How to Sell Subscriptions on Shopify – 7 Steps

sell subscriptions on shopify guide

Written by Adriana Pope

April 5, 2021

So you want to sell subscriptions on Shopify? Great. You’ve come to the right place. In this article we are going to go over everything you need to know to get up and running.

Subscriptions are huge these days. They are leading the way in ecommerce sales. It’s important to make sure you can set up your store so that you offer recurring payments.

When a customer orders a subscription product, they will be charged on a recurring basis for getting frequent deliveries.

Why sell subscriptions on Shopify?

Subscriptions can grow your online store by increasing your sales and revenue.

By selling subscriptions on Shopify, you offer your customers many more payment options, which can help your chances at landing a sale.

The number one reason people sell subscriptions on Shopify is to earn recurring revenue. This is repeatable, predictable income.

Knowing how much you’ll make next month is super helpful when running a business!

Another reason people sell subscriptions on Shopify is because they can increase their sales.

Instead of having a shopper buy a product once, and perhaps never again…subscriptions are a repeat order. Once they sign up, they are making repeat orders forever (until their subscription ends or is cancelled).

sell subscriptions on shopify tutorial

1. Think of your Niche market

There are lots of online stores these days and the competition is stiff. If you’re thinking of opening up a new store and selling a subscription product, we recommend going after a niche.

A niche is a smaller community of like-minded folks who are passionate about a certain topic. An example can be beard products, dog clothing, bird feeders, Eco-conscious home goods.

For example, a beauty store is quite broad, but a natural beauty store is a bit more focused.

Niches are a wonderful way to get your foot in the door and start targeting a more focused group of individuals.

Think of your niche of products that you want to start selling. Make a list of your top 5 choices and then narrow it down to your best idea.

Don’t forget to research your competition! It’s okay to do the same thing as other folks but you want to make sure your product is 10x better,

Key questions to ask yourself:

  • How many competitors are in this space currently?
  • Who are my top 3 competitors?
  • What is my unique offering?
  • Is there a remarkable element about my product?
  • How can I be 10x better than my competition?
build online store subscriptions shopify

Build an online store using Shopify

The next step is to build your online store if you don’t already have one. We recommend using Shopify which is the world’s leading ecommerce platform.

Whether you are selling food and drinks, jewelry, beauty and cosmetics, fashion apparel, or any other product…Shopify can help you bring your business online.

They offer a a free 14 day trial so you can see if you like using them or not.

The best thing about Shopify is that you can build an online store without any coding knowledge. It works right out of the box, and you can have your store up and running within a couple minutes.

Shopify officially has over 1,000,000 businesses in 175 countries around the world. They have processed over $200 billion USD in sales using Shopify which makes them the best.

Create your online store with a platform that is going to be around for the long-haul. In fact, Shopify just surpassed eBay and is currently competing head to head with Amazon.

how to sell subscriptions ecommerce store

Choose a Subscription Model

There are three major subscription models you can choose from. They are: replenishment, curation, and access.

If you plan to sell subscriptions on Shopify, you’ll need to figure out what subscription model your subscription product falls under.

Replenishment is popular with consumable products that need to be refilled. Once the customer is out of something, they need it to be replenished, hence the name. This is great for body care products, hygienics, beauty and cosmetics, food and pantry items, or pretty much anything that you are going to use up and need more of.

Curation is basically a subscription box of sorts. The idea is that you will be hand-picking products that go in a box so customers can discover new products every delivery. Curation helps customer explore and discover new products.

Lastly, there’s access which gives customers a membership to a website, service, or digital product. Access subscriptions are also known as online memberships. An example of this is Netflix, Thrive Market, and Amazon Prime. These companies give you perks and member-only benefits for signing up on a subscription basis.

best subscription app shopify ongoing

Pick a Subscription app

Now that you have your website up, you will need to pick out a Shopify subscription app.

We recommend using Ongoing which is the best Shopify subscriptions app.

It’s CPI compliant which means its ultra safe for processing payments online and receiving recurring revenue.

This part is necessary because without a subscription app, you won’t be able to offer a subscription product. The app will handle everything from processing recurring payments through Shopify payments to dealing with declined credit cards.

The app is also needed to transform your ordinary product into a product that is available on a repeat basis.

An app like Ongoing can help your store by letting you create multiple subscription plans and display these on your product page.

A subscription widget not only displays your subscription plans but also displays discounts, new reduced pricing and other information related to recurring transactions.

create subscription product

Create your Subscription Product

Now here’s the fun part. If you want to sell subscriptions on Shopify, an important part of this process is creating your first subscription product.

You can do this using an app like Ongoing which will handle everything for you.

Using Ongoing, you can get up and running with three clicks.

First you’ll need to create a subscription plan. This just states how often the product deliveries are (weekly, monthly, quarterly).

This will vary depending on what type of product you are selling. You’ll use your best judgement to figure out how often customers will want your products delivered to their door.

You can also decide how often the customer will get billed. Is it a pre-paid plan (pay upfront now and get monthly deliveries) or a pay-per-delivery plan?

Second, you’ll need to select your products that you want to make available as a subscription.

And lastly, a subscription widget will display these new purchase options on your product page.

sell subscriptions on shopify

Brainstorm Pricing & Shipping

When you sell subscriptions on Shopify, one of the most important parts of the puzzle is figuring out a good pricing model.

You want to make sure you create subscription plans that have the following attractive elements.

You want to offer competitive pricing for your subscription product, not too cheap and not too expensive.

For example, If a natural beauty store sold cream for $25 a jar that seems acceptable but perhaps $100 is just way too much. And remember, it’s okay to experiment with pricing!

Part of your pricing model is creating a good discount that will be hard to turn down. For example, 20% off the regular price if you subscribe to this product on a monthly basis.

Discounts on subscription orders is a great incentive for increasing your overall order size. Instead of getting the shopper to order an item once, you now have a life-long customer.

Subscribers agree to have their credit card charged on an automatic repeat basis to receive your products. This is gold, so don’t miss the opportunity to offer a discount to gain a new customer.

You will also need to figure out your shipping logistics. What shipping company is the best to deliver your products safely and on time?

We recommend checking out the big hitters like USPS, UPS, DHL Express and FedEx. All of these companies except FedEx offer free packaging which can help cut down on your overall costs.

✅ Plus, check out this nifty the Shopify Shipping Checklist.

sell subscriptions on shopify recurring payments

Start selling subscriptions on Shopify

This is a very exciting time! Now you’re ready to start accepting your first subscription orders.

The best advise I can give you is don’t delay your launch. Your website is never going to be perfect, it will always be a work in progress and that’s okay.

Get your first version of your website up, and make it better over time little by little…and that is how you will succeed.

Take a look at your website a minimum of every week (if this is your side hustle) and everyday (if this is your full time gig). Make sure everything looks as it should be. Click buttons and pretend you’re a customer so you can make sure things work properly.

Test your site speed and make sure photos are loading quickly. Grab a phone and tablet and test your site on mobile versions to see how it looks and responds to button clicks.

You’ll also need to come up with a marketing plan for your product. This will help you get in-front of as many people as possible so you develop a sales funnel and increase revenue.

Try to get your online store known to as many people as possible through word of mouth, email marketing, interviews, and advertisements. You can also work on your long-term Shopify SEO strategy to start getting rich snippets to display on Google search results.

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