How Leading eCommerce Brands Unlock Subscription Success
Simply put, some merchants have mastered their subscription experiences, while others have failed to even attain — much less retain — a double-digit subscriber count. Learning from those merchants who’ve already succeeded is the key to unlocking positive subscription results.
Ordergroove customers are leading the pack when it comes to subscription success by offering subscription experiences that turn one-time purchases into long-lasting relationships.
This helpful booklet details how leading retailers like Yankee Candle and D2C merchants Tata Harper and Ancestral Supplements launched successful subscription experiences. By learning from these real-world examples, you’ll realize your own subscription success story in no time.
How Yankee Candle Captured Consumer Demand for Subscriptions
No matter if the air smells of Basalm & Cedar during the holidays, MidSummer’s Night in summer or Clean Cotton year-round, Yankee Candle makes a space feel like home. With a unique 50-year history of creating mood-setting, long-lasting home fragrances, the Newell Brands company offers a wide range of distinctive products, from candles to ScentPlugs, gifts, and more. Season after season, Yankee Candle shares their customers’ passion for fragrance.
Meeting Customers Where They Are
In late 2019, Yankee Candle recognized that their consumers were just as comfortable shopping online as they were in brick-and-mortar stores. In response, the Massachusetts-based company determined that they wanted to meet their customers’ demand for an eCommerce experience by implementing a high-quality subscription program that offered unique promotions and reduced shipping fees.
The brand also recognized that a subscription offering enabled them to create a differentiated direct-to-consumer experience that would set them apart from other sites that sell their products.
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the program’s growth accelerated, as it became more convenient for customers to purchase items online rather than in store. This led to Yankee Candle expanding their subscription offerings to include discovery/seasonal subscription boxes.
Implementing a Frictionless Experience
Yankee Candle partnered with Ordergroove to implement Auto-Ship — their first subscription program — in November 2019. At first, Yankee Candle offered promotions on flameless items such as car and home fragrance products, but after the program’s initial success, the brand enhanced their offerings to include incentives for candles. Additionally, the brand offers a $10 free shipping threshold for subscription items.
A major component of Yankee Candle’s subscription offering is a frictionless customer experience. The brand’s customers have complete control over their subscriptions — from what items are included to where they ship and when. Customers can easily change the fragrance in their order online if they’d prefer to receive a different one for an upcoming subscription order.
To further enhance their customers’ experience, Yankee Candle aligned the start of their subscription program with the relaunch of their loyalty program. Today, loyalty program members receive 2x points on subscription purchases.
Yankee Candle’s subscription program saw immediate success. Orders increased 300% and spend increased 200%.
Fragrance Flights Soar
After the successful launch of their program, Yankee Candle worked with Ordergroove to expand and enhance their subscriber offerings to include curation. The Yankee Candle Fragrance Flight, a take on the beverage flights that you can get at a restaurant, prompts consumers to participate in a guided quiz that helps them select a box based on their fragrance preferences.
Curated boxes are shipped several times a year and include a mix of seasonal fragrances and familiar favorites. Within the first 11 weeks of the program, Yankee Candle sold through 87% of fall boxes.
By the Numbers
Yankee Candle’s subscription program and curated offering have enabled the brand to rapidly scale their online sales. Not only has their subscription offering generated recurring orders, but their fresh, new approach has delighted customers, forging a loyal customer base.
Building off the success of their subscription program, Yankee Candle plans to extend the fragrances that are available through their subscription offering to include their WoodWick line of products. They also plan to build on the success of their Fragrance Box.
KIND Snacks’ Must-Know Tactics to Increase Subscriber Acquisition
In 2019, KIND sought to strengthen their relationships with consumers by enhancing their website and strengthening their direct-to-consumer program. At the time, they were challenged by a homegrown subscription system that lacked flexibility, control, and functionality. KIND wanted to roll out a frictionless experience that reduced time to checkout and made ordering hassle free. To accomplish their goal, KIND implemented Ordergroove with their eCommerce platform.
