Subscription is everywhere: user flow analysis for 10 business types


Subscription business is everywhere. For a user, it’s simply cheaper to use or experience a product without the high cost of owning it. For a company, the cost to acquire users is lower, and subscribers bring recurring revenues. For any business model, it is crucial to keep high enough average customer life-time value (LTV) to its company profit, so the business can afford to spend more cost to acquire a customer (CAC).

CAC — The cost to acquire a customer

LTV — The life-time value of a customer to a company

Why everything is a subscription | The Verge

Adobe with digital creative software, and GoPro with sturdy physical cameras

The subscription model became mainstream with digital products. Adobe, the multimedia creative software company, announced that they would start charging users a monthly fee instead of selling each software up-front in 2012. Although it was a huge controversy amongst creative users, Adobe’s move might also have benefited the users as well.

Any software constantly requires updates — they fix bugs, run security patches, or add new useful features. With Adobe’s older model, users paid thousands of dollars up-front to purchase a software, and this software wouldn’t update for any feature changes. Every year or so, the product would also provide new releases with another chunky update fee for those who want to update the software. The result was a mess — different users ended up owning different versions of software, so they had to downgrade files to share a file with others using the older version. With the subscription model, all users can update to the latest version. Additionally, users no longer have to face a huge price tag to obtain these softwares.

Adobe had attracted customers who would be its stable revenue source and the cost to acquire these customers were reduced with cheaper entry prices. Also, their high price tags had caused many users to download pirated versions, but it is difficult for pirated versions to survive in the subscription model because the software itself is meaningless without connecting to users’ online accounts.

GoPro, on the other hand, has been a company that sells millions of very sturdy, and affordable cameras. Its cameras were so sturdy that their fans didn’t have to buy new ones that frequently. This is a common issue with hardware manufacturing companies, especially with ones that makes better models. On top of the lack of strong recurring revenue stream, the production cost in the US rose, and GoPro’s new drone camera line, GoPro Kama, lacked a strong competitive edge. The company’s stock price plunged in 2015 and has not recovered since. Now, the company provides a $5/month cloud storage service GoPro Plus and has increased its subscribers.

Customer acquisition case studies

In 2011, the subscription e-commerce market was $57 million, and by 2016 it had ballooned to $2.6 billion, according to a report from McKinsey. The same report suggested that curation services, subscription boxes with clothes and cosmetics, for example, made up 55% of all subscriptions.

The key components in acquiring subscribers are a value proposition, personalization (product-and-cost variants to match the users), and incentive to try-out products (including a free trial or discount for first months). The customer acquisition could be from various media channels or strategies, including social media ads or posts, published stories, physical meet-up events, to ads on subways. Eventually, these visitors arrive at a company’s landing page. The company has one chance to convert these visitors into subscribers.

By observing websites for different subscription products, each page shows different user journeys — each requires different information from customers, promotes plans sooner in the flow, and lets customers pick their items, and so on. However, they also show similar patterns, especially amongst companies from the same industry to align with others’ competitive offerings. In this post, I document different flows in a simple format, so it’s easy to compare and use them as references in the future.

To be consistent, I focused on desktop views in this post, since it’s easier to document. Here is my older post on a similar subject focusing on mobile views: Case Study: Getting users to onboard paid subscription services.

Table of contents

Video streaming services — Hulu, HBO, Netflix, YouTube Premium, YouTube TV

Audio streaming services — Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Google Play Music, Luminary

Lifestyle concierge- fashion and cosmetic styling service — Rent the runway, Stitch Fix, Trunk Club by Nordstrom, Ipsy

Curated product package — Birchbox, FabFitFun, Mostess, Book of the month club, Snack Nation

Digital publications — Medium, The New York Times, TechCrunch / Extra Crunch, Apple News

Regular wellness kit delivery — Dollar Shave Club, Quip, Harry’s, Ritual

Members-only shopping experience — Amazon Prime, Costco, Sam’s Club, Postmates Unlimited

Productivity tools — Grammarly, Evernote

Educational and physical classes — Peloton, Codecademy, Strava Summit, Calm

Meal-kit— Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Plated

Video streaming services

After Netflix standardized the service format, the competitive landscape of video streaming services forced each company to invest more on their original content. The established cable-TV giant, HBO, is a clear example that effectively uses its original content to drive more people to sign up for their free trial. For those companies, 7-day free trial is a standard- the duration seems to be long enough to complete the original series that a subscriber signs up for. However, the duration is also short enough that they may end up not finishing the series, or forget about cancelling before the trial period ends. Therefore, recouping their credit card information before starting a trial period is extremely crucial.

