Retail subscription services were all the rage long before Netflix and the Dollar Shave Club — think of magazines, newspapers, and even telecommunication. With the rise of the Internet, the ever-growing desire to shop online, and the restrictions we faced during the lockdown, the retail subscription industry grew exponentially. But this is not the sole reason why this business model has become so popular with companies of various sizes.

After doing our research, we at Subbly discovered other factors why more and more businesses switch to or start providing retail subscription services. Here’s what we’ve found. 

It Goes Both Ways


While the subscription model is a great solution for many companies to predict, plan, and secure their income, it offers many perks for consumers as well. For instance, we can easily replenish the products in our pantries, stop calculating how much time has passed since we last changed the toothbrush, and be sure we’ll have the mobile data to connect with our nearest and dearest whenever we want. 

That’s why we need to look at what makes the retail subscription services popular and valuable for both sides. 


While there are different types of subscription businesses based on the product/survey they offer (replenishment, curation, access), the benefits of this business model are the same for every type. Let’s briefly review each. 

Brings Your Company Recurring Revenue

Having a solid client base is one of the prerequisites of selling more products and ensuring a steady cash flow, particularly in the challenging times we’ve faced during the pandemic. As recent research shows, nearly 90% of retail subscription businesses either maintained or grew new memberships since the lockdown. 

However, keeping clients spending their money on your products regularly is a challenge in a world where increasingly more companies add subscriptions to their options. It’s a real challenge until you develop and implement a working marketing strategy

Makes Analytics Easier

Analytics are important to track how your business is doing and notice how your customers respond to the changes your brand introduces. And when it comes to subscription businesses, analytics can be used in so many ways without much effort. How so?

Subscription businesses use special software that allows tracking and reporting — and these features lie at the heart of the business model. The software can record every client’s subscription form and show how many clients have unsubscribed or how much money one client has brought to your company over a certain period. All you need to do is choose the markers you’d like to study and the period, and you’re all set to make data-driven decisions for your company. 

Allows Automating the Processes & Making It Autonomous

One of the appealing features of the subscription business model in retail is that you put the clients in charge of the decision-making process. Compare this: in-store shopping requires a salesperson to introduce the client to the products, present them, pack the goods, and cash out. During online purchase, the client is in charge of all these steps, except for packing and delivery. 

For the business, this model means it will need to hire fewer people to do the tasks, which, consequently, will save operational costs. However, it also means that the business needs to empower its clients with the information and actions that would make the purchasing experience as easy and pleasant as it would be in a retail environment. 

Keeps Your Customers Engaged

The variety of the subscription boxes makes customers extremely picky about who they’re ready to shop from, which adds extra work to your sales and marketing team. Unique offers, products, and brand values that resonate with the customers’ ones are a good start.  

All these benefits get a lot of attention from startups and established brands. Now, why are retail subscriptions so popular with the clients?

Why Customers Love Subscription Services 

You should never forget that subscription business success relies heavily on whether the company meets the needs and requests of its consumers. It also depends if your brand offers the best possible solution in its class. Yet, there are more things to consider. Make sure your retail subscription service:

Helps Them Save Time & Money

Most merchants offering subscription boxes can thrive without having a physical store. This allows them to offer lower prices. For the customers, it’s a perfect opportunity to get the needed products delivered to their door for less. In times when optimizing your routine is a must for focusing your productivity on what really matters, subscribing to goods from retailers seems like an optimal solution.

Frees Them from Making the Same Choices Over and Over

Food and grocery shopping is far from the most looked-forward to experience for many consumers, which is why they subscribe to monthly or weekly deliveries of boxes packed with essentials. This automates their buying behavior and provides them with the comfort they need. Most importantly, it averts the anxiety associated with in-person shopping, and for the anxiety-prone, it’s indeed an important matter.

Allows Them to Get a Personalized Experience

Giving the clients the freedom to customize their boxes is a challenge for many retailers, but it can pay off very soon. Here’s how. 

