launch of your subscription business. Read our next article to find out how.