KIND leveraged Ordergroove’s REST APIs to build a custom front-end and provide the exact customer experience they wanted, allowing shoppers to easily choose the products they love, including KIND’s popular Build Your Own Box experience.
Since partnering with Ordergroove, KIND’s subscription program has seen impressive results. Their subscriber base has grown by over 50%. Upsell conversion rates are as high as 21% and Average Order Value (AOV) has subsequently increased 24%.
The dramatic growth in KIND’s subscriber database came from leveraging Ordergroove’s best-in-class subscription promotions and incentives — 10% discount, free shipping, order flexibility, and a simple product swap feature.
KIND’s increase in AOV is attributed to implementing an Ordergroove feature that enables customers to easily add additional products into their upcoming subscription orders. This is leading to even higher lifetime value.
Tata Harper’s Tips for Delivering a VIP Subscriber Experience
In the past five years, subscriptions have moved from a nice-to-have customer experience to a requirement. Not only is there high consumer demand for subscriptions but forward-thinking merchants like Tata Harper have recognized the benefits of reliable, recurring revenue.
“I think subscription is a growing best practice in eCommerce,” said Shannon Wright, Tata Harper’s eCommerce Manager. “You need to have your products available to your clients when they want them and where they want them.”
In a recent webinar, Shannon spoke with Jamie Johns, Ordergroove’s Category Director for the Beauty vertical, about why the clean beauty brand launched a subscription program and the strategies the company uses to acquire and retain customers.
Below, we’ve rounded up highlights from the event. For more insights from Shannon and Jamie, watch From Luxury to Loyalty: How Tata Harper Achieved Subscription Success.
Tata Harper’s Subscription Journey
While Tata Harper’s subscription experience is a success today, the Vermont beauty brand spent years trying to find the right subscription platform to help them succeed.
Tata Harper first launched a subscription experience in 2017 and went through two subscription platforms before ultimately shutting down their program. Shannon said the company’s previous subscription platforms created a negative subscriber experience and eroded customer loyalty.
“We decided to go dark and needed to regain our clients’ trust by coming back better with a good program,” Shannon said.
Over months, Tata Harper’s team evaluated various subscription platforms and chose to relaunch their subscription experience with Ordergroove.
“We want a first-class experience for our clients and [our previous] program was not delivering,” Shannon said. “We were looking for a partner that had long-term growth and an idea on how to reward our clients for their loyalty through a program with good UX and a good experience.”
Shannon said Tata Harper was adamant that their new subscription solution provide a flexible subscription platform that would enable them to customize the shopping experience. They also desired a subscription partner that gave them access to experts who would help them achieve long-term goals.
“We wanted [the subscription platform] to adapt and grow as we grew,” Shannon said.
Strategies that Drive Acquisition and Retention
Since launching a subscription program with Ordergroove in 2019, Tata Harper has implemented a mix of standard and out-of-the-box strategies to attract shoppers and keep them from churning.
The beauty brand offers 10% off first orders and 15% off recurring orders. Additionally, they give high-value gifts to subscribers each month.
“The structure to do a lower discount first and a higher discount recurring is to encourage the second order to go through rather than to just sign up for 10% off,” Shannon said.
A key piece to Tata Harper’s strategy and their success is ensuring site visitors know about their subscription program.
The company highlights their subscription offering on their product detail pages (PDP) and in their checkout. Tata Harper also promotes subscriptions on their most popular web pages like their Best Sellers and Cleansers pages.
Jamie encouraged other merchants to follow Tata Harper’s example. “One thing we hear from customers is that they want their program to grow but when you go on their website you can’t find subscription anywhere except for the PDP,” she said.
While developing Tata Harper’s subscription strategy, Shannon said it was important to the brand that subscribers get the same benefits as non-subscribers.
