Weigh the benefits of an annual subscription offering.

In the constantly evolving landscape of ecommerce, merchants have to find ways to increase customer retention and engagement, streamline their cash flow, and achieve sustainable business growth.

One strategy that has gained considerable attention in recent years is offering annual subscriptions alongside the traditional monthly subscription model. In this blog post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of annual subscriptions and discuss whether they are the right fit for your ecommerce store.

Key takeaways

  • Subscriptions give merchants the opportunity to earn recurring revenue and boost customer retention.
  • Annual subscriptions offer a reliable stream of revenue thanks to annual payments by subscribers.

Understanding the difference: Annual subscriptions vs. monthly subscriptions

Before diving into the decision-making process surrounding an annual subscription offering, let’s clarify the key differences between annual and monthly subscriptions.

Monthly subscription

With a monthly subscription model, customers pay for your product or service on a month-to-month basis. This offers flexibility, allowing customers to cancel or upgrade their subscription order at any time. However, it can result in less predictable revenue, as orders may vary by month as customer needs change. 

Annual subscription

The annual subscription option requires customers to commit to a one-year contract, paying upfront for the entire year. Annual subscriptions often come with cost savings for subscribers and can provide a more stable cash flow for online merchants.

What to consider when offering subscriptions with annual billing

Now, let’s examine the factors to consider when deciding whether to offer annual subscriptions as part of your subscription business model. If your business is considering a yearly subscription option, you’ll want to think about the points below, and whether or not annual billing is right for your business and your customers. 

1. Customer acquisition & retention

Annual subscriptions can be a powerful tool for both acquiring and retaining customers. Offering annual billing may attract customers who prefer to make a single, upfront payment for the year, and it can help lock in their commitment to your brand for an extended period. Plus, the prospect of saving money through annual plans can be a compelling incentive for potential customers, too. 

2. Predictable revenue 

One of the primary advantages of annual subscriptions is the ability to predict your revenue more accurately. With monthly subscriptions, revenue can fluctuate from one month to the next, making it challenging to plan for growth or invest in marketing initiatives. By offering annual plans, you establish a more consistent and reliable income stream, which is crucial for business stability.

3. Cash flow management

Annual subscriptions can significantly improve your cash flow management. When customers pay for an entire year upfront, merchants receive a lump sum of cash that can be used for various purposes, such as inventory restocking, marketing campaigns, or infrastructure upgrades. This can help your business operate more efficiently and seize growth opportunities, thanks to the stability offered by an annual subscription offering. 

4. Customer loyalty

Committing to a year-long subscription fosters a sense of loyalty among your customers. They are less likely to churn or switch to a competitor since they have already made a financial commitment to your brand. This loyalty can translate into longer customer relationships and increased customer lifetime value (LTV). 

Giving subscribers access to special benefits, like Bokksu does with their Community, is essential in cultivating customer relationships and better loyalty.

5. Cost savings for customers

Annual subscribers often benefit from cost savings compared to paying monthly. You can offer discounts or special perks to incentivize customers to choose the annual billing option. This not only attracts more annual subscribers but also boosts your average revenue per customer, as well.

6. Balancing monthly, annual & other recurring models

To cater to a broader audience, consider offering multiple subscription options—including monthly, annual, and other options in between. This allows customers to choose the billing frequency that suits their needs, providing flexibility and potentially increasing your customer base. 

Bokksu does a great job of offering multiple subscription options to fit customers’ needs and help them save money in the process. 

Choosing to offer annual subscriptions

Deciding whether to offer annual subscriptions for your ecommerce store requires a careful evaluation of your business goals, customer preferences, and revenue management strategies. While annual subscriptions offer numerous benefits, they may not be suitable for every business.

Ultimately, the key to success is providing options that cater to your diverse customer base. By offering both monthly and annual subscription plans, you can strike a balance between customer flexibility and the stability of a predictable revenue stream. Be sure to monitor your metrics, gather customer feedback, and adapt your approach to maximize the advantages of subscription billing for your ecommerce business.


[1] Subscriptions (Recharge)