Netflix

Users cannot stream any of the content until they start the free trial period with credit card information. Unlike other streaming services, their website won’t promote or show any previews without holding an account.

Price:

  • $8.99/month — Unlimited access without HD or Ultra HD, and watchable by only 1 screen at a time.
  • $12.99/month — Unlimited access without Ultra HD, and watchable by only 2 screens at a time.
  • $15.99/month — Unlimited access and watchable by 4 screens at a time.

Free trial:

  • 30 days — Credit card is required, If you use the same payment method (i.e. credit card) for another account, you are not eligible for the free trial.

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Select a plan
  2. Fill out email and password
  3. Fill out credit card information
  4. Confirm for the payment
  5. Add phone number for password recovery
  6. Choose devices to watch with
  7. Choose favorite 3 movies or more from the list

HBO

Users cannot stream most of the content until they start the free trial period with credit card information. Their unique strategy is to provide free content, which does not require any credit card information, similar to pirate episode strategies with TV shows.

Price:

  • $14.99/month — Unlimited access

Free trial:

  • 7 days — Credit card is required

Flow to start a free trial or to view free episode:

When users try to sign up for a free trial

  1. Fill out emailpasswordname, and zip code
  2. Fill out credit card information

When users try to watch a free episode

  1. Fill out email, and date of birth

Hulu

Visitors cannot see anything until they start the free trial period with credit card information. Their price options include a cheaper tier, which gives access to content to subscribers but with limited advertisements. The company has announced their upcoming offline video access and the exclusive deal with DreamWorks Animation.

Price:

  • $5.99/month — Unlimited access with limited ads
  • $11.99/month — Unlimited access with no ads
  • $44.99/month — With on demand TV

Free trial:

  • 1 month — Credit card is required

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Fill out emailpasswordnamedate of birth, and gender
  2. Fill out credit card information

YouTube Premium

Subscribers can view YouTube content without ads. They’re also granted viewing of some original content and access to YouTube music.

Price:

  • $6.99/month — Student-only
  • $11.99/month — Ad-free experience and the premium YouTube original content
  • $17.99/month — Up to 5 family members

Free trial:

  • 1 month — Credit card is required

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Sign up with Google account
  2. Fill out credit card information

YouTube TV

Subscribers can access Live TV from 70+ networks. There is a base price, and costs are added as subscribers choose to add more networks to the plan.

Price:

  • $49.99/month — Live TV from 70+ networks. Local sports and news. No cable box required.

Free trial:

  • 5 day — Credit card is required

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Sign up with Google account
  2. Fill out zip code
  3. Add networks
  4. Fill out credit card information

Audio streaming services

The general scheme for digital product subscriptions of digital publications are similar to those of video streaming services. The music streaming service is no exception. However, they tend to provide free accounts with advertisement, unlike video streaming services. Music platforms do not have exclusive content as much as video platforms do. Therefore, most services provide longer free-trial periods to integrate a superior experience into customers’ daily lives.

Spotify

There is a free version with ads and limited features. The premium offering is provided at a discounted cost for 3 months instead of a free period- the long discount period is targeted at users who already know about the service, to incentivize them to join.

Price:

  • $9.99/month — No ads, offline, and skip songs.

Discount:

  • 3 months for $0.99/month — Credit card is required

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Fill out emailpasswordnamedate of birth, and gender
  2. Fill out credit card information

Apple Music

Subscribers can access the entire music library upon signing up with a 3-month free trial. The account is associated with iTunes.

Price:

  • $9.99/month — Listen to the entire library on all of your device

Free trial:

  • 3 months — Credit card is required

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Sign in with an iTunes account
  2. Fill out credit card information

Tidal

Subscribers can access the entire library upon signing up with a 30-day free trial.

Price:

  • $4.99/month — Student-only
  • $5.99/month — Military-only
  • $9.99/month — Exclusive music, videos and events with the premium sound quality
  • $14.99/month — Family up to 5 members

Free trial:

  • 30 day — Credit card is required

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Fill out emailpassword, and date of birth
  2. Fill out credit card information

Google Play Music

Subscribers can access the entire music library and the premium features without ads. Free account holders can still access music but it comes with ads.

