Editor’s note: Comments have been edited for length and clarity.
In the past five years, subscriptions have moved from a nice-to-have customer experience to a requirement. Not only is there high consumer demand for subscriptions but forward-thinking merchants like Tata Harper have recognized the benefits of reliable, recurring revenue.
“I think subscription is a growing best practice in eCommerce,” said Shannon Wright, Tata Harper’s eCommerce Manager. “You need to have your products available to your clients when they want them and where they want them.”
In a recent webinar, Shannon spoke with Jamie Johns, Ordergroove’s Category Director for the Beauty vertical, about why the clean beauty brand launched a subscription program and the strategies the company uses to acquire and retain customers.
Below, we’ve rounded up highlights from the event. For more insights from Shannon and Jamie, watch From Luxury to Loyalty: How Tata Harper Achieved Subscription Success.
Tata Harper’s Subscription Journey
While Tata Harper’s subscription experience is a success today, the Vermont beauty brand spent years trying to find the right subscription platform to help them succeed.
Tata Harper first launched a subscription experience in 2017 and went through two subscription platforms before ultimately shutting down their program. Shannon said the company’s previous subscription platforms created a negative subscriber experience and eroded customer loyalty.
“We decided to go dark and needed to regain our clients’ trust by coming back better with a good program,” Shannon said.
Over months, Tata Harper’s team evaluated various subscription platforms and chose to relaunch their subscription experience with Ordergroove.
“We want a first-class experience for our clients and [our previous] program was not delivering,” Shannon said. “We were looking for a partner that had long-term growth and an idea on how to reward our clients for their loyalty through a program with good UX and a good experience.”
Shannon said Tata Harper was adamant that their new subscription solution provide a flexible subscription platform that would enable them to customize the shopping experience. They also desired a subscription partner that gave them access to experts who would help them achieve long-term goals.
“We wanted [the subscription platform] to adapt and grow as we grew,” Shannon said.
Strategies that Drive Acquisition and Retention
Since launching a subscription program with Ordergroove in 2019, Tata Harper has implemented a mix of standard and out-of-the-box strategies to attract shoppers and keep them from churning.
The beauty brand offers 10% off first orders and 15% off recurring orders. Additionally, they give high-value gifts to subscribers each month.
“The structure to do a lower discount first and a higher discount recurring is to encourage the second order to go through rather than to just sign up for 10% off,” Shannon said.
A key piece to Tata Harper’s strategy and their success is ensuring site visitors know about their subscription program.
The company highlights their subscription offering on their product detail pages (PDP) and in their checkout. Tata Harper also promotes subscriptions on their most popular web pages like their Best Sellers and Cleansers pages.
Jamie encouraged other merchants to follow Tata Harper’s example. “One thing we hear from customers is that they want their program to grow but when you go on their website you can’t find subscription anywhere except for the PDP,” she said.
While developing Tata Harper’s subscription strategy, Shannon said it was important to the brand that subscribers get the same benefits as non-subscribers.
“We are always offering a site-wide promotion with regular eCommerce orders so we wanted to make sure that clients who were part of the subscription program felt that they were also getting the benefits of these gifts with purchase,” Shannon said. “We’ve seen that as a really good retention strategy in making sure our subscribers feel special and that they aren’t missing out on things.”
One unique tactic Tata Harper uses is that they reward their top subscribers with high-value gifts. Once a year, Tata Harper sends their top 100 subscribers a thank-you card and a full-size product.
Tata Harper’s Subscription Success
How has Tata Harper’s subscription program performed?
Similar to other beauty brands, Tata Harper subscription program has seen significant growth in 2021.
On a year-over-year basis, Tata Harper’s gross merchandise value (GMV) is up 56% and their recurring revenue is up 112%. Also, their number of new subscriptions increased 27% during the same period.
“It’s super healthy for subscription,” Shannon said. “Each month I’m shocked.”
What Does the Future Look Like?
Looking to 2022 and beyond, Shannon said merchants should focus on retention and double down on testing so that they can deliver products in the way their clients want to receive them.
“If subscription isn’t part of your retention strategy, it definitely should be,” Shannon added.
For Tata Harper specifically, the brand is working on ways to incorporate a loyalty program into their subscription experience and test various retention rewards. They’re also going to explore using artificial intelligence (AI) through Ordergroove’s Anticipate AI feature.
The primary reason that Tata Harper subscribers cancel a subscription is overstock. Anticipate AI determines when a subscriber is at risk for cancelation because of overstock and sends them a message offering them to skip their next order. Our data shows that this preemptive communication can reduce churn by as much as 17%.