With subscription services on the rise across the world, implementing this model into your business can have a positive effect on your revenue – if done correctly. While subscriptions can offer peace of mind with recurring revenue and customer loyalty, they aren’t right for every business.
If you want to implement a subscription service into your business, it’s crucial to understand what it is, the different types you can offer, and the steps you should take to set it up. Without proper planning, a subscription service can fail. I’m going to walk you through exactly how to create one below – to set you up for success.
What Is a Subscription Service and Why Should You Offer One?
A subscription service is a business model where a business provides ongoing goods or services to a customer on a regular basis. You probably are most familiar with subscriptions to software or streaming services like Adobe or Spotify, but subscriptions can work for a wide variety of businesses, including subscription box companies like Barkbox and Blue Apron.
Offering a subscription service can be a great option for many business owners. A few of the benefits include:
- Predictable revenue – with customers spending the same amount each payment cycle, you can more easily forecast your earnings and determine inventory needs.
- Upfront payments – subscription services are usually paid for upfront, which means more cash on hand for your business operating costs, providing a nice buffer.
- Less customer acquisition costs – retaining new customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones and subscription services provide a great opportunity to better retain existing customers.
- Easier add-ons and upsells – once a customer knows your subscription service and trusts it, it’s easier to get them to purchase additional offerings.
Different Types of Subscription Services
There are four main types of subscription services.
Curated Subscription Boxes
Curated subscription boxes are extremely popular these days. From food products to puzzles and books, this type of subscription service works for a wide variety of businesses.
Every week/month/quarter, you send a curated box with a product or products that fit your customer’s interests. Depending on the specifics, they may choose the products, or it may be random based on their preferences.
Examples of this type of subscription service include:
- Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and other meal delivery kits
- Ipsy, Stitch Fix, and Beauty Fix for fashion and beauty products
- Book of the Month and Barkbox for specific interest groups
The replenishment model of subscription services works best for products that are used and need replacing frequently – like cleaning supplies, paper goods, or pantry staples. It’s all about providing convenience and value to the customer, often at a discounted price than they can’t find elsewhere.
This type of model includes:
- Dollar Shave Club for razors and accessories
- Quip toothbrushes
- ‘Subscribe and Save’ options like on Amazon
One of the most traditional types of subscription services is the publication model. The publication model provides customers with a physical or online publication, usually daily, weekly, or quarterly. Customers pay a recurring fee – often annually, but sometimes monthly – to receive the publication.
This may include:
- Local newspapers delivered each morning
- Literary or academic journals released quarterly
- Magazines issued monthly
Unlike curation and replenishment models, access subscription is mainly used for services and digital goods. With an access model, customers pay for continued access to a software, platform, member-only perks, or content. For access models, there may be free tiers and paid tiers with varying levels of access or support.
The a few common access models include:
- Streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+
- Eats Pass (Uber Eats) and Dash Pass (Doordash)
- Patreon that allows you to support online content creators
- The New York Times for news, puzzles, and games
4 Steps to Set Up a Subscription Service
1. Research Your Market
Once you’ve decided a subscription service makes sense for your business, you’ll want to do some research into what already exists in your market. Find competing businesses and look at their pricing, their reviews, and the specific ways they market their products or services.
If you’re using an access model, compare different companies to see what features or options they offer at various tiers. If you’re opting for a curation model, see what products your competition is including.
Additionally, look at reviews to see how people perceive these companies and if there are any pain points you can address in your own offerings. Researching your market will help you get a clearer and more robust picture of how your subscription might fare.
2. Figure Out Your Offerings
No matter which subscription type you go with, you’ll need to clearly lay out the products or services that will be included in the subscription. If you plan on offering curated boxes monthly, you’ll need to have a line of different products to ensure your customers aren’t constantly getting repeated products, or it might lead to churn.
Additionally, if you are offering replenishment, you’ll need to ensure your suppliers have enough inventory to spend out the allocated amounts every subscription period. These will need to arrive in a timely manner, or the convenience for customers goes away.
Finally, if you’re offering digital services or content, you’ll want to lay out exactly what your customers will have access to, especially if you plan on offering different tiers. It should be clear before a customer signs up exactly what they’ll get with a subscription.
3. Define Pricing and Conditions
Next, you’ll want to set the prices and determine the conditions for your subscriptions. The first thing you’ll need to do is determine the relative value of the products and find a good profit margin, especially if you are offering curated boxes with different products.
Then you’ll want to determine payment periods for customers. Many subscriptions run on a monthly basis, but they could also run on a weekly or quarterly basis, depending on the offerings you’re providing. The prices and terms of payment should be clearly laid out on your website for potential customers.
You may also want to offer discounts for longer subscription terms. For instance, if your monthly subscription costs $10/month, you could offer a 10% discount for those that subscribe annually and pay upfront at a cost of $108 for the year. It’s not significant, but it can add value to your customer and give you a guaranteed customer.
4. Launch Your Subscription Service
After you’ve set up all the logistics, it’s time to launch your subscription service. Market it to customers (if you already have a business) and use social media and advertising to further reach your new target clients.
As you start obtaining customers, ask them for feedback and don’t be afraid to tweak offerings or products as you go. Customers often will have ideas that you maybe hadn’t thought of, which can help further define your subscription and retain existing customers.
How to Provide Your Subscribers with the Best Checkout Experience
Most customers look to subscription services as a painless and easy way to get the products they know or discover new ones. Since convenience is a huge factor in maintaining subscriptions, you want to ensure your customers have a smooth checkout experience every time.
Pay.com offers a secure, convenient way for customers to pay directly through your website. With customizable checkout pages, you have the option to pick the payment methods that are right for your business. Some of the payment options include credit and debit cards, ACH, Apple Pay, PayPal, and more.
Offering a variety of payment methods means that customers can pay how they want – a great way to add convenience to their customer experience. Plus, because Pay.com offers the highest levels of security, customers can be confident in entering in their payment details without worry.
The Bottom Line: Is a Subscription Service Right for Your Business?
Subscription services can be a great choice for many businesses today as they continue to grow in popularity. Whether you sell clothing, food, software, or other products, almost anything can be sold as a subscription service.
Getting a subscription service set up does take a bit of upfront work, especially if you don’t already sell the products for the subscription. However, after it’s running, it can be a great recurring revenue stream that allows you to more easily predict your income, while providing value to your customers.
With Pay.com, you can make the checkout process seamless and convenient for customers looking to become subscribers. You can integrate Pay.com’s secure and customizable checkout pages directly onto your website for a fast, convenient way to subscribe.