Price:

  • $9.99/month — Ad-free, access 40 million songs on-demand, and offline access
  • $14.99/month — Family up to 6 members

Free trial:

  • 30 day — Credit card is required

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Sign up with Google account
  2. Fill out credit card information

Luminary

Premium subscribers will have access to original content and access to the ad-free experience. Free users will still have content with personalized listings, but it comes with advertisements.

Price:

  • $7.99/month

Free trial:

  • 1 month — Credit card is required

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Fill out email, and password
  2. Fill out ‘credit card information

Lifestyle concierge- fashion and cosmetic styling service

Unlike digital products, fashion and lifestyle services deliver curated and personalized physical products to customers. The common value proposition is to save customers’ time finding the right items and shopping. In order to fit to their tastes, many services ask a myriad of questions to understand customers better. Many fashion concierge services charge each consultation as the cost for subscribers. They need to choose a delivery frequency that works for their lifestyles and/or budgets. For these services, it is important to keep a strong relationship with customers and have them see value in their abstract consultation services long term.

Rent the runway

Subscribers can rent 4 high brand items at a time, and can exchange either once a month or for unlimited times depending on their subscription tier.

Price:

  • $89/month — RTR Update: Have 4 items/shipment and you can swap once a month
  • $159/month — RTR Unlimited: Have 4 items/shipment, but exchange them whenever you want for an unlimited amount of times.

Discount:

  • $40 off for 60 days Trial for the RTR Update
  • $80 off for 60 days Trial for the RTR Unlimited

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Select interests (work, wedding, vacation, black tie, night out, everything…)
  2. Select size and fill out zip code
  3. Select plan
  4. Fill out emailpassword, and date of birth (sign in with google) to “unlock offer”
  5. Fill out nameaddresszip code, and phone number
  6. Fill out credit card information

Stitch Fix

Subscribers can receive a package of personalized items after each personal consultation. The fixed $20 styling fee is charged each time, so subscriber’s monthly cost varies depending on their shipping frequency preference. Subscribers can also choose to purchase an item they receive, and $20 styling fee is credited for the purchase fee. If subscribers don’t want to keep the items, they need to return items shortly after they receive them.

Price:

  • $20/styling (Credited for purchasing an item)

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Fill out email (sign up with Facebook)
  2. Fill out name
  3. Pick gender
  4. Survey 1 (height, weight, date of birth, occupation, commute, are you a parent, sizes for each clothes type, interest in taller style, body shape) * These surveys are gender specific
  5. Survey 2 (preferences with shirt fit, button-up shirt, jeans fit, shorts height, pants’ hem, and other fit challenges) * These surveys are gender specific
  6. Survey 3 (frequency for wearing different styles, and favorite brands, price preference for each item, color and pattern preferences)
  7. Choose shipping frequencies (every 2–3 weeks, every month, every 2 months, every 3 months)
  8. Fill out credit card information

Trunk Club by Nordstrom

Subscribers can receive personalized items in a trunk after a personal consultation. The fixed $25 styling fee is the fee for the service(waived for a Nordstrom card holder), so the monthly charges depend on a subscriber’s preferred shipping frequency. Prior to receiving a trunk, the subscriber has a 48 hour window to approve the picks by the concierge. Subscribers can choose to purchase within a 5 day window, and $25 styling fee is credited for the purchase.

Price:

  • $25/styling (Waived for a Nordstrom card holder and credited for an item purchase)

Information required to register or start free trial:

  1. Pick a gender
  2. Answer where user found the service
  3. Pick a work dress style
  4. Pick a weekend dress style
  5. Pick a shirt fit preference
  6. Pick a pants fit preference
  7. List fit issues
  8. Pick colors you dislike
  9. Pick a price range you spend for each clothes category
  10. Choose brands you like
  11. Select a shirt size
  12. Select a waist size
  13. Select an inseam size
  14. Select a shoe size
  15. Fill out height and weight
  16. Fill out age
  17. Answer if you prefer to visit the clubhouse to talk to a stylist in person (Only available at specific locations)
  18. Pick delivery frequency (Every month, 2, or 3 months)’
  19. Fill out namezip codephoneemail, and password

Ipsy

Subscribers receive a monthly box full of personalized makeup items. Ipsy makes a slim profit off of each box by receiving free samples from cosmetic companies. Ipsy also makes millions of profits off of youtube ad-revenues from their influencers’ videos. Ipsy is close to another category, the surprise package, as well, but it has a strong personalization aspect. According to McKinsey, Ipsy has the third-highest number of subscribers after Amazon and Dollar Shave Club.

