Shopify Ecosystem

How Super Coffee Leaned Into Subscriptions & Actively Reduced Churn

how-super-coffee-leaned-into-subscriptions-&-actively-reduced-churn

We talked to Ben Knox, SVP of Digital at Super Coffee, on our Hit Subscribe podcast all about how the company got started and their shift to subscriptions, including tips they’ve learned along the way to reduce churn

After creating Super Coffee—a zero-sugar latte made with protein and MCT oil—and sharing it with his teammates while playing division one basketball, Jordan DeCicco entered and won a case competition with Ernst & Young. He decided to drop out of college and convinced his older brothers to join him in building this better-for-you coffee brand. Jordan knew that student-athletes were looking for a better coffee drink, without all the nasty ingredients that came with other alternatives on the market. 

“He was a D1 basketball player and literally started make a healthier version of kind of a protein MCT oil latte in his dorm room in his blender and would drink it before practice, started making some for his teammates and everyone was giving him some really positive feedback, so he was inspired to go further.”

—Ben Knox, SVP of Digital at Super Coffee

Three iced coffees are shown with text saying

Super Coffee is known for its keto-friendly ingredients with no added sugar.

A few years later in 2018, many people heard of Super Coffee for the first time thanks to their infamous appearance on Shark Tank. 

From Shark Tank failure to brand of the year

Despite receiving five no’s from the Sharks, the DeCicco brothers left the experience invigorated to prove them wrong. They knew that people would resonate with their coffee, which had great health benefits and made you feel good after drinking it. The brothers followed their vision and eventually, Super Coffee caught on and became the highly successful beverage brand it is now. 

“Fast forward to today, Super Coffee is in over 40,000 stores nationwide. We’re talking 7-Eleven, Whole Foods, Costco, CVS, Kroger, Walmart…and the company’s on a tear, just doing really great stuff, making amazing products, exciting consumers. Notably, we won number one brand of the year by BevNET last year”

—Ben Knox, SVP of Digital at Super Coffee

Talk about facing adversity head-on and coming out on top! Ben Knox joined the team in 2020—right as the pandemic began—and got to work expanding the brand and improving the customer experience. Increasing customer retention and trying to reduce churn was a big goal as well, so they refocused their whole model to direct customers to subscribe, instead of making one-time purchases.

Black text on a white image with a quote and different logos of publications.

Today, Super Coffee is still remembered for their shark tank experience—in a very positive way.

Reduce churn & increase customer satisfaction with these Super Coffee tactics

On our Hit Subscribe podcast, Ben walked us through how Super Coffee improved their user experience. From a big website overhaul to integrating SMS, they were able to effectively reduce customer churn and guarantee a great customer journey with an easy-to-access customer portal. Post-purchase surveys have also helped to pinpoint why customers decided to churn. 

Here are a few of the action items Ben identified and worked on that helped turn around the customer churn rate for Super Coffee—and helped build customer loyalty and prioritize proactive customer service. 

Improve the user experience

One of the first things that Ben did when he came on board with Super Coffee was work to improve the user experience on the website. It wasn’t built for subscriptions yet, so instead customers were just making one-time purchases. By refocusing the user experience to prioritize subscriptions—including making subscribe-and-save the default shopping option—Super Coffee was able to make big strides and enjoy the stability of having a strong subscriber base. 

Along with shifting to subscriptions, Ben led a total redevelopment and redesign of the site, which launched in December 2021. There were tweaks made to the product information pages to prioritize the customer experience. They were able to accelerate the development of monthly recurring revenue (MRR) thanks to this subscribe-and-save model powered by Recharge. 

This screenshot from the Super Coffee websites showcases their navigation bar and below it, the words

By making ‘Subscribe & Save’ prominent on their new website, Super Coffee attracted more customers to subscriptions, rather than one-time purchases.

