Digital innovators are giving consumers the chance to experience all sorts of products and services through the subscription business model. They are allowing consumers to listen to a stream of their favorite music, build their wardrobes with curated apparel, and even try out a new fitness studio for a workout.
According to the latest PYMNTS Subscription Commerce Conversion Index, however, subscription innovators need to provide consumers with the satisfaction they expect. The index points out that “even well-known brands must understand which features please customers and separate top performers from the rest of the pack.”
From Amazon Music to ClassPass, top-performing subscription plans are integrating features such as plan options and free trials into their subscription offerings. These are just a few ways that innovators in a variety of different segments are using plan features to differentiate their subscription offerings from others on the market.
All of the Top 20 performing merchants offered plan options as a subscription feature. Amazon Music, in one case, has been providing subscribers with the choice of six price tiers. The service has been steadily gaining in popularity even though it has only been around since 2016, a full two years following Apple’s debut of its own music service. It has passed the 55 million subscriber mark, making it a serious threat to Apple’s service. Last summer, Apple said it had 60 million subscribers for its service. The top service, however, is Spotify, with approximately 248 million users and 113 million paying subscribers. Amazon is not new to music sales, as the eCommerce firm has been selling CDs since the ‘90s and has been offering downloads for years.
All of the Top 20 performing merchants offered free shipping as a subscription feature. Sock subscription service THREADJAR Socks, in one case, offers free shipping on all of its subscriptions. The company sells a variety of socks via the subscription business model. Consumers can decide to buy a single pair, two pairs or three pairs, and pay for their subscriptions monthly, yearly or every three months. Consumers can cancel at any time, and one size fits most. The company chooses which pairs it sends out to customers in each delivery, and its founder aims to provide subscribers with a variety of socks. The company serves a varied audience, from young professionals to middle-aged men — any consumers who want to wear the socks in their daily lives or at the office.
Three-quarters of the Top 20 performing merchants offered a free trial as a subscription feature. International fitness and wellness marketplace ClassPass, in one case, has a one-month free trial. After that point, a 10-class subscription comes at the price of $99 month. There are also lower pricing tiers for three or five classes per month. The company has partnerships with more than 30,000 boutique studios, wellness providers and gyms to give members many different fitness options. It recently raised $285 million in a Series E funding round led by Apax Digital and L Catterton, with support from existing investor Temasek. The funds come on the heels of the startup’s international growth into 28 nations and partnerships with more than 1,000 employers for its corporate wellness solution.
Sixty percent of the Top 20 performing merchants offered feedback as a subscription feature. And some subscriptions are using this information to decide what to send to customers. Comma Vintage, in one case, provides shipments of vintage menswear, artifacts, and accessories along with a personal note describing the contents. As soon as subscribers sign-up for the service, they receive an email link to a preference survey. The feedback helps the firm get a sense of customer interests, acquire inventory intelligently, and better understand its customer base. An average box might include, for instance, a few graphic vintage T-shirts and a heavyweight vintage flannel shirt.
Only 10 percent of the Top 20 performing merchants offered rewards as a subscription feature. Baseball gear subscription service Coach Crates, in one case, has a rewards program that is known as The Diamond Club. The offering lets clients accrue points for creating an account, making a purchase, or leaving a review. Coaches start by choosing the level they train — whether that be collegiate, high school, or youth. That information helps Coach Crates decide what resources to offer. The goal, according to the company’s founder, is to “have a good mix of tools, resources and game supplies and gear.” The company consults a tight-knit group of founding subscribers to help with curation.
From Coach Crates to ClassPass, subscription innovators who provide consumers with an array of products and services from baseball gear to fitness classes are harnessing plan features to satisfy customers. And, while the effort to improve satisfaction starts the second subscribers enroll, it has to continue through their entire lifespan a member of the service.