41% of Subscribers Will Cancel a Subscription If Free Shipping Isn’t Included

Consumer Subscriptions

Consumers across the board are cutting back on retail subscriptions and have been for some time. This trend is likely to continue, as about 17% of retail subscribers are either likely to cancel or are on the fence about canceling their subscriptions as soon as the current pay period ends.

This is among findings from the new “Subscription Commerce Readiness Report: Bridging the Gap Between Subscription Conversion and Retention,” a PYMNTS and sticky.io collaboration based on surveys of 2,242 consumers with retail product subscriptions.


Several stats jump out of the latest report, including the selectivity consumers show in the subscriptions they choose to keep. Our data shows that more consumers subscribed to at least one retail product subscription in February, but the average consumer maintained fewer total subscriptions compared to 2021 and early 2022, “a strong indicator that consumers are watching their wallets. In February 2023, retail subscribers held 2.9 retail subscriptions on average, unchanged from September 2022 but far fewer than the 4.1 they held in March 2022.”

However, the data indicates that merchants can exert a certain amount of control over sign-ups and cancellations based on the features offered with retail subscriptions.

Per the study, “Subscribers no longer view a host of features and policies as value-added bonuses: They have become essential for consumers to maintain their retail subscriptions. PYMNTS’ data finds that free shipping has become a baseline expectation for many subscribers, and discontinuing it could drive 41% of subscribers, on average, to cancel. Consumers using Amazon Subscribe & Save lead this group, with 43% indicating they would cancel if free shipping were no longer offered. Indeed, 62% of all subscribers say they use a given retail subscription service primarily because of the convenience and cost savings associated with free shipping.”

subscription features


Additionally, loyalty benefits and the ability to pause subscriptions or skip billing periods are also proving crucial. The study found that 27% of subscribers say “discontinuing loyalty benefits or the ability to pause or skip would push them away. Strict refund policies that do not permit returning disliked products would also lead to cancellation, particularly among younger consumers. Among Gen Z subscribers, 37% would cancel a subscription if they were unable to process a refund.”

Get your copy: Subscription Commerce Readiness Report: Bridging the Gap Between Subscription Conversion and Retention