Almost every retailer has a website. It’s a basic business necessity and often one of the first things an entrepreneur creates when starting a business. And for good reason – you’re starting a salon or a brewery, yoga studio, or apothecary and you want everyone to be able to find it. But it’s also worth considering how people find your business to begin with. Indeed, the internet has developed in ways that help your potential customers engage with your business without ever having visited your website.
Want to see a salon’s business hours? Check Google Maps. Looking for a new restaurant to check out? Search on Yelp. Want to check the vibe of that new business down the street? Creep their social media. When a visitor lands on your website, they likely already know a fair amount about your business.
So what does your website actually do? It’s precious real estate and it’s time to rethink what function your website should provide.
Most businesses rush to put up pictures of their store, explain what they are all about, list their business hours, perhaps link out to a reservation booking website or to their social media. Many websites will have a “shop” tab where they sell merch and have the obligatory catalogue view of their products. This gives the visitor all kinds of options, but wouldn’t you rather just turn them into a long term customer? Why give any and all options, when you could just create a long term relationship with them right away?
The retailers of the future know a secret that is hiding in plain sight: your website can sell products and services that you don’t necessarily offer in your store. And it can still be fully compatible with the rest of your business.
Take these two different coffee shops for example.
The first one is the large American cafe chain, The Coffee Bean. Viewing their website, it’s clear that The Coffee Bean’s sales intent is to bring you to their physical stores, encourage you to download their mobile app or convince you to make a delivery order. If you had to guess – how is this working out for The Coffee Bean?
To buy a subscription, you first navigate to the top menu and click on “coffee”. Then you land on a new page, navigate to the top menu again and open the drop down “subscriptions” menu. The Coffee Bean is making it really difficult to buy a subscription at the same time they’re making it easy to take other actions that are likely to take place on other platforms like Yelp, Google Maps, or DoorDash. It’s possible this is intentional and it serves the business well, but you do wonder how many people actually visit The Coffee Bean in-store or order delivery as a result of visiting their website. And then you also wonder how many more subscriptions Coffee Bean could sell by reorienting their website around their subscription offerings? Would reorienting this way take away from mobile orders or in-store visits? Probably not.
The second one is a regional mini chain in Los Angeles called Go Get’em Tiger. This business recognizes that their website visitors are not the same as their in-store customers, and they have created a customer experience that reflects that. The express purpose of the Go Get’em website is to sell a subscription. Their subscription offering is the first thing you see and it’s the easiest part of their business to engage with. If you want to find information that is widely available on other platforms like locations and store hours, or if you want to buy one-time products like merch or a single bag of coffee, you can use the top navigation. Go Get’em Tiger prioritizes subscription above all else. Subbly calls this a subscription-first business.
Many retailers set up their website a long time ago and don’t change it very often. Or they use platforms that are designed to simply display content (like WordPress) or sell one-time products (like Shopify). Selling subscriptions through these platforms is sometimes possible but never optimal. Platforms like Shopify, WordPress, or Squarespace aren’t built for subscription so they require other software integrations and plugins to work. Why would you use a platform designed for a different use case? Stringing together multiple technologies is unnecessarily complex and expensive.
Subbly is the only subscription-first platform. Each feature is designed intentionally to support subscription products and services without the need for plugins or integrations (although you can use them if you choose). Subbly allows you to build a subscription-first website, maximize lifetime value, upsell one-time products, easily set up and experiment with sophisticated billing and shipping intervals, analyze business metrics, understand cancellation reasons, and much more.
So, you should ask yourself two main questions. First, “what is my website really doing for my business?” And second, “why is my website just a digital reflection of my retail store?” If these questions leave you with a blank stare or shrugging your shoulders, you might consider grabbing the subscription-first lifeline and positioning your retail business for the future.
The easiest platform for launching, managing, and growing your subscription-first business.