Subscriptions 101:

A Go-To Guide to Subscription Commerce for Agencies

Launching or migrating an eCommerce subscription experience and growing it can feel like an insurmountable task. That’s why your friends at Ordergroove put together this overview about subscription commerce. By the time you finish reading this document, you’ll have the knowledge you need to be your accounts’ subscription expert.


Understand the Different Types of Subscriptions

Did you know there are multiple types of subscriptions? Make sure your merchant accounts are implementing the correct type for their goals and business objectives.

Make the subscription program the first introduction to your product offering.

Subscription Type Definition Pros Cons Examples
Subscribe & Save
  • Provides regular delivery of a product 
  • Involves a discount for reordering
  • High conversion & retention rates
  • Less operational complexity
  • Requires top-notch acquisition and retention strategies to thrive
  • The Honest Company
  • Peet’s Coffee
  • Tata Harper
  • Send varying products to subscribers
  • Best for niche brands
  • Higher average order value than other experiences
  • High churn rates
  • Increased operations to source products
  • Blue Apron
  • Stitch Fix
  • Claire’s Cdrop
  • Provides VIP access to products, resources, and experiences to customers
  • Common with omnichannel businesses
  • Flexibility to tailor experience based on customer needs

  • Continual updates required to stay relevant


  • Costco
  • GNC

Educate Yourself on the Benefits of a Subscription Experience

Consumer demand for subscriptions is at an all-time high (up 37% YoY!). Here are 5 reasons why merchants might be interested in launching a subscription experience:

1) Reliable, recurring revenue — enabling merchants to better plan for the future.

2) Increased customer lifetime value, which offsets high customer acquisition costs

3) Improved inventory forecasting and a better understanding of reordering volume

4) Repeat customer data leads to an optimized buying experience

5) Companies with recurring revenue are valued 8X higher than transaction-based businesses.


Must-Have Subscription Commerce Capabilities

Worried your merchant accounts are interested in or currently have a subscription experience that can’t compete in the growing subscription commerce market? Here are 7 must-have capabilities to assure they see subscription success.

Promotional Capabilities

  • A 5% Discount Feature increases enrollment by 104%
  • Not having a Free Shipping feature is a deal-breaker for 85% of shoppers
  • Incentivize customers opting into more subscription offers with a Subscribe More, Save More offer.
  • Let customers add one-time purchases to their recurring orders with Cross-Selling.
bareMinerals offers a deeper discount and more loyalty points per order based on a subscriber’s active subscriptions.

Retention Capabilities

  • It’s a must-have to let your customers skip, pause, change, or cancel their subscriptions through a Subscription Management Portal.
  • Reward subscribers after a set number of reorders with Retention Rewards.
  • Operation Tools to swap out-of-stock items and refresh credit card information minimize unnecessary churn.


The Honest Company utilizes a $20 free shipping threshold.


Recommend These Strategies to See Subscription Success

If your merchant has the required capabilities to compete, it’s time to recommend an equally competitive subscription commerce strategy!

Enrollment Strategies

  • Clearly stating the benefits of subscription enrollment can lift conversion by 150%.
  • Add enrollment points throughout the shopping experience: PDPs, Shopping Carts, and Quick Views.
  • Implement a guided selling experience to recommend subscriptions to relevant products.
honest screenshot
Shoppers want flexibility and control over their subscription experience.

Retention Strategies

Flexible program management leads to higher retention rates:

  • SKU skipping leads to 135% longer subscriptions.
  • SKU swapping increases subscription length by 71%.
  • Turn subscriptions into a VIP experience with subscription rewards and loyalty programs.


The Honest Company utilizes a $20 free shipping threshold.


A Reminder That Marketing Goes a Long Way.

Even the best subscription experience will only see moderate growth without promotion and marketing. Make sure your merchants are doing the following marketing tactics for subscription growth:

Email marketing to alert current customers

Influencer partnerships for promotion

Blog posts and videos that highlight subscription offers

A dedicated landing page for subscription enrollment

Information about subscriptions on their homepage


Know We’re Here to Help!

Still have questions or need help with one of your merchant accounts? Don’t hesitate to reach out to Ordergroove and our team of subscription experts.

Just go to to request a callback or email us at


The Honest Company utilizes a $20 free shipping threshold.

Looking for a merchant-friendly version of this guide?

Check out Ordergroove’s The Beginner’s Guide to Subscription Commerce.