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Blog Post

How to Start a Subscription Business

What is a Subscription Business?

A subscription business is a model of business in which customers pay a recurring fee at regular intervals  (typically monthly or annually) to access a product or service. This model has gained popularity in recent years as more and more companies offer subscription-based services, such as streaming media (Netflix), cloud storage (Dropbox), meal delivery (Blue Apron), software (Microsoft Office 365), and even cars (Cadillac).

The subscription model provides several benefits to both the business and the customer. For businesses, it provides a predictable revenue stream, reduces churn (customers canceling their service), and allows for better customer retention. For customers, it provides convenience, cost savings (compared to buying individual products or services), and a better overall experience.

Why start a subscription business? 

In a nutshell, subscription e-commerce businesses provide online shoppers with a streamlined, individualized, and less expensive method of purchasing what they desire and require on a regular basis. In the meantime, businesses can expand their operations by using MRR, or recurring monthly revenue.

Let’s examine the advantages of a subscription-based business model:

  1. Predictable revenue

Planning for inventory and sales forecasts is made easier when you know how much money is coming in each month. It also indicates that you are aware of the amount that you can reinvest in your company’s expansion.

  1. More money available

Numerous membership organizations request full installment forthright, at a limited cost. This buffer can provide startups with much-needed peace of mind, in addition to being beneficial to cash flow.

  1. Spend less money to get new customers 

Businesses that use a pay-per-product pricing model have to keep investing in sales and marketing to get new customers and make more money. One major cause of startup failure is rising costs associated with acquiring customers. Customers pay you on a regular basis with a subscription-based model, so you don’t have to invest as much in new customers to keep your business running.

  1. Reliability, unwaveringly, and steadfastness

The repetitive idea of memberships makes a temperate cycle: customary buys offer further bits of knowledge into your clients’ way of behaving, which permits you to ceaselessly further develop the customized experience you offer and, thus, makes clients want more.

In the event that they get along admirably, membership organizations make very faithful, rehash clients — and rehash clients burn through 67% more than new clients. One of the most crucial aspects in determining a company’s success is the concept of customer lifetime value.

  1. Simplifies cross-selling and upselling 

With a subscription model, you are in a unique position to increase revenue from current customers. You are establishing a relationship of trust with your clients by maintaining constant communication with them. Because they are already aware that you offer a valuable service, you can market more products or services to them more easily.

If done correctly, starting a subscription business can be extremely profitable. The initial step is picking the membership model that best suits your business.

  1. Choosing the right subscription business model 

Subscriptions fall into three broad categories: access, replenishment, and curation. The kinds of physical and digital products you sell, your capacity, and your distinctive business concepts and objectives will all play a role in determining which one is best for you. Since each has advantages and disadvantages,

  1. Curation plan of action (i.e., membership boxes)

This is the most well-known membership plan of action, advocated by organizations like Birchbox, Blue Cover, and Join Fix. These are your membership box organizations, which look to astound and charm clients by giving them new things and exceptionally customized encounters.

SO, What are the Benefits of a subscription plan?

  • Membership boxes can be extremely rewarding

Truth be told, the development of and share in the membership market is powered by a couple of caretaker brands. Subscription boxes, which promote the discovery of new products and range in price from $15 to $100 per month, are generally regarded as a “splurge.” Intensified month to month, this benefit model can scale rapidly.

  • Higher rates of conversion

When compared to the other models, the subscribe rate is significantly higher at 65 percent of customers who are considering a replenishment service.

higher rates of retention. The replenishment model has particularly high long-term subscription rates because of the nature of the products sold by these businesses: 45 percent of members have an annual subscription.

  • More noteworthy worth to the client

Since clients are paying for selective admission to advantages, there is a chance to make customized offers that will help extend your relationship with the client. That worth can be additionally extended by creating a local area of individuals, where they can connect through discussions or Facebook gatherings.

opportunities for bundling. possibility to offer a variety of products to customers as part of a single membership, as well as intangible benefits like discounts on future purchases.

However, there are risks. 

  1. High turnover 

This model can result in higher rates of client retention. Additionally, subscription box businesses are the first to go under during a recession because these products are typically niche non-essentials.

2. Complexity of the operation 

Not only is gaining clients more costly in the membership box space, but these organizations additionally have significantly higher working expenses, including bundling, marking, and standard transportation. The replenishment business model emphasizes convenience and cost reduction. Recharging memberships permits buyers to computerize the acquisition of fundamental things—frequently at a markdown. Since the majority of products do not require regular replenishment, the kinds of products you sell are an important consideration for this business model. The replenishment model works well with items like pet food, diapers, razors, vitamins, commodities, and conveniences.

