How to Start Selling Subscriptions on Shopify in 5 Simple Steps

How to Start Selling Subscriptions on Shopify in 5 Simple Steps


Struggling with stagnated revenue despite an increasing customer base on your Shopify store? Picture this, a customer buys a product from your store today, loves it and then... never returns. Sound familiar? As store owners, we understand the value each customer holds and the potential for repeat sales. It's for this reason selling subscriptions on Shopify's platform can be an incredible game-changer.

Subscriptions are a unique selling model, where customers commit to repeat purchases, offering a predictable and recurring income stream for your business. In this ever-evolving world of ecommerce, subscriptions have begun leading the charge, with recurring payments becoming the norm.

Think of it like this: Your customers are no longer just customers; they become subscribers. They commit to more than just a one-time purchase; they connect to an ongoing relationship with your brand. The result? A steady stream of revenue, better planning, and a more solid business model.

When you sell subscriptions on Shopify, you capture what all successful businesses strive for - repeat customers. You create a reliable ecosystem centred around your products and your brand.

Here's a quick rundown of what the following guide will cover:

  • Identifying your subscription niche
  • Building your Shopify online store
  • Choosing the right subscription model
  • Setting up your subscription service on Shopify
  • Pricing and marketing your subscription service effectively

Hold on tight and let's begin this thrilling journey together as we transform your business by integrating subscriptions into your Shopify store!

Detailed infographic of the five steps to sell subscriptions on Shopify - sell subscriptions on shopify infographic process-5-steps-informal

Step 1: Deciding What Kind of Subscription You Want to Sell

Selecting the appropriate subscription type for your Shopify store is the first step in the process. The kind of subscription you offer should align with your brand, your products, and the needs of your customers. Let's take a closer look at some of the most popular subscription models you can consider.

Curated Subscription Boxes

Curated subscription boxes, as DigiSmoothie explains, are an excellent way to add an element of excitement and anticipation to the shopping experience. They can be used as gifts, to introduce customers to products, or to cover a specific need with a variety of items. However, be mindful of the logistics involved, especially if you're including products sourced from different vendors.

Refills of Essential Products

If you sell items that are regularly used by your customers, consider offering a subscription refill service. It's a convenient way for customers to restock products they regularly use without the headache of remembering to place orders each time.

Product Samples and "Try Before You Buy" Selections

This type of subscription can work well for businesses that sell a variety of products or often release new products. It provides a way for customers to try out your products before committing to full-size purchases.

Digital Product Subscriptions

If you sell digital products such as software, online courses, or digital publications, a subscription model can provide a steady source of recurring revenue. This model can be very scalable since there are no physical products to ship or restock.

Access to Premium Services

If your business offers a service, such as technical support or access to exclusive content, you might consider a subscription model. Customers pay a regular fee for continued access to the service.

Choosing the right subscription model is essential for your business. It's not just about recurring revenue; it's about building long-lasting relationships with your customers, increasing loyalty, and enhancing your brand's value. As we move forward with this guide to sell subscriptions on Shopify, we'll provide you with the tools and guidance you need to set up and manage your subscriptions effectively.

These subscription models are not mutually exclusive. You can offer multiple types of subscriptions to cater to different customer needs. Furthermore, don't be afraid to experiment and adjust your offerings based on customer feedback and data.

In the next section, we will explore how to choose the right Shopify subscription app that best fits your chosen subscription model. Stay tuned!

Step 2: Choosing the Right Shopify Subscription App

After you have decided on the type of subscription you want to sell in your Shopify store, the next step is to find a subscription app that fits your needs. The app's role is to manage your subscriptions, process recurring payments, and provide the necessary tools for customers to manage their subscriptions. Luckily, Shopify offers a variety of subscription apps that are designed to make selling subscriptions on Shopify as easy as possible. We've highlighted a few notable options below:

Seal Subscriptions

Seal Subscriptions is a versatile app that supports a wide variety of subscription types. It offers an intuitive interface and a range of customization options. You can display your subscriptions on product pages or collection pages, and even set up a dedicated page for subscriptions. With Seal Subscriptions, you can also customize the design elements to match your brand's theme, and the app supports custom CSS for further customization.


PayWhirl is an excellent choice if you're looking for a subscription app that offers robust analytics. With PayWhirl, you can track the performance of your subscriptions and gain valuable insights that can help you fine-tune your offerings. Additionally, it supports various payment gateways for recurring payments, although we recommend using Shopify Payments for seamless integration.

