Selling subscriptions can transform an ecommerce store, providing a steady stream of recurring revenue and fostering customer loyalty. According to Internet Retailing’s recent Subscription Report, nearly two thirds of Millenials pay out regularly for subscriptions to premium services.

Shopify is a leading ecommerce platform, and for good reason, but with no subscription functionality available out of the box, many of its users may be wondering how they can capitalise on this emerging trend.

The good news is, selling subscriptions on Shopify is actually quite easy. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to get  started.

Does Shopify support subscriptions?

Whether you’re offering subscription boxes, digital memberships, or recurring product deliveries, Shopify makes it easy to set up and manage subscription services. While you won’t find this functionality natively, the platform recently released the Shopify Subscriptions app, which is quick and simple to install. Many retailers have been operating subscriptions on Shopify long before the release of this app, however, via third party integrations found in the extensive Shopify App Store.

Why sell subscriptions?

Predictable revenue: subscriptions create a steady, predictable income stream. According to Shopify, subscriptions can contribute up to 56% more revenue per customer. 

Customer loyalty: regular, repeated transactions build stronger customer relationships.

Convenience for customers: subscriptions offer a hassle-free experience, especially for products that customers need regularly

Better inventory management: regular sales and predictable revenue allow for better inventory management, making it easier to plan ahead for expenses and stock supply.

How to sell subscriptions on Shopify

Step 1: choose the right subscriptions app

There are multiple Shopify apps to help you add subscription functionality to your online store. Some of our the most popular Shopify subscription apps include:

Recharge: easy subscription management with more robust features, such as no-code customer portals and dynamic bundles

Seal: sell classic and prepaid subscriptions with tiered discounts and custom shipping.

Shopify Subscriptions: great for businesses with simple subscription needs wanting to sell staple products on a recurring basis, for example coffee or cleaning products.

To install an app, go to the Shopify App Store, search for the subscription app of your choice, and click Add App. Follow the on-screen instructions to install and configure the app.

Step 2: configure subscription plans

Once you’ve installed your chosen subscription app, the next step is to set up your subscription plans. Here’s how:

Create a new subscription product: navigate to the subscription app within your Shopify admin panel and create a new subscription product.

Set pricing and billing cycles: define the price and billing frequency (e.g., weekly, monthly, quarterly) for your subscription.

Customise subscription options: customise options such as trial periods, setup fees, and discounts for long-term subscriptions.

Step 3: add subscription options to existing products

If you want to offer subscriptions for existing products:

Edit the product: go to the product page in your Shopify admin.

Add subscription options: use the subscription app to add subscription options to the product.

Adjust inventory settings: ensure your inventory settings can handle recurring orders.

Step 4: optimise the checkout experience

Ensure the checkout process for subscriptions is smooth:

Simplify checkout: minimise the number of steps required to complete a purchase.

Provide clear information: clearly state the terms of the subscription, including billing frequency, cancellation policy, and renewal details.

Offer multiple payment options: support a variety of payment methods to accommodate different customer preferences. Shopify allows for easy integrations with most major payment gateways, like PayPal, Klarna and Apple Pay.

Step 5: manage subscriptions

Managing subscriptions involves tracking recurring orders, handling customer inquiries, and managing payments. Most subscription apps offer comprehensive dashboards where you can:

View subscription details: monitor active, paused, and cancelled subscriptions.

Manage customer accounts: help customers update their billing information, pause their subscriptions, or change their subscription plans.

Track payments: ensure all payments are processed smoothly and address any payment failures.

Some subscription apps, such as Recharge, will come with customer portals, allowing customers to manage their subscription orders (delivery frequency, payment details, etc.) directly from their own accounts. This limits the amount of work required from the retailer. 

Shopify subscriptions in action

Now let’s take a look at how Shopify subscriptions can look in the real world. As a Shopify development agency, we’ve helped several of our clients to implement and successfully run a subscription buying model within their online stores. 

Hexhamshire Organics

In 2021, local farm Hexhamshire Organics came to us with a slow website that was struggling to keep up with rising demand for their fresh fruit and veg deliveries. We built them a Shopify website, using integrations to achieve the functionality needed for their northeast subscription service. As well as a range of pre-determined boxes, they also offer customers the option to build their own box, choosing from the produce available or in season at the time.

Relo

We launched a new Shopify website for Relo in March 2024. Relo offers a range of nutritionally balanced meals that you can grab and go, and they needed to be able to offer their customers full control over their subscriptions. Using integrations from React and Seal Subscriptions, we were able to create a custom bundle builder, allowing for a quick and simple shopping experience. We also implemented tiered discounts to incentivise customers to make larger purchases. When a customer enters product quantities, they are shown additional available discounts, encouraging sales.


Looking to launch your own subscriptions on Shopify but not sure where to start? We’d love to help – send us a message to get started.