Amazon better watch its back.
The company is the biggest ecommerce retailer in the U.S., and this success has been driven in large part by its Amazon Prime subscription service. This plan offers members benefits such as free two-day shipping, a discount on groceries from Whole Foods, and access to a large library of original movies and TV shows.
Now, Amazon Prime is facing some stiff competition.
Walmart+ — or Walmart Plus, as it’s sometimes stylized — is a little less expensive than Amazon Prime at a cost of $98 per year (Prime is $119 per year). Given that price point and the fact that same-day grocery delivery is included in the package, this new program appears to be a rebrand of Walmart’s Delivery Unlimited service, which launched in 2019.
The other perks of Walmart+ include:
Prime members spend an average of $1,400 per year on Amazon, while the average non-member spends just $600 — so, it’s no surprise that Walmart is attempting to replicate this success with its own subscription service.
And the benefits of subscription services are certainly not limited to stores as big as Amazon and Walmart. Below, we’ll go over these benefits in more detail and show you how to set up a subscription service for your store.
The reason why subscription services are so effective is that they benefit both the business and the customer.
For customers, convenience is a big factor: They can have items they already know they want on a regular basis automatically delivered to their doorstep. They don’t need to worry about accidentally forgetting to place their order and then being forced to go without these items for a time.
These services usually offer special subscriber-only benefits, too. For instance, you may qualify for:
And of course, this arrangement is also good for a business’ bottom line.
Ecommerce success is all about eliminating hurdles: The more steps that the customer needs to take to buy something, the less likely it is that they’ll actually follow through and make the purchase.
Just think about all the hoops a visitor to your site must jump through in order to just make a single one-time purchase. The typical customer journey involves:
Discovering your store through an ad or search result -> browsing through your catalog -> customizing items if options are available -> clicking “Add to Cart”’ for all the items they want -> clicking “Checkout” when they’re ready to check out -> adding their shipping and payment information -> and finally reviewing the order details one last time before they finalize their order.
That’s a lot of steps. And just because someone goes through that process on your site once, it doesn’t mean they will again.
But with a subscription service, the customer only needs to go through the process one time to keep making the same order for months or even years, which leads to much more revenue for your store.
This customer journey-streamlining effect explains how Amazon is able to generate more than twice as much revenue from its Prime members than its non-Prime customers. Other business benefits of subscription services include:
The easiest way to add a subscription service to your own store is to download and install an app that’s been designed for this purpose.
Here are three subscription apps to consider:
ReCharge gives you everything you need to turn one-time customers into subscribers — you can use this app to add a subscription option to any product on your store, and it provides helpful dashboards for keeping track of your subscription activity.
Also, ReCharge is free for the first $100,000 in processed revenue. Once your revenue exceeds that level, you’ll need to choose between these two plans:
Keep in mind that this app was designed for Shopify, so if you’re using another ecommerce platform, you’ll want to search for an alternative.
If you use BigCommerce, then check out Subscrimia. It’s also more affordable than ReCharge, as there’s no flat monthly fee. Using this app will simply cost you 1% per transaction, and its features include a customer portal, customer notifications and weekly reports.
But just as ReCharge is a Shopify exclusive, Subscrimia is a BigCommerce exclusive, so it might not be available to you.
Finally, we’ll end on an option that’s available on both Shopify and BigCommerce: Bold Subscriptions. This app offers two pricing plans:
There’s no reason not to offer a subscription option on your ecommerce store. It’s convenient for your customers, and it allows you to make more money. Everybody wins.
And once you get to the stage of actually setting up your subscription service, Bold Subscriptions, Subscrimia and ReCharge are all excellent apps that will allow you to do so quickly and effectively — the best app for your store will depend on your budget and which ecommerce platform you’re using.
Adam Ritchie is a writer based in Silver Spring, Maryland. He writes about ecommerce trends and best practices for Shogun. His previous clients include Groupon, Clutch and New Theory.