“We are always offering a site-wide promotion with regular eCommerce orders so we wanted to make sure that clients who were part of the subscription program felt that they were also getting the benefits of these gifts with purchase,” Shannon said. “We’ve seen that as a really good retention strategy in making sure our subscribers feel special and that they aren’t missing out on things.”
One unique tactic Tata Harper uses is that they reward their top subscribers with high-value gifts. Once a year, Tata Harper sends their top 100 subscribers a thank-you card and a full-size product.
Tata Harper’s Subscription Success
How has Tata Harper’s subscription program performed?
Similar to other beauty brands, Tata Harper subscription program has seen significant growth in 2021.
On a year-over-year basis, Tata Harper’s gross merchandise value (GMV) is up 56% and their recurring revenue is up 112%. Also, their number of new subscriptions increased 27% during the same period.
“It’s super healthy for subscription,” Shannon said. “Each month I’m shocked.”
What Does the Future Look Like?
Looking to 2022 and beyond, Shannon said merchants should focus on retention and double down on testing so that they can deliver products in the way their clients want to receive them.
“If subscription isn’t part of your retention strategy, it definitely should be,” Shannon added.
For Tata Harper specifically, the brand is working on ways to incorporate a loyalty program into their subscription experience and test various retention rewards. They’re also going to explore using artificial intelligence (AI) through Ordergroove’s Anticipate AI feature.
The primary reason that Tata Harper subscribers cancel a subscription is overstock. Anticipate AI determines when a subscriber is at risk for cancelation because of overstock and sends them a message offering them to skip their next order. Our data shows that this preemptive communication can reduce churn by as much as 17%.
Igniting Recurrent Revenue Growth with CBDistillery’s Playbook
CBDistillery’s mission is to build a CBD movement by providing easy access to CBD products and educating consumers about the benefits of hemp-derived supplements. The subscription model is an ideal match for the needs of their customers, who get the best results when they use CBD daily.
Maximize Customer Health Benefits
To get the most health benefits out of CBD, users should stick to a daily regime. CBDistillery turned to subscriptions to make taking CBD supplements hassle-free.
“It was a natural fit for us to provide something that took the entire thought process out of having to order products on a 30- or 60-day basis when we were telling them to use the products every single day,” says CBDistillery VP of Marketing Ellese Symons.
Like most eCommerce companies, CBDistillery’s customer acquisition cost (CAC) has ballooned in the last several years so it was important to implement a subscription program that cultivated customer loyalty. They accomplished this by offering valuable incentives, giving subscribers complete control over their orders, and enabling shoppers to add additional items to their orders.
CBDistillery offers a generous 20% discount and free shipping on every subscription order, plus 25% off every third order.
“We can justify offering that because we’re teaching customers how to be a healthy CBD user,” Ellese says. “It makes it worth it for us in the long run, because we see repeat business over and over again.”
To encourage their subscribers to stay with them, CBDistillery uses Ordergroove’s robust retention tools. CBDistillery subscribers have complete control over their orders. They can easily pause, skip, or modify the frequency of their subscription.
CBDistillery is also finding success with personalized outreach to customers who cancel their subscriptions. After a cancelation, churned customers are targeted with automated win-back campaigns. The CBDistillery team even conducts one-on-one phone interviews with lapsed customers to learn why they churned and how they can improve their product offering.
CBDistillery’s efforts have resulted in an 89% retention rate.
“It’s been huge across the board for establishing loyalty for all of our customers,” Ellese says. “With a subscription program, we’ve been able to see a better return.”
To increase average order value, CBDistillery uses Instant Upsell, a feature on Ordergroove’s platform that encourages customers to add products to their subscription order. As a result, the company’s average order value has also increased.
CBDistillery was struggling to stay top of mind with their customers. Their team was spending countless hours drafting and sending emails to shoppers to remind them to restock their supplements.
“We were the ones trying to determine and message our customers about when they should be placing their next order,” Ellese says. “And one of the brilliant things about subscriptions is the power is now in the customer’s hands. They’re able to set the cadence that is the most appropriate for them or make changes to that subscription.”