Appstle Subscriptions

Appstle Subscriptions is a great option if you're looking to offer more personalized subscriptions. This app allows customers to choose the subscription period and select among different product sizes and types, or even create their own product selection. Furthermore, Appstle Subscriptions comes with an API for advanced customizations and third-party integrations.

Recharge Subscriptions

Recharge Subscriptions is another solid choice. This app is known for its user-friendly setup, which makes it a favorite among many Shopify store owners. Recharge Subscriptions also offers a range of customization options, and it supports various payment gateways for recurring payments.

In conclusion, selecting the right Shopify subscription app is a crucial step in setting up your subscription service. Each app has its unique features, so it's important to consider your specific needs and requirements before making a decision. If you need help with this step, our team at First Pier is always here to guide you.

In the next section, we will discuss how to set up your subscription service on Shopify. So, let's continue on this journey to successfully sell subscriptions on Shopify!

Shopify Apps - sell subscriptions on shopify

Step 3: Setting Up Your Subscription Service on Shopify

Once you've decided on the type of subscription you want to offer and the Shopify subscription app that best suits your needs, the next step is to set up your subscription service on Shopify. This step is crucial to sell subscriptions on Shopify successfully.

Adding Subscriptions as a Purchase Option

The first part of this process involves adding subscriptions as a purchase option. This allows your customers to purchase your products on a recurring basis. Depending on the subscription options you offer, customers can agree to pay a fixed price for your product at a scheduled frequency. This can be daily, weekly, or monthly.

To add subscriptions as a purchase option, you need to create a subscription plan. This can be done either from the Shopify Subscriptions app you've chosen or directly from the product page in the Shopify admin.

During this process, you'll give your plan a title and select the products you want to include. Offering a discount is optional, and you can choose to provide a weekly, monthly, or yearly delivery frequency. Shopify also allows you to add additional delivery frequency and discount options for customers.

Managing Subscriptions in the Shopify Admin

Managing your subscriptions effectively is key to ensuring customer satisfaction and smooth operations. This involves editing customer's contact information and shipping address, managing payment methods, and providing flexibility with subscription contracts.

With Shopify Subscriptions, customers can log into their account and manage their one-time and subscription purchases. From updating their shipping address to changing their contact information, customers have full control over their account details, which promotes transparency and boosts customer trust.

Understanding the Customer Checkout Experience for Subscriptions

Finally, understanding the customer checkout experience for subscriptions is essential. Subscription apps display subscription information to customers at the checkout. For example, when buying a subscription product, the order frequency is shown in the order summary.

During the checkout process, your customer needs to confirm that they understand they are purchasing a subscription. They can't complete their purchase without agreeing to this.

By following these steps, you can start to sell subscriptions on Shopify effectively. Setting up Shopify Subscriptions is not just about ticking the boxes of technical requirements. It’s about paving the way for a smoother, more efficient shopping experience for your customers.

At First Pier, we're here to support you every step of the way as you set up and manage your subscription service on Shopify. In the next section, we'll look at how to price your subscription right, so stay tuned!

Step 4: Pricing Your Subscription Right

The right pricing strategy for your subscription service can be the key to a successful business model on Shopify. Striking a balance between value and affordability is crucial, and at First Pier, we're here to help you navigate this critical aspect of your subscription business.

Offering Discounts on Subscription Purchases

One effective strategy to incentivize subscription purchases is to offer discounts. A well-crafted discount can be hard to resist, turning potential customers into loyal subscribers. For instance, consider offering a 20% discount off the regular price for monthly subscriptions. This not only attracts customers but also secures a steady, recurring revenue stream for your business.

When you create a discount code on Shopify, you can limit its use to specific purchase types. For subscriptions, this could mean applying the discount to all subscription products, a specific collection of subscription products, or even specific subscription products.

According to our expert at First Pier, Steve, "Discounts on subscription orders are a great incentive for increasing your overall order size. Instead of getting a one-time purchase, you now have a lifelong customer. Subscribers agree to have their credit card charged on an automatic repeat basis to receive your products. This is gold, so don't miss the opportunity to offer a discount to gain a new customer."

Setting Usage Limits for Free Shipping Discounts on Subscription Products

Free shipping is another potent tool to attract and retain customers. However, managing its usage is equally important. Shopify allows you to specify how long the free shipping discount applies to subscription products. You can limit it to the first payment, a certain number of payments, or enable it for all future subscription payments.

