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How to set up a Shopify subscription box & grow your MRR

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Every online store — and nearly every business, for that matter — faces one major struggle: generating dependable revenue streams.

The key to long-term growth and scalability is guaranteed income, month after month. It helps you make Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) and one of the best ways to bring in that monthly revenue is by selling subscription boxes!

Looking to add recurring revenue to your business today? Try Bold Subscriptions — the ultimate subscriptions management tool.

In this guide, I’ll teach you the basic considerations for setting up a subscription box that will start generating you your MRR.

This is achievable for any store and relatively easy to set up without expert help, especially on platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce.

But first...

Why set up subscription boxes?

Subscription boxes can be challenging, but if you pull it off, they can be a big money maker.

A study done by McKinsey & Company found that the subscription ecommerce market grew by more than 100% percent a year from 2013 to 2018, with the largest retailers generating more than $2.6B in sales in 2016, up from $57.0M in 2011.

In other words: There’s lots of money to be made.

But with all of the subscription boxes out there, you’re probably wondering what works. McKinsey & Company covered that too.

Amazon Subscribe & Save and the Dollar Shave Club (both examples of recurring product subscriptions) ranked number one and two across the board with both men and women. Another reason to start up a subscription box?

Customer retention.

Subscription boxes can be a great strategy to turn one-time shoppers into return customers. They can also be the foundation for loyalty systems, like friend referrals and discounts for bigger purchases.

What type of subscription box should you sell?

Before you dive into anything, let’s explore some of your options. Almost every subscription can be classified in one of the seven models below.

Automate the purchase of commodity items such as food, toiletries, household items, or anything that needs refilling.

  • Model 2: Convertible subscriptions

Ease customers into your service with an introductory offer that automatically converts into a standard subscription after a set interval.

  • Model 3: Build-a-box

Let customers build a custom box of products that’s delivered on a recurring interval.

  • Curation models

Surprise and delight subscribers by providing new items or highly personalized experiences.

  • Model 4: Curated boxes

Delight consumers with a unique collection or multi-brand offering they can’t get anywhere else.

  • Access Subscriptions

Provide lower prices or members-only perks for a recurring fee.

  • Model 6: Exclusive

Offer subscribers lower prices, virtual content, or members-only perks for a recurring fee.

  • Model 7: Brick and mortar

Offer subscribers lower prices, virtual content, or members-only perks for a recurring fee.

Pre-paid subscription boxes

Any of these models could also work with pre-paid options. For example, your customers to pay for a three month subscription (at a discount) up front. All you have to do is send products out monthly until their subscription ends.

Because they’ve pre-paid for a few months, you have the assurance that they won’t cancel after their second order.

For example, BarkBox allows their customers to pay $29 per month or $19 per month with a 6-month subscription.

If you want more information on each type of model, check out the ebook, 7 Subscription Models to Master! If not, the articles listed below are full of great information to help you get started.

How to set up a Shopify subscription box in 2 simple steps

Regardless of which subscription plan you choose, it’s time to talk about how to properly set up a subscription box on your Shopify (or BigCommerce!) store. Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Figure out what you want to sell

It’s time to create your first ever subscription box!

While you can jump right in and start throwing products together, we recommend doing a brainstorm session to figure out what would go well together.

There are probably obvious pairings on your store like pants with a shirt, coffee filters with your coffee blends, and so on. Sit down and start writing out products that might work well.

Don't really have any suitable subscription products? Check out our list of the Top 12 most profitable products trending for inspiration.

Step 2: Get our app for Shopify or BigCommerce

Next you’ll need to get your hands on our subscription app for Shopify, or install it for BigCommerce.

Why ours? Because...

  • We off a free trial of the app
  • We have over 1,200 five-star reviews
  • We allow single product, mixed cart & entire cart subscriptions
  • No customer login or registration required
  • It automatically syncs with your inventory
  • Customizable subscription boxes
  • Prepaid subscriptions
  • Product swapping
  • Flexible subscription billing
  • And more!

Once you’ve installed Bold Subscriptions, it’s time to set it up!

For more help installing and setting up Bold Subscriptions on Shopify, follow these steps. If you want to set one up one BigCommerce, follow these instructions. If you run into any hiccups, you can always reach out to our industry-leading support team to help you resolves any issues!

Also keep in mind that with Bold Subscriptions' flexible APIs, you can make it fit almost any platform and need.

3 Tips to grow your subscription business

Setting up your subscription box is only the first step. Here are three tips to help you sell more and increase that monthly recurring revenue!

1. Make your subscriptions as appealing as possible

This sounds simple, but to sell more, you have to make your offer enticing!


  • Offer a discount on subscriptions (vs. one-time orders).
  • Give away a free bonus. This could be free shipping, extra products, or both.
  • Incentivize your subscription box with extra loyalty points.

Experts say that if a subscription doesn't offer either a great experience or substantial savings, consumers are likely to "feel like control of purchase decisions has been lost."

Of course if you're offering a Birch Box style package of curated items, control is something that consumers have traded for the delight of a surprise. But even then, you want to make sure subscribers still feel like they're getting bang for their buck.

2. Make the subscription box an experience

The unboxing is a key part of the subscription experience. The more positive emotions you can evoke from your customers when they first get and open your box, the longer they’ll stay and the more you’ll sell.

Take Trunk Club, for example. Their packaging is high-quality and an aesthetic delight.

When you get one of their boxes, you feel great. They even include a handwritten note with every order!

3. Let users customize their box

According to Shep Hyken, a customer service expert and author of several Wall Street bestsellers, a personalized customer experience increases revenue and loyalty .

Psychologists findings agree. Apparently, when people customize something they feel like it’s already theirs: “I created it — therefore it’s mine.” It gives consumers the opportunity to express themselves, or just get the products they want.

So by giving your customers the option to customize their order, they might naturally feel more inclined to want to buy it.

Take PupBox, for example. They require you to fill out a profile about your pup before they create your personalized box.

They even give you the option to upload a photo of your dog. Personalization for pups too.

What have we learned?

By now you know exactly some of the key concepts behind setting up a Shopify subscription box that can increase your monthly recurring revenue in 2018 (and beyond)!

Subscription boxes are one of, if not the best way to grow and scale your online store. Look into it, the potential is huge!

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