3. Low margins 

This business model frequently requires businesses to compete on price and offer substantial discounts. In other words, in order for businesses to turn a profit (that is, sell a lot of products), they need to keep their costs low and operate on a large scale.

4. Business model for Access 

Access subscribers pay a monthly fee to get discounts or benefits only available to members. Access subscription businesses like JustFab, NatureBox, and Thrive Market all provide exclusive services to their customers.

5. Require More Time Investment 

Since access requires more than a single help or item you can add to checkout, you really do have to invest energy to ensure your participation offering is sufficiently vigorous and kept consistently under control for it to be of value to your client.

Tips for making the subscription business model work for you: 

The most common threat to subscription businesses is customer churn. The good news is that subscribers who find a service they like tend to stick with it for a long time. To manage a profitable subscription business and reduce churn rates, here are some suggestions:

  1. Evaluate your product’s viability. The evaluation of your product’s viability and product-market fit is the first step in any business. It is much more difficult to break into the subscription market because certain product categories are oversaturated.

For instance, the meal-kit industry has a very high rate of cancellations within the first six months, which is a result of the competitive pricing and the general similarity of the leading players. Make sure your product is needed in the market by conducting research and monitoring your rivals.

  1. Be crystal clear about your company’s objectives: Is it to increase revenue, attract new customers, or sell more units? You need to keep your business goals at the forefront of your mind at all times, especially when choosing a business model.
  2. Be conservative with your pricing at first. Many subscription customers who churn quickly should not overspend on free trials or big discounts unless they clearly pay for themselves. In addition, pricing should always be evaluated, modified, and tested as your business grows.
  3. Invest in personalization: Customers anticipate personalized subscriptions to become even more tailored over time for all business models, but especially the curation model. A personalized experience was cited as the most important reason for curation subscribers to continue their subscription by 28%.

Do you have a technical stack or in-house data expertise that can scale personalization efforts? On the off chance that you do not, do you have a spending plan to put resources into it?

  1. Prioritize strategies for retention: In the beginning, acquiring customers must come first in order to generate sales. However, once the process has begun, it is time to alter methods and concentrate on customer retention strategies.

Remember: It costs more to acquire a customer than it does to keep one, and a loyal customer base always provides more value. The majority of subscription businesses focus entirely on acquiring new customers, but this is not the most efficient strategy for business expansion.

  1. Enhance promotion channels and strategies: Membership plans of action utilize various channels to draw in new clients and connect with existing supporters. Influencer marketing can assist you in gaining social influence when you are just starting out. 

Furthermore, since membership in organizations depends on a regular and significant commitment of clients, email is a basic instrument for all plans of action. Keep in mind that there is a “marketing match” for each subscription business model. For instance, in the curation model, offshoot promotion is the top acquiring channel. Repeating bundles then offer an inherent showcasing surface to draw in those clients.

  1. Monitor churn: It goes without saying that in order to continuously improve your service, you should be monitoring and analyzing voluntary churn, or when customers cancel their subscriptions.
  2. But what about the churn that happens by itself?

Lapsed, lost, or taken Visas; deal with changes; Moreover, over the course of a subscription customer’s lifecycle, network errors all play a role in involuntary customer churn. Profitwell claims that involuntary churn accounts for 20–40% of total churn, so proactively addressing these common causes can have a significant impact on your bottom line.

Creating a Successful Subscription Business

To create a successful subscription business, companies need to focus on the following:

  1. Identify the Right Product or Service: Companies need to identify a product or service that is suitable for the subscription model. This could be a product or service that requires regular replenishment, has a high lifetime value, or has a loyal customer base.
  2. Offer Flexible Pricing and Subscription Options: Companies need to offer flexible pricing and subscription options that cater to different customer needs. This includes offering different payment frequencies, plan tiers, and customization options.
  3. Provide Consistent Value: Companies need to provide consistent value to their customers by investing in product development, innovation, and customer service. Companies need to listen to customer feedback and adapt their service accordingly.
  4. Market Effectively: Companies need to invest in marketing and advertising to attract new customers and build brand awareness. This includes utilizing social media, email marketing, and other digital channels.


In conclusion, subscription business models have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their ability to provide businesses with a reliable revenue stream and improve customer retention. There are several types of subscription business models, including membership, replenishment, freemium, and all-you-can-eat models. While subscription businesses offer many benefits, such as predictable revenue, cost savings for customers, and a better overall customer experience, they also face challenges such as customer acquisition and retention. Despite these challenges, subscription businesses are here to stay, and it is likely we will see even more businesses adopt this model in the years to come.

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