“We can’t lose sight of any part of it: the bags, the influencers, the brands we work with. If customers are dissatisfied with even one part of the experience, everything falls apart.” — Marcelo Camberos, Ipsy CEO

Price:

  • $10/month — Glam Bag with 5 beauty products worth $50 or more
  • $25/month — Glam Bag Plus with 5 beauty products worth $120 or more
  • $35/month — Two bags combined worth $170 or more

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Survey 1 (Skin color)
  2. Survey 2 (Eye color)
  3. Survey 3 (Hair color)
  4. Survey 4 (Comfortability with makeup)
  5. Survey 5 (Favorite cosmetic brands)
  6. Survey 6 (Frequency of purchasing each makeup product type)
  7. Survey 7 (Frequency of purchasing each skincare, haircare, and nailcare product)
  8. Survey 8 (Frequency of purchasing each eyeshadows, eyeliner, lips, nail polish, blush product)
  9. Survey 9 (Favorite fragrance)
  10. Survey 10 (Place to shop makeup products)
  11. Survey 11 (Skin concerns)
  12. Survey 12 (Hair type)
  13. Fill out emailpassword, and age
  14. Choose a plan
  15. Fill out nameaddress, and credit card information

Curated product package

Image source: birchbox

Similar to the Concierge service subscriptions, subscribers will receive a box filled with attractive products periodically from either every month to every season. Keeping a narrative and context is important to these products to keep each subscriber engaged. This is unlike the Concierge services that are less personalized or of the counseling-style. Instead, these curated product packages have strong curators and more niche fans who follow clear branding of each service.

Birchbox

Every month, subscribers receive a package with a mix of deluxe makeup, hair, and skincare samples, along with helpful tips. There is a simple base to the service with some delivery-frequency and price variants. Birchbox’s business model relies on subscribers purchasing a full-size product from its portal after trying smaller samples from the box. However, the business had been reported to be struggling to make itself profitable.

“Birchbox created a very powerful tool for the casual consumer. She can stay passive, and Birchbox is the active player, the mechanism that keeps her in the know. Passive consumption is very powerful, so we have to figure out how to keep doing the heavy lifting for her, whether she stays a monthly subscriber or not.” — Katia Beaucham, Birchbox CEO

Price:

  • $13/month — 12-month plan
  • $14/month — 6-month plan
  • $15/month — Monthly plan

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Choose a plan
  2. Fill out nameemail, and password
  3. Fill out address and credit card information

FabFitFun

Every season, subscribers receive a box with full-sized cosmetic and wellness products, unlike sample-sized products in Birchbox. FabFitFun claims that their products box’s value is four times the subscription cost. To entice subscribers even more, FabFitFun produces member-only cooking or workout videos, and manages an online message board for their subscribers.

“We’re fully aware that we can lose a subscriber at any time, but if members see us as more than just a box, but access to a community and valuable knowledge, then it’s hard to put a price on how much that experience is worth.” — Katie Ann Rosen Kitchens, FabFitFun, Co-founder

Price:

  • $49.99/month

Discount:

  • $179.99/year instead of $199.99/year

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Choose a plan and fill out emailpasswordname, and address

Mostess

Unlike other subscription boxes that emphasize their bonus values, Mostess delivers luxurious items every season. Subscribers receive a box without knowing its content, however, people can also purchase a one-time box which shows what the content is, and costs more. The purchase experience is very similar to that of a regular e-commerce website.

“I’ve found that my customers want the convenience of having someone curate these products for them, and enjoy the unboxing experience every month: This is worth the cost to them.” — Lindsey Rose King, Mostess, founder.

Price:

  • $520/year
  • $135/season

Discount:

  • $120 off ($30 off for each box) from one time box with the annual plan

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Choose a plan (Seasonal / annual)
  2. Confirm an item detail before checking out
  3. Fill out email and password (You can skip password or creating an account by just filling out email)
  4. Fill out nameaddresscompany, and phone number
  5. Fill out credit card information

Book of the month club

Book of the month was founded in 1928. It offers a selection of five new hardcover books each month to its members. Each member can select their own choice from the recommendations and get it delivered.

