Shopify Ecosystem

How To Develop Ideas For Your Subscription Business

how-to-develop-ideas-for-your-subscription-business

Are you ready to start a subscription business, but looking for some inspiration to get the ideas rolling? 

There are so many subscription business ideas out there—and so many Recharge merchants who are finding great success with the subscription model. Whether you’d like to offer curated subscription boxes or simply give your customers the option to automatically replenish products they use every day, you’ll be able to earn recurring revenue and make life easier for your subscribers. 

Once you’ve developed your subscription box business ideas, the next step is finding the right subscription management solution to fit your unique business needs. Our latest guide helps merchants identify their needs and compare different offerings to select the best subscription management solution

In this blog, we’ll dive into the subscription model (including its many benefits), then give you some ideas for your own subscription service, using some of our merchants as examples. Your successful subscription business is only a great idea away!

Key takeaways

  • Creating a subscription-based business can give merchants access to recurring revenue and higher customer satisfaction.
  • There are so many ideas that subscription businesses can take advantage of, from a stationary subscription to a monthly box of snacks for health food junkies.
  • Merchants can choose from three different types of subscription models—curation, replenishment, or access.

What is the subscription business model?

In order to understand subscriptions and develop the right ideas, you have to be knowledgeable about this type of business model. The main objective of the subscription model is to charge customers on a recurring basis for either a product or a service. Subscribers will input their credit card information, and their card is then charged at set increments that are pre-determined. 

One major appeal of owning a subscription business is the recurring revenue—when customers are committed to your product or service and make payments regularly, you can predict inventory more easily and forecast your earnings more effectively. Plus, subscription businesses have the added advantage of forming long-term relationships with their customers. Discover some additional benefits of the subscription business model below. 

Benefits of this model

So, why go through the effort of offering subscriptions when you already offer one-time purchases? Well, there are a number of reasons why subscriptions are a good idea. Not only do subscriptions offer benefits to you, but they also make life easier for your customers. 

When shoppers sign up for a subscription, they don’t have to remember to purchase your product or service every time they need it. It just happens automatically. When you put in the effort to engage with your subscribers, you can also create a community around your brand. Introducing a loyalty program for your subscribers can help you reduce churn and spread the word about your subscription offerings. 

Some other benefits of subscriptions that merchants can enjoy include:

  • Better customer retention
  • Easier financial forecasting 
  • More predictable inventory management
  • Lower customer acquisition costs
  • Increased customer lifetime value

Subscription-based business ideas for those new to subscriptions

Now that you know the merits of the subscription model, let’s talk about ideas. Every great subscription business will satisfy a need—whether that’s creating a monthly subscription service for pet owners full of toys and treats for their pups, or offering a coffee subscription box to keep your customers caffeinated and happy. Whatever your idea is for your first subscription business, the opportunities abound. 

There are actually three types of subscription business models, which are listed below. We’ve organized all of our great subscription business ideas into these three categories: curation, replenishment, and access. Continue reading to learn more about each model, and gain some inspiration for your subscription boxes. 

1. Curation

Curation is the most popular model for subscription boxes. Here, an online business creates a box of curated products—or lets shoppers assemble their own box—then sends those products directly to the consumer. A few examples of curation subscription boxes include:

  • A monthly book box with new releases 
  • A set of curated beauty products
  • A collection of snacks
  • A gift box customers can create themselves

One Recharge merchant who has found huge success offering this kind of subscription service is Bokksu. With curated boxes of Japanese snacks, candies, and teas, Bokksu has found popularity among lovers of Japanese culture. Many of their offerings are from family-owned businesses, so customers also find comfort in supporting these small businesses through their purchases. 

Bokksu offers colorful Japanese snack boxes.
Bokksu is a great example of the curation model, offering monthly boxes of Japanese goods in a bright orange box. 

2. Replenishment

The next subscription model is called replenishment, but it is also sometimes referred to as “subscribe-and-save,” because this type of subscription model often allows businesses to offer discounts to their subscribers for making recurring purchases instead of one-time purchases.

This kind of subscription service is ideal for businesses that sell products customers use regularly. From health and beauty products to household cleaners, the replenishment model is perfect for merchants who want to start offering subscriptions to make their customers’ lives easier. Here are a few ideas for replenishment subscriptions:

  • Household cleaning products
  • Snacks with a weekly or monthly delivery
  • Coffee and creamer packages
  • Vitamins subscriptions

Aspire Nutrition is a great merchant example of the replenishment model. They offer nutritional supplements of all sorts—and give customers the option to subscribe and save. On their website, subscribing is the default option, and shoppers can easily see how much they’ll save when they sign up for regular shipments. Plus, Aspire gives customers the option to choose how frequently they would like their vitamins delivered, adding another layer of flexibility to their subscription offerings. Once customers get used to a regular shipment of the vitamins and supplements they need, they’re more likely to stick with the brand. 

Aspire Nutrition gives customers the option to subscribe on every product page.
Customers can easily see how much they’ll save by subscribing with Aspire Nutrition; plus, they have the ability to choose how frequently they’d like their shipments. 

3. Access

The final model that subscription businesses can follow is the access model, which differs slightly from the first two. Merchants who offer a replenishment or curation subscription box can also offer access to special deals and discounts to their subscribers. 

The access model is all about giving exclusive access to customers—whether that’s to gated content, discounts, early releases of products, or other offerings. This model includes memberships, which merchants can use to create another level of exclusivity and brand loyalty. Merchants that would like to offer a subscription-based membership might consider offering their members:

  • Free shipping 
  • Special discount codes
  • Early notifications and access to new products
  • Exclusive content

Drift, a merchant who sells clean scents on subscription, offers an exclusive scent of the month club. For just $8 a month, customers can sign up to receive a new scent every month to match the season. Within the club, they gain access to rewards and bonus gifts; plus, they don’t have to pay for shipping. A membership program like this can become highly attractive to your customers, especially when it’s as appealing as a club like this. 

Drift's scent of the month club has many advantages for members.
Drift’s scent of the month club is popular for many reasons—it’s low cost, comes with free shipping, and gives customers special access to gifts and rewards that other shoppers can’t receive. 

Getting started on your subscription boxes 

With so many ideas for what to offer in your subscription box, new subscription businesses are sure to find inspiration and the next great idea to bring to the subscription world. It’s no doubt that customers crave the ease and convenience of monthly subscriptions (or weekly or bi-monthly or yearly). 

Whatever direction you choose for your own business, you can rest assured that offering subscriptions will give you reliable revenue and a steady customer base—meaning less customer acquisition costs and reduced churn. 

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