Use your own product

One of the main ways that the Super Coffee team workshopped how their new site would look is by shopping on their old one. By pretending to be a customer and going through the shopper experience, they could pinpoint exactly where they would’ve churned, had they been a real customer shopping their site. 

This tactic is called “dogfooding” and is one that Ben highly recommends to merchants—use your own product and constantly be shopping your website, flagging issues and concerns that come up as you do. 

“There’s almost never a better substitute for always using your own product. So certainly [we] encourage the entire team to constantly be checking out and shopping through the website and then flagging and elevating any issues or concerns.”

—Ben Knox, SVP of Digital at Super Coffee

Upgrade your customer portal & integrate SMS 

The customer portal is something that merchants are in total control of, so it makes sense to strive for the best customer portal possible—it’s an integral way to reduce churn by giving customers easy access to control their subscriptions. 

Super Coffee completely overhauled their customer portal and integrated RechargeSMS to make modifying subscriptions simple for their shoppers. Now, shoppers can change or modify their subscription services through text messages, or with the upgraded customer portal. Super Coffee also made the decision to go headless, which creates complexity but allows for an extremely customized website. 

“RechargeSMS is something that we always hear from our customers they’re very delighted by.” —Ben Knox, SVP of Digital at Super Coffee

A screenshot from the Super Coffee website showing Super creamer being poured into one of two coffee glasses.

Super Coffee makes it clear that customers always have control over their subscriptions—meaning they can change or cancel their subscription at any time. 

Utilize post-purchase surveys to reduce customer churn

Another excellent tactic to prevent customer churn is to create surveys that gauge how your customers are making decisions, or even why they’re churning in the first place. Surveys can be used to gain customer feedback:

  • After a purchase
  • When unsubscribing
  • Through email
  • While shopping on the website

You don’t need to wait until customers churn to give them a survey. Hitting loyal customers with a quick questionnaire will never hurt, and can give you valuable insights into how shoppers are making their decisions. Plus, you might be able to identify at-risk customers with these surveys, then utilize proactive customer service to avoid churned customers. 

Add value with relatable content

There’s nothing better for your brand than creating a strong community around your products or services. One of the best ways to create a strong brand community is to share content that is helpful or useful for your customers. Super Coffee honed in on trying to find what resonated with their shoppers, and they saw that keto diet adjacent content and recipes were well-received, since many of their customers follow a similar diet. 

Since this discovery, they’ve worked to empower their customers with recipes that follow the same thesis as Super Coffee: Delicious recipes that taste as good as the real deal, but with less sugar. People love the recipes, and it adds a lot of value to their brand. When shoppers have a valuable resource associated with a product or service, the churn rate goes down.

This is a screenshot from the Super Coffee blog, showing a salad on the left side with text on the right.

The Super Coffee blog is full of helpful advice and recipes, which has increased customer engagement and brand loyalty. 

Explore the analytics of your existing customers

Finally, there’s no reducing the customer churn rate without powerful analytics to back up your business decisions. Merchants that invest time in analyzing how their existing customers are shopping and spending money will come out on top in the long run. Super Coffee has used their Recharge analytics to make crucial changes to avoid churn and increase customer lifetime value (LTV).

“I think [what’s] really important, especially for brands starting out, is to get a good analytics foundation under you and allow that to enable you to focus on your customer.”

—Ben Knox, SVP of Digital at Super Coffee

Reducing customer churn, inspired by Super Coffee 

Super Coffee is going to continue working on retention and loyalty, and focus on the onboarding process for the new customers they acquire. Ben also wants to continue nurturing their existing customers with loyalty-exclusive product drops and other incentives that will help build brand community. 

“At the end of the day, you can only solve so much with tech, user experience, and fancy unboxing…Never, never, never forget to make incredible products that people love.”

—Ben Knox, SVP of Digital at Super Coffee

Check out the full interview with Ben, as well as conversations with other industry experts, on our Hit Subscribe podcast.

Special thanks to our friends at ReCharge Payments for their insights on this topic.
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