In the era of digital everything, direct-to-consumer retail models have taken off as a convenient, personalizable response to the ever-shifting retail landscape. 

It’s no wonder that subscriptions have changed the DTC game–they make shopping in plenty of industries more personal, convenient, and cost-effective. So how do the standout DTC brands make the most of their subscription services? Recently, Gartner took a look at the top ten DTC brands (including Dollar Shave Club, Ipsy, and more) and noted the traits that these successful retailers all have in common (and even though Gartner doesn’t mention it, merchants with retail stores can get the same subscription enrollment — without a quiz, since they have a store associate right there asking the questions).

To stand out in the DTC sphere, it’s essential for brands to have these measures in place. The top ten retailers were qualified by the current number of subscribers to their recurring revenue programs; a feature that it’s important to note serves brick and mortar stores as well. In the meantime, the standout sellers featured the following:

  1. Guided selling quizzes: 70% of top brands offered a product quiz to ensure maximum personalization. The quizzes average to be about nine questions in length, and 60% let potential customers take the quiz before creating an account. Quizzes tend to take the place of an interaction a customer would have with a sales associate at an actual store.
  2. Free shipping: 80% of the brands offered free shipping on their product, so customers were not later discouraged by added fees.
  3. Transparency about cancellation options on the PDP: 90% of the most successful brands gave consumers extremely clear instructions on how to cancel their service at any time, should the customer feel so inclined. Customers are able to confidently subscribe, knowing that they won’t be stuck with the product if their budget or needs should change.
  4. Incentives: 40% of top DTC brands offered extra incentives for signing up, like a discounted first order or free gift. 

The top D2C brands cover a variety of categories from HelloFresh (grocery delivery) to Barkbox (dog treats) to Dollar Shave Club (razors). But they all are extremely proficient in the tactics outlined above, which has allowed them to stand out in a world where customers demand an increasing level of convenience from retail brands. 

Interestingly enough, many, if not all of these tactics are relevant to brick and mortar retailers as well. Take Vitamin Shoppe’s – an Ordergroove client that’s had huge success translating their store presence into a successful subscription offering. 

In fact, in the first 6 months after launch, Vitamin Shoppe’s subscriber growth outpaced Netflix.  “The service seems to be resonating with users so far,” Sam Norpel, The Vitamin Shoppe’s general manager of digital commerce, told PYMNTS.com.  “Compared to other subscription services — even Netflix — our subscriptions have exceeded those [rates] through the first six months of the program’s existence.” 

The Vitamin Shoppe is a wonderful example of a brick-and-mortar store that’s leveraged DTC best practices like subscription services to skyrocket recurring revenue. Want to learn more? Contact our sales team, or check out this story to hear more about how DTC tactics are transforming retail.