A powerful and growing feature in the e-commerce world is the subscription. Rather than a one-time checkout, the subscription feature lets consumers sign up for on-going deliveries of a product. When implemented effectively, this feature is a robust tool that provides businesses with recurring revenues while offering convenience for consumers.
E-commerce websites that sell healthy foods and supplements can benefit greatly from embracing the subscription feature. This is because consumers that shop for healthy foods or supplements are often motivated beyond discounts and convenience.
They’re hopeful that a commitment to an on-going subscription will be an investment in their future selves. This mindset is a golden opportunity for healthy food and supplement businesses to capture a class of consumers that will gladly commit to a recurring purchase.
Below we’ve identified six tactics that are essential for implementing a great e-commerce subscription experience.
1. Make subscription options easy to see
It sounds obvious, but the first step to encouraging shoppers to entertain a subscription is to make the option visible. This means a consumer shouldn’t have to take an action (i.e. place a product in the cart or select a dropdown) in order to see that a subscription option exists.
Ideally, a shopper should be able to glance at a product page, scan the price and quantity dropdown, and quickly see that subscriptions are being offered.
2. Incentivize with discounts and savings
Coupling subscription options with discounts may appeal to consumers who need a monetary benefit to push them towards a decision. To effectively promote the savings advantage of a subscription, it’s critical to clearly show the comparison of the amount saved at point of purchase.
Aloha, which sells a green juice powder and nutrition supplements, offers three tiers of savings on its subscriptions. The Monthly plan saves 10% while a Prepay plan lets customers pay upfront for 3 or 6 months of product for a larger discount. On the product page, Aloha compares the original and discounted prices and also includes the percentage saved.
3. Suggest a subscription plan
Help shoppers, especially new ones, take the first step by suggesting a plan. Recommending a plan significantly simplifies the decision making process while also providing consumers with a level of reassurance that they’re picking the “right” option.
This can be achieved by highlighting a “Most Popular” plan as Pressed Juicery does on its subscription page or by defaulting to a “Most Common” option on a dropdown menu, as Amazon does for the Tanka Bar.
4. Inspire and educate with copy
Aspirational headlines, benefit-oriented product descriptions, and educational blog posts encourage shoppers to associate the act of purchasing a subscription with investing in a healthy lifestyle.
22 Days Nutrition is a vegan meal and plant-based protein brand devoted to helping people build and maintain healthier eating habits. The site pairs motivational headlines with product photography to reinforce the idea that becoming healthier requires discipline and consistency in routine.
The site also features a subscription plan called the 22 Days Challenge Kit, which includes protein products, recipe e-books and shopping lists. Naming the subscription plan as a “challenge” and describing it as a “revolution” adds a motivational component to the shopping experience that speaks directly to a consumer looking to improve their health.
5. Reward shoppers for creating a new habit
Giving rewards to shoppers who’ve committed to a purchase can help lock in future purchases and encourage a habit loop. This provides companies opportunities to engage their customers and build brand loyalty over time.
Onnit sells supplements and fitness equipment, and is popular within the bio-hacking and strength-training community. Its e-commerce rewards program is a good example of how a subscription feature can also work as a brand loyalty tool. On the Onnit Rewards account page, shoppers can earn points and badges from purchases. The gamification aspect of this page rewards shoppers for their achievements and incentivizes future purchases.
6. Keep subscription management flexible
The ability to easily manage and edit subscriptions online, rather than by phone or email, benefits both existing and potential subscribers.
For an existing subscriber, the ability to temporarily suspend a delivery or adjust the variety or quantity of the order provides a level of personalization to their shopping experience. This level of customization may promote long-term satisfaction and encourage retention. For potential subscribers, the versatility of the plan reduces the fear of being bound to a subscription.
Consumers are looking to make long-term changes to their lives when they purchase healthy food and supplement products. Implemented thoughtfully, the subscription feature can help businesses tap into this consumer motive.
For e-commerce businesses looking to develop long-term customer relationships and value beyond the initial purchase, the subscription feature offers many possibilities to turn a single transaction into one that can continue benefitting the business and the customer for months, and even years, to come.
Illustrations by Andrea Horne