Best Shopify Subscription Box App Guide

shopify subscription box

Written by Adriana Pope

May 12, 2021

Are you looking for a Shopify Subscription box app and aren’t sure which one is the best? We’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’ll explore which Shopify Subscription Box app is best for your store.

We will deep dive into an overview of what type of features you’ll need for your subscription box.

Topics covered:

  • What is a Shopify subscription box?
  • Shopify Subscription Box Types
  • How to Create a Shopify Subscription Box Business
  • Shopify Subscription Box Business Example
  • Best Shopify Subscription Box App?
  • Subscription Discounts Help Boost Sales
  • 5 Common Shopify Subscription Box Pitfalls to Avoid
  • The Goldilocks Rule – Shopify Subscription Box Pricing
  • Shopify Subscription Box Pros & Cons
  • Do you need an Investment to create a Shopify Subscription Box Business?
  • How much does it cost to start up a Subscription Box?

What is a Shopify subscription box?

A Shopify subscription box business is when you sell a product on a recurring basis, usually at a discount.

Your customers can place a subscription order and enjoy deliveries of that product on a repeat basis.

Subscription boxes are delivered to customers on a regular basis like weekly, monthly or quarterly. This helps you the merchant earn recurring revenue.

Customers get their items and pay on a recurring basis. All of the billing happens behind the scenes automatically using a Shopify subscription app.

Customers can save money by opting for a recurring subscription which makes them super popular.

Shopify Subscription Box Types

A subscription box is usually filled with hand curated or hand picked products. Customers enjoy receiving a subscription box for two main reasons: refills and discovery.

Refills means customers enjoy the convenience of getting a refill on a consumable product they use regularly (example: coffee)

Discovery means customers have fun exploring new curated products with every shipment.

Here’s a list of product types for a subscription box:

  • Socks
  • Tampons
  • Shaving Razors and Grooming
  • Eco Home Cleaning Supplies
  • Toothbrushes
  • Snacks (choose a nationality or theme)
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Craft Supplies
  • Underwear
  • Flowers
  • Makeup and Beauty Products
  • Skin Care
  • Vitamins
  • Protein Powders
  • Superfoods
  • Books
  • Wine, Beer, Alcohol
  • Women’s Clothing
  • Men’s Clothing
  • Baby Toys
  • Pet Food

How to Create a Shopify Subscription Box Business

shopify online shop price plans

1.) Open up a Shopify Store

You can open up a Shopify store easily for under $30! Check out these killer plans and they even offer a 30 day free trial. (We’ll cover more costs later on in this article)

2.) Build a Subscription Box

You can create a prototype (show a picture of an example box on your website and tell customers what types of products they can expect). In this example below, Allure subscription box shows customers a general idea of what they get.

shopify subscription box prototype

3.) Install a Shopify Subscription app, like Ongoing

You’ll need to use an app to get subscriptions working on Shopify. Ongoing is a Shopify subscription box app. It gives you everything you need to set up your subscription product and start accepting recurring orders.

ongoing subscriptions shopify app

4.) Set up a Subscription Group with Plans

You will create a group of subscription plans. A subscription plan lets you define exactly how customers can purchase your products (delivery & billing frequency and a special subscription discount). You can add multiple options like monthly, quarterly, yearly. Think about how often your customers might want to re-order your products automatically. These subscription plans will get displayed on the product page.

shopify subscription plans

5.) Add a product to your subscription group – Choose a product you want to become a subscription. By choosing a specific subscription box and associating it to the group and plans, now your subscription box is LIVE!

create shopify subscription box

6.) Optimize Your Subscription Box Product Page – It’s a good idea to take a look at what your subscription box looks like on your website on both desktop and mobile. You can optimize your product page by making sure you write a nice description, use a clear product title, and use high quality product images.

shopify subscription box business example

Shopify Subscription Box Example

Here is an example of a Shopify store selling a subscription product, a cookie box.

By using the Ongoing app, this website can easily offer subscription plans on their product page.

Check out how the customer can select Subscribe & Save and choose a delivery frequency and discount.