Price:

  • $14.99/month

Discounts:

  • $9.99 for the first book

Flow to become a member:

  1. Select a book
  2. Fill out nameemail, and password
  3. Confirm the book’s details and add it to a cart (The book becomes your book of the month)
  4. Fill out address and credit card information

Snack Nation

Every month, subscribers receive a package of snacks with its snack count preference depending on each subscriber. There is a discount by choosing a 3-month or longer plan. Snack Nation also offers a bigger package for an office environment, which is to be quoted upon contacting them.

Price:

  • $9.99/month — 6 snacks
  • $24.99/month — 15 snacks
  • $39.99/month — 25 snacks

Discounts:

  • 5% off — 3-month plan
  • 10% off — 6-month plan
  • 15% off — 12-month plan

Flow to become a subscriber:

  1. Pick a snack box (users can purchase individual snacks)
  2. Pick a package
  3. Choose a plan
  4. Confirm your choices
  5. Fill out emailpasswordnameaddress, and phone number
  6. Fill out credit card information

Digital publications

Media is one of the oldest subscription business models; companies have been delivering newspapers and magazines to houses for about a century. With today’s ease of sharing digitized information, printed information is tough to continue monetizing. Some publishers maintain the quality and freshness of stories to justify the subscription cost. Other companies bundle “experiences”, such as access to conferences or events, together with digital articles. The meter-paywall, which gives readers access to only a few articles a month for free, is unique to digital publishers, used to preview content to convince a reader to become a subscriber.

Medium

Subscribers have unlimited access to Medium’s premium and curated content. Without signing up for the premium membership, each reader has up to 2 free premium articles per month..

Price:

  • $5/month ($50/year) — Get unlimited access to all stories

Free preview:

  • Get a preview of premium content a maximum of 2 times per month

Flow to become a subscriber:

  1. Fill out email and password (Sign in with Google, Facebook, or Twitter accounts)
  2. Choose a plan and fill out credit card information

The New York Times

Subscribers will have unlimited access to the premium curated content. Without signing up for the premium membership, each user will have 5–10 free articles per month. Presumably, these numbers vary because of their running product tests and promotions.

Price:

  • $15/month — Get unlimited access to all stories

Discount and Free preview:

  • Free articles 5–10x/month
  • $1/week for one year subscription (promotional)

Flow to become a subscriber:

  1. Fill out email, and password (Sign up with Facebook or Google)
  2. Fill out name and ‘credit card information

TechCrunch / Extra Crunch

Many of TechCrunch articles are free for readers. ExtraCrunch membership subscribers, on the other had, will have unlimited access to its premium and curated stories. The members also have access to extra features, such as save-articles function, an ad-free experience, and rapid-read functions. Additionally, the membership offers special event access, such as conference calls to reporters and discounted conference tickets.

Price:

  • $15/month ($135/year)

Discount:

  • $5/month instead of $15/month for 1 month

Flow to become a subscriber:

  1. Choose a plan
  2. Fill out emailpassword, and date of birth
  3. Verify with the verification code sent to email
  4. Fill out credit card information

Apple News

Apple News subscription plan provides unlimited access to hundreds of magazines and leading newspapers. The access can be given to up to 6 of the subscriber’s family members.

Price:

  • $9.99/month

Flow to become a subscriber:

  1. Pay with iTunes account(Open a Mac App)

Regular wellness kit delivery

“Shave time, shave money”– the promotional copy by Dollar Shave Club, which essentially summarizes the value proposition for most services of this kind. As with most services like Dollar Shave Club, subscribers purchase a high-quality base product and receive a replacement kit (a disposable portion of this product) regularly. They select these products and customize them with extra features similar to a regular e-commerce experience.

Just like other physical product subscription services, most services let users choose a delivery frequency for replacement kits to match their personal lifestyle. Also, many services provide a steep discount toward their first delivery, but not a free trial.

Dollar Shave Club

Subscribers will receive shave, shower, and/or oral products every 2, 3, or 4 months. The 1st trial package is $5 per product, and regular prices kick in for deliveries after that. Regular prices listed below are based on the default every-2-months option. After their viral success in 2012, Dollar Shave Club was acquired by Unilever for $1billion in 2017.