Imagine you sell only boxes with a definite list of groceries your clients get every month. There is a huge possibility that not all of them use, let’s say, flour very often, and when it keeps piling in the pantry, there’s a chance they’ll simply unsubscribe from the whole thing. Personalizing features can help in such cases, and progressive retail subscription companies have already introduced them.  

Gives the Feeling of Certainty

We’ve all been in the situation when we run out of wine, internet services, or mobile data at the most inappropriate moment, and we all know the stress associated with it. Subscription-based companies provide their customers not only with the products/services they pay for but also with the certainty they will have the necessary items delivered on time. This is particularly important to develop trust in the brand, which can go a long way. 

Puts Them in Control of Their Spendings

Budget planning is a big thing for the modern generation, but it’s not possible without tracking your outgoings first. Even though the tracking option isn’t a unique selling proposition (unless it’s a subscription-based software as a service, of course), it helps consumers count and manage their money. Indeed, knowing that they need X dollars every month for particular goods allows them to see a bigger financial picture when it comes to long-term budget planning. 

Now that we’ve covered why retail subscription services are popular with both providers and target audiences, let’s see what can make your subscription brand popular with the users.

Top factors that will define your brand’s popularity


Ready for your popularity checklist? Follow these principles, and you’ll be on your road to success in no time.

Good Value for Money

62% of respondents define value for money as the most important reason for signing up for any subscription-based company. This is a good caveat for startups in particular, as it shows that there should be a well-developed balance between the quality and the price, as well as detailed research of the target audience.

High-Quality Products/Services

45% of respondents, however, consider the quality of the products as the main driving force for subscribing. And it’s particularly the product quality that can make people market your brand without your active participation.

Customization Option

Selling ready-made boxes is OK, but if you want to retain your clients, you should also allow them to make changes when they need to. Otherwise, they will simply change your brand for the one that has this feature.

On-Time Delivery

Delivery is a part of the service your subscription-based company offers and promises, so any issues regarding that can impact your reputation. Put every effort into making sure clients receive their packages on time. 

International Shipping

Opening your business to overseas clients isn’t only the way to expand — it’s also a great move for your brand. However, you can’t do it without opening a merchant account first. With international shipping, be ready to take into account the delivery time and taxes. When subscribers are warned about them in advance, they appreciate your concern.

Secure Checkout

Making electronic transactions without compromising the safety of any financial data involved is a basic right. For those subscription services that offer autopay and billing renewals, this becomes even more important since we’re talking about storing financial data. Using a safe payment gateway is of crucial importance. 

Unique Offers and Promotions

In any business, delivering more than expected strengthens the relationship with the brand, and the retail subscription market is no different. Referral programs, seasonal deals, or limited-time promos will keep customers engaged with the brand and serve as a great marketing tool for upselling.

Free Samples

Adding new items to the list ensures dynamic brand growth, develops the client’s curiosity, and helps land new customers. But how do you market it if you’re a subscription business? Discounts alone might not be an option since the people aren’t willing to pay for what they haven’t tried. Here’s where offering samples might do a better job. For instance, Sephora gives two free samples with each order, so you can order a full-size product later and be happy about the purchase rather than spend money and get disappointed. 

Loyalty Rewards

In times of the retail subscription services boom, clients search for merchants that provide the best value. Small things like loyalty rewards for orders, referrals, invitations, feedback, or review can become that difference the clients are looking for. 

Easy and Pleasant Shopping Experience

Let’s be honest and realistic: the current market is a bad place to offer a mediocre shopping experience. The clients have some expectations based on their previous purchases from various brands, so maintaining a smooth shopping experience is the basis for every subscription company. And for that, you need software like Subbly.

The Bottom Line

Retail subscription services are great shopping alternatives for customers, as well as a promising business model for new and established companies. They help save time and money, make data-based decisions and market new items, keep the customers engaged and bank accounts growing.

And the best way to manage all that is by using tools like Subbly. We provide top-class subscription management software solutions to help your brand grow. Sign up for a free 14-day trial today and secure a better future for your company!

By Ann Bailey
Сontent creator at Subbly