The subscription box can be purchased either weekly, monthly or quarterly.

Also, the newly discounted price is calculated in any currency and displayed.

best subscription app shopify ongoing

Best Shopify Subscription Box App?

The best Shopify subscription box app is Ongoing. It’s a great way to get started selling subscription boxes on your online shop.

Ongoing is PCI compliant which means it uses a safe and secure way to process your payments. They use the Shopify Billing API so everything is 100% integrated with Shopify for your protection.

Ongoing is perfect for selling physical products on your online store. The app automatically invoices your customer, collects recurring payments and keeps track of your recurring orders.

This Shopify subscription app is simple to use, but effective.
With Ongoing, you’ll be able to offer and collect recurring payments on your shop.

You can easily add subscription plans for your subscription box. These subscription plans will instantly display on your product page. Your customers will be able to choose from the different shipping frequencies.

Subscription Discounts Help Boost Sales

When shopping around for a Shopify subscription app make sure you get one that has discounts. Being able to create automatic discounts for your subscription boxes is going to make a huge difference.

Offering subscription discounts can boost your sales, increase revenue, and earn you more profit.

Subscription discounts let you offer reduced pricing on recurring orders.

Discounts encourage customers to choose a subscription plan so they can save money.

For example, Ongoing offers three different types of subscription discounts. Fixed amount off, percentage and set price.

Discounts are helpful for convincing shoppers to subscribe so they can get a good deal.

Normally with subscription discounts, the longer the commitment, the higher the discount can be.

Discounts are totally optional, you don’t have to use them.

You can still run a very successful subscription box business without them. An example of this would be Dollar Shave Club who has a set price for their razor blade subscription boxes.

Ongoing makes subscription discounts completely optional. They are available as a marketing tactic in case you want to create an extra incentive for shoppers to become a subscriber.

5 Common Shopify Subscription Box Pitfalls to Avoid

1) Don’t Over-Price Your Shopify Subscription Box

One of the most common mistakes subscription box owners do is overprice their item. If an item is too expensive, you’re going to have a lower conversion rate. The world of subscription boxes is highly competitive so the idea is to have a lower price, and sell a higher volume.

2) Try your best to offer Free Shipping

Have you ever placed an item in a cart and then found out you have to paid for shipping? This usually causes the customer to abandon their cart. This is avoidable. Calculate how much shipping will cost you and then include it in your price. This gives customers a smoother transactional experience.

3) Leverage the power of Discounts

There are a million reasons why subscription discounts work, they just do. Everyone likes getting a bargain price and saving money. First start with asking yourself how much you want the end product to cost and then work backwards. If you want to add a 10% off discount, make your starting price for a single purchase price 10% more.

4) Use a Secure Shopify Subscription Box App

Finding the “right” Shopify subscription box app can be a little tricky. You’ll want to make sure the one you select for your store is secure and safe. Since Ongoing is fully 100% integrated with the Shopify API billing system, you can rest assured you’re in good hands. Made in California with love, this super powerful and easy to use app is perfect for getting started or scaling up an already existing subscription business.

5) Branding is everything


When your customer receives their box, what is their experience like? Try mailing yourself your own subscription box and see what it feels like to open it up and see the products inside. Take note of what can be improved. Branding is your way of showing the world what your company is all about. Make sure your subscription box branding is memorable and unique.

The Goldilocks Rule – Shopify Subscription Box Pricing

If you’re having a hard time figuring out pricing on your subscription box, here’s a helpful tip.

When Goldilocks ate the porridge inside the bears house, there were three temperatures. One was one too hot, one was too cold and the last one was ‘just right.’

When a shopper views the subscription pricing plans for your Shopify subscription box, they are going to want to find the perfect one.

The Goldilocks Rule means the pricing is just right in the middle.

Have a more expensive plan like yearly can make your lower priced plans look more attractive.

We recommend having a low-cost plan like monthly and then your middle pricing can be quarterly.

Make this pricing attractive on the middle priced plan so people can opt for it.

