Subscription Demand Continues to Grow in Pandemic


As the pandemic disrupts traditional everyday life, more and more consumers are turning to eCommerce to purchase the products they desire. A new analysis by Ordergroove reveals that demand for subscriptions is up across all verticals and that consumer buying behavior may have permanently shifted.

Subscription Enrollment on the Rise

Subscription demand in COVID-19

Our analysis shows that subscription enrollment figures increased throughout the pandemic, while subscription retention rates remained stable. This indicates a dramatic shift in eCommerce, as consumers have moved away from one-and-done transactions in favor of subscriptions.

The graph above shows a steady and upward trend. Subscription enrollment is up 41% across all verticals compared to the pre-COVID-19, January baseline.

From March to May we saw a steep increase in subscription enrollment. This corresponds with the outbreak’s initial surge. In the summer months, enrollment decreased — though not to the baseline level. Numbers began to rise again in the fall, which roughly tracks with a second large surge in virus cases.

Fall’s increase in subscription enrollment can also be partially attributed to the start of the holiday season. Unlike in previous years, brands revealed their promotions as early as October, providing shoppers with more time to take advantage of deals.

Our data shows that consumer behavior has shifted since the start of the pandemic. Shoppers who were unwilling or unable to visit brick-and-mortar stores turned to subscriptions for a safer and more convenient experience. It’s unlikely consumers’ newfound love for subscriptions, which offer convenience and time savings, will disappear once the pandemic ends.

Top Performing Industries for Subscriptions

Top performing industries for subscriptions in COVID-19

While subscription enrollment increased across all verticals, some industries saw tremendous gains.

Pet supplies subscription enrollment increased by 352% compared to the baseline. This spike tracks with a larger U.S. trend. Pet sales and adoptions are up since the start of the health crisis. It makes sense that new pet owners are turning to subscriptions to keep their dogs and cats happy and healthy.

The food and grocery industry witnessed a significant increase in subscribers, as well. The vertical is up 114% compared to the baseline. The explanation for this is simple — shopping at physical establishments has been difficult during the pandemic. Instead of risking their health and losing massive amounts of time to lines, shoppers instead turned to subscriptions.

Beauty subscription increased by 100% compared to the baseline. This figure appears shocking at first, but it aligns with shopper’s desires for comfort products. During quarantine beauty products transitioned from being all about makeup to an act of self-care.

Top Performing Products

Top performing subscription products in COVID-19

Below are the top performing products segmented by industry since the start of the pandemic.

Food & Grocery

  • Snack bars
  • Coffee
  • Hot chocolate

Pet Supplies

  • Dog food
  • Dog pads
  • Cat litter

Health & Wellness

  • Dietary supplements (women)
  • Weight loss supplements
  • Fish oil


  • Facial cream
  • Shaving blades
  • Concealer

Home Goods

  • Diapers and wipes
  • Refrigerator water filters
  • Prenatal DHA

The New Normal

As we move into 2021, we expect subscription enrollment rates to remain higher than pre-COVID figures. We also expect more brands to invest in a subscription offering in order to adapt to the change in consumer buying behavior caused by the health crisis.

Ready to implement or enhance your subscription program? Contact us today to learn how Ordergroove can help you unlock your recurring revenue potential.

Subscriptions in the midst of COVID-19

Special thanks to our friends at OrderGroove for their insights on this topic.
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Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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