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


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). One of the best ways to bring in monthly revenue is by selling subscription boxes

When you have subscribers, you can better forecast how you monthly revenue.

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

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

On-demand webinar: Uncover winning techniques behind top subscriptions

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 gew 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. 

Top Subscription Box Companies

Amazon Subscribe & Save and the Dollar Shave Club 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.

Get our free ebook: 7 Subscription Models to Master

What type of  subscription box should you sell?

Before you dive into anything, let’s explore some of your options.

1. The classic weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly subscription boxes

This is the most common subscription box package.

You’re able to set a delivery frequency, so whenever a customer’s card is charged, you automatically send out a delivery.

Subscription boxes like the Dollar Shave Club and HelloFresh would be examples of classic subscription boxes.

2. Pre-paid subscription boxes

This method allows your customers to pay for a 3-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.

I recommend offering a combo of the two options.

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. 

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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 hel 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!


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.

Trunk Club Subscription Box

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.

PupBox Shopify subscription box

They even give you the option to upload a photo of your dog. Personalization for pups too.
Get our free ebook: 7 Subscription Models to Master

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?

Now it’s over to you - Are you using a subscription box on your Shopify store? What advice do you have for anyone looking to start a subscription business? Drop a comment below!

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Bill Widmer

Written by Bill Widmer

Bill is an eCommerce content marketing and SEO consultant. He's run several stores and worked with many well-known brands including A Better Lemonade Stand, SaleHoo, and Lifehack.

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