By removing reorder friction, CBDistillery has been able to reallocate resources to acquiring new customers instead of retention. Without subscriptions, Ellese says CBDistillery’s retention would have remained “stagnant.”
Before they implemented a subscription program, CBDistillery saw an average 60-day return rate — two months between repeat customers’ orders. Now, it’s down to 40 days.
By the Numbers
After launching, CBDistillery’s subscription program grew rapidly. Today, the program represents a significant portion of the company’s eCommerce revenue.
Ancestral Supplement’s Guide for Picking the Right Subscription Platform
In 2020, Ancestral Supplements launched a new subscription program to build direct, recurring relationships with their customers. After a rocky start with their subscription solution provider, they migrated to Ordergroove to implement a superior subscription experience and a reliable platform that would help them succeed.
They moved quickly to launch a subscription program and partnered with a solution provider that used 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.
Despite serious hesitations about the viability of a hijacked checkout, Ancestral’s solution provider assured them that it wouldn’t add complexity to their subscription experience. This, however, wasn’t true. Ancestral’s subscription program barely launched before running into roadblocks.
Because of the subscription platform’s hijacked checkout, Ancestral Supplements was forced to duplicate their product catalog. Every time they wanted to update an SKU or run a promotion, they needed to do twice the work. This held Ancestral back from focusing on strategic initiatives.
The subscription platform’s hijacked checkout also stunted Ancestral’s growth. Because the checkout experience was off-site, Ancestral struggled to track and collect data, including purchases from their affiliates. As a result, Ancestral’s affiliates had no incentive to promote the company’s products because they wouldn’t receive a commission.
Making the Switch to Ordergroove
Within months, Ancestral knew they needed a new subscription platform. Following a thorough search, Ancestral migrated their fledgling subscription program to Ordergroove and was immediately delighted with the platform’s capabilities and company’s customer service.
With the help of Ordergroove’s implementation team, Ancestral easily migrated their subscriber base. Critically, Ancestral’s subscription program had zero downtime during the migration, ensuring a seamless subscriber experience.
“Ordergroove is a known entity — not just a couple of guys in a basement writing code,” said Ancestral Supplements CMO Carl Mixon. “Everything Ordergroove does is world-class, everyone Ordergroove works with is world-class, and I always want to go with the world-class provider.”
Improved Performance Thanks to Ordergroove
Unlike Ancestral’s old subscription platform, Ordergroove uses an integrated checkout. Subscribers aren’t sent offsite to complete their orders so Ancestral doesn’t have to worry about confusing their customers or maintaining a duplicate product catalog.
The migration also empowered Ancestral to track and collect data, which breathed life back into their affiliate program. “Now our affiliates earn commissions for all transactions, both subscriptions and non-subscriptions,” Carl said. “Of course, they want to help us more.”
Within four months of migrating their subscription program to Ordergroove, Ancestral saw a dramatic increase in performance, including a 21% increase in subscription enrollment.
Carl said his team is particularly happy with Ordergroove’s “log-in on behalf of” tool, which plays nicely with the company’s mission to deliver stellar customer service. The tool enables an Ancestral representative to log in to a subscriber account to adjust their order.
“Anything that makes it easier for a live person to guide a customer through the process is something we really like, and Ordergroove does that,” Carl said.
Want to be the next subscription success story?
Few subscription platforms deliver a subscription experience able to compete in the current market. Ordergroove is the exception. With more than 11 years of experience, Ordergroove offers an innovative subscription platform that empowers merchants to rapidly scale recurring revenue, deliver a superior subscriber experience, and maximize subscriber lifetime value.
The Ordergroove Difference
Ordergrooove’s platform enables merchants to rapidly scale recurring revenue, deliver a superior subscriber experience, and maximize subscriber lifetime value. Leading merchants utilize Ordergroove’s powerful tools, promotions, and AI-powered personalization to drive subscriber enrollment, optimize subscriber retention, and increase average order value.