To edit an existing free shipping discount to include subscription-based rules, simply go to the Discounts section in your Shopify admin and update the purchase type to 'Subscription'. In the 'Usage limits' section, you can then choose the limitations you wish to apply to your free shipping discount under 'Recurring payments for subscriptions'.

Steve adds, "Free shipping can increase conversions and average order value. Offering this benefit to your customers, especially those who commit to a subscription, can greatly improve their overall shopping experience."

In conclusion, setting the right price and offering strategic discounts and benefits like free shipping can help you successfully sell subscriptions on Shopify. Remember to keep monitoring the performance of your pricing strategy and adjust it as needed to ensure it continues to drive growth for your business.

In the next section, we'll cover creating a successful marketing plan for your subscription service. Knowledge is power, and we're here to empower you to succeed in your Shopify subscription business.

Stay tuned!

Step 5: Creating a Successful Marketing Plan for Your Subscription Service

Now that you've set up your subscription service and priced it right, it's time to attract subscribers. Building a solid marketing plan will help you effectively sell subscriptions on Shopify and grow your business. Here's how to do it:

Showing Subscriptions as a Default Payment Option

Make the subscription option the default choice on your product pages. This way, customers will see the benefits of subscribing before considering a one-time purchase. As we've discovered, this strategy can encourage more customers to subscribe.

Creating a Dedicated Subscription Page

Feature subscriptions prominently on your website by creating a dedicated subscription page. Highlight the advantages of subscribing and use this space to answer any potential questions customers may have. This page can also be a great place to showcase customer testimonials and frequently asked questions.

Displaying Subscription Options on Collection Pages

Don't limit subscription options to just product pages. Consider including them on your collection pages as well. This gives customers more opportunities to discover your subscription offers and understand the benefits they provide.

Clearly Describing the Benefits of Subscribing

Transparency is key when you sell subscriptions on Shopify. Clearly describe the benefits of subscribing and why it's a better option than individual purchases. A well-informed customer is more likely to subscribe.

Offering Flexibility in Managing Subscriptions

Show customers that you value their needs by offering them the ability to edit, pause, or cancel their subscriptions easily. This builds trust and encourages customers to subscribe, knowing they have control over their subscription.

Providing a Discount for New Subscribers

To attract new subscribers, consider offering a discount for the first month or another period. This can be a powerful incentive that helps to overcome any initial resistance to subscribing.

Analyzing Churn

Keep a close eye on your subscription churn rate. This refers to the percentage of subscribers who cancel their subscription within a given time period. Understanding why customers are canceling can provide valuable insights into how you can improve your service.

Partnering with Influencers

Influencer partnerships can be a powerful way to reach a larger audience. Find influencers who align with your brand and have them promote your subscription service to their followers.

The key to a successful subscription service is a well-thought-out marketing plan. By following these steps, you're well on your way to creating a Shopify subscription service that not only attracts customers but retains them as well.

Ready to take your Shopify subscription service to the next level? At First Pier, we're here to help. Contact us today, and let's grow your Shopify subscription business together.


The Impact of Subscriptions on Your Shopify Business

Implementing a subscription model on your Shopify store can have an enormous impact on your business. By offering your customers the convenience of regular, automatic deliveries, you're not only enhancing their shopping experience but also securing a consistent revenue stream for your business. This predictable income can be a game-changer, making it easier for you to plan your business growth strategies and manage your finances effectively.

How Subscriptions Can Help Grow Your Business on Shopify

Subscriptions can help you get more customers and increase their loyalty. When customers commit to a subscription, they're expressing their trust in your brand and their desire to continue buying from you. This can result in a deepened customer relationship, increased customer lifetime value, and ultimately, business growth.

Subscriptions also provide an opportunity for you to leverage influencers in your niche. By partnering with influencers, you can tap into their established audience and influence to promote your subscription offerings and attract more potential subscribers.

Final Thoughts on Selling Subscriptions on Shopify

Learning how to sell subscriptions on Shopify can seem challenging, but with the right approach and tools, it can become a straightforward process. The key to success is understanding your customers' needs and preferences, choosing the right subscription model, and pricing your subscriptions strategically.

At First Pier, we believe in the power of subscriptions in growing your business. With our extensive experience and expertise in Shopify development and optimization, we can help you set up and manage your subscription service efficiently and effectively.

If you're ready to take your Shopify subscription business to the next level, get in touch with us today. Let's work together to make your subscription offers irresistible and grow your business on Shopify!

For further reading, we recommend our articles on Shopify Subscription Management and Online Marketing on Shopify.

Shopify Subscriptions - sell subscriptions on shopify

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