By making the price in the middle more alluring, shoppers will opt for it. This can bring more revenue to your company. The idea is to direct shoppers to choose your middle priced plan which is a bigger subscription commitment.

By using discounts, you can make your middle priced plan the most popular one.

“I repriced every product to include a bit of shipping costs and offered free shipping on orders over $55.00 to build a higher average order. “
~ Sheena Brady, Founder/Owner Tease Tea

Shopify Subscription Box Pros & Cons

There are a lot of upsides to creating your very own Shopify subscription box, but there are also a couple challenges to think about. I’ll cover the top benefits as well as discuss some cons.

Pros of Shopify Subscription Box

Recurring Revenue – When customers place a recurring order on a product, this earns you recurring revenue. This is money flowing in on a regular basis into your merchant bank account. Having repeat customers with subscriptions is the best way to grow your store and scale your profit.

Automated Recurring Billing – If you are wondering how your recurring payments are processed for subscription products, the answer is a Shopify subscription app. The app will take care of things like recurring payments and follow up with customers automatically if there is a failed credit card charge.

Low Overhead Costs – Having an online store where customers can buy all of your products is a cost effective way to start our your Shopify subscription business. You can launch a prototype, run some ads and see if people bite. Without the hassle of paying rent on a physical location, this frees of your money to spend it on marketing and sales.

Limited Range of Products – If you create your own product line, creating a subscription box is a great way to increase sales. The beauty of having a limited range of products is not having to keep track of a huge inventory. You can reap the benefits of having customers placing recurring orders on those single items.

Predictable Revenue – Knowing how much approximately you will be making next month as an online shop is very valuable. It gives you peace of mind. Having huge spikes and dips in sales can be very stressful. Subscriptions harness the power of recurring payments. This helps you create a reliable and steady income revenue.

Cons of Shopify Subscription Box

Cash Flow – Having enough money to in the beginning to place large inventory orders can be a sticky situation. We recommend sharing your subscription box idea with friends and family for the first couple months to produce income. You can also raise money on a crowd funding website like Kickstarter which is great for marketing and getting the word out!

Churn – One danger of having a subscription box business is facing churn. This is when people fall off, and cancel their subscriptions or memberships. The goal is to fight churn rate by trying to retain as many customers as possible.

Inventory Control – If you’re thinking about creating a curated box, keeping track of what you have in stock and need to order might be a tad time consuming.

Shipping – The USA offers great pricing for shipping but what if you are doing business outside the States? Make sure to accurately calculate shipping costs as this is a huge overhead cost. Also calculate expenses like packaging and labels and inserts into your overall costs before deciding on product pricing.

Do you need an Investment to create a Subscription Box Business?

Nope.

You can bootstrap your business. Bootstrapping means your company doesn’t take any outside investments.

In other words, you don’t take money from folks.

Danny from Bokksu started his company with the money in his pocket and with the help of family.

“Up until now, we’re actually still completely bootstrapped. Certainly, I put a little bit of money in myself, and I got a little bit of family money, but in terms, we haven’t gotten any traditional investments of sorts yet.”

Danny Taing, Bokksu

The idea is if you have a good company, and grow it, the money will come in. No need to look for an investor at this point. First create a proof of concept, then scale your business, and then you can decide later on if you need investors.

Trust in yourself. Be careful with what you spend your money on – frugality is key.

How much does it cost to start up a Subscription Box?

Very little.

Creating a Shopify store is literally free for the first 30 days. And after the free trial period, it costs roughly $29 per month.

Once you have your online store set up, you’re ready to sell your subscription boxes.

Some other costs to think about are listed in full detail in our guide, How to Start a Subscription Box.

Expenses include packaging, shipping, product prototyping, inventory, labels, and inserts.
There is also the expense of Shopify apps which can help enhance the platforms capability with marketing, sales and SEO tools.

Sheena Brady from Tease Tea started her subscription box company with only a couple hundred bucks.

“I had the basics of my store set up in less than 24 hours and placed my first inventory order with just $500.00.”

– Sheena Brady, Tease Tea

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