NEW DATA: Two Features That Win Subscription Subscribers

Key subscription features like free shipping, real-time messaging and mobile optimization no longer pack the competitive punch they once did – now all three are offered by 90 percent of subscription commerce sites. So, when every plan looks the same, what does it take to separate the best from the rest? In the new Subscription Commerce Conversion Index, PYMNTS analyzes 187 leading eCommerce subscription sites across 10 verticals to learn the two features that now hold the keys to driving conversion.

January 2020 Subscription Commerce Conversion Index

The video streaming landscape is swamped with providers. From Disney+ to HBO, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, consumers have never had as many companies from which to stream TV shows and movies as they do now.

With so many streaming services competing for consumer attention, providing unique content might not be enough to earn subscribers. The pressure is on for providers to find new ways to gain an edge on their market rivals, and convince more would-be viewers to hit “subscribe.”

The answer may just lie in the sign-up process itself.

PYMNTS annually tracks the sign-up processes offered by digital subscription service providers in more than 10 verticals, from publishing and entertainment to consumer goods and eCommerce, to the Internet of Things, hardware and beyond. Each year, these researchers explore the sites of some of the leading providers on the web — examining features provided with their subscription packages, how easy it is to sign up for their services and how long it takes to subscribe — to find out which sign-up processes have the best chance of converting casual browsers to new subscribers.

The January 2020 edition of the Subscription Commerce Conversion Index, a collaboration with Recurly, details the findings from PYMNTS’ latest research cycle, highlighting the services that top subscription merchants provide their customers, as well as how these offerings contribute to overall subscriber satisfaction. Specifically, the Index analyzes 187 business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) merchants across 10 categories, and gauges their implementation of 47 key subscription features, awarding each service an aggregated score between zero and 100. A higher score indicates a smoother checkout process that a consumer is more likely to complete.

PYMNTS found that, for all the varieties of subscription services to be found online, subscription package features are more similar than they have ever been. Features like free shipping, real-time messaging and mobile optimization used to be enough to stand out from the crowd. Now, they are necessary just to stay in business, with more than nine out of 10 providers offering each.

Consumers not only expect to get these features and more, but expect to be able to sign up quickly and easily. Providers are, in turn, working to make their sign-up processes as fast and frictionless as possible. It took an average of 142.2 seconds to sign up for digital subscription services in Q4 2019, compared to 148.3 seconds in Q3 2019.

However, there is more to the sign-up game than subscription features and speed. Each sub-sector of the digital subscription market must tailor its processes to match the demand of its own, unique consumer base. The only question is: How?

To learn more about how subscription providers in different verticals are optimizing their checkout processes in 2020, download the report.