“Most consumer packaged-goods companies distribute through a retailer, so you never know who your best customers are, but Michael found a powerful way to connect directly with the consumer.” — Romitha Mally, J.P. Morgan, Managing Director, who was a key person connecting the Dollar Shave Club to Unilever.

Price:

  1. $44.00/restock — shave product
  2. $21.50/restock — shower product
  3. $10.00/restock — oral product

Trial and Discount:

  • $5.00 for the first trial
  • 5–15% discount depending on numbers of items.

$39.60/restock instead of $44.00/restock — shave product

$20.43/restock instead of $21.50/restock — shower product

$9.50/restock instead of $10.00/restock — oral product

Flow to become a subscriber:

  1. Choose products (shave, shower, oral care)
  2. Fill out nameemail, and password (Sign up with Facebook, Paypal)
  3. Fill out address and credit card information

Quip

Quip is an oral product subscription service. Subscribers purchase a base equipment and receive replacement kits, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, in the frequency of their choice.

Price:

  • $10/3-month for a replacement kit
  • $25 ($40 for metal and $55 for edition) for a base product

Discount:

  • $5 off by prepaying the refill kits for 12 months

Flow to become a subscriber:

  1. Select a base and refill kits
  2. Fill out nameemail, and password
  3. Fill out addresszip codephone number, and shipping options
  4. Fill out credit card information

Harry’s

Harry’s sells men’s personal care products like a shaving kit. Subscribers purchase base equipment and receive refill kits in the frequency of their choice.

Price:

  • $16, $22 or $35 per shipment for refill kits (blades, foaming shaves, and gel)
  • From $13 ($24 for chrome material) for a base equipment

Discount:

  • $5 off ($6 off for chrome material)

Flow to become a subscriber:

  1. Select a base equipment
  2. Select a refill kit
  3. Select a refill delivery frequency
  4. Fill out email and password (Sign up with Facebook)
  5. Fill out address
  6. Fill out credit card information

Ritual

Subscribers receive a 30-day supply of women’s multivitamins or women’s prenatal vitamins that only contain clean, essential nutrients. Ritual’s minimal product line is focused and clear, and it has cult followers, thanks to its social media strategies.

“We were the first to market in our space to have really built a direct-to-consumer brand in the vitamin supplement industry. For us, that was about having direct touch points with customers online and, for instance, responding to every single question and statement on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with depth and purpose.”

Katerina Schneider, Ritual, Founder and CEO

Price:

  • $30/month — Essential for Women
  • $35/month — Essential Prenatural

Flow to become a subscriber:

  1. Choose a plan
  2. Check the plan details
  3. Fill out nameemail, and password
  4. Fill out companyaddress, and zip code
  5. Fill out credit card information (Pay with Paypal account)

Members-only shopping experience

Originally known as a warehouse club, the idea of the now known Amazon Prime is to give customers access to either exclusive items or provide additive shopping perks by charging customers for a membership. The key benefits have to be strong and clear enough to consumers to ensure they keep paying a fee on top of the price of products.

Amazon Prime

Ask anyone around you and most will say yes to being an Amazon Prime member. 100 million subscribers worldwide think it’s worth subscribing to Prime. The most notable perk is its same-day or two-day shipping, depending on the items and cities, for over 100 million items. There is also much more included in the shopping perks: a delivery to your garage or car if that’s safer for you, exclusive access to Prime-only items, and 2-hour fresh grocery delivery with added AmazonFresh membership.

The other strong perks are its digital offerings. Amazon Prime has its own movie and drama series, just like video streaming services. Prime users can also opt-in for Amazon Music Unlimited to access 2 million songs ad-free. Now, Prime is the base membership that gives you access to so many different services that Amazon provides, which costs separate membership fees. Since Amazon Prime is so big and complex, and its opt-in flow is not straight forward, I will keep it simple in this post for comparison sake, and I hope to conduct separate research specifically on Amazon Prime.

Price:

  • $12.99/month

Free-trial and Discount:

  • 30-day free trial
  • 6-month free trial for students
  • $6.49/month for students
  • $5.99/month for qualifying customers with EBT or Medicaid Card

Flow to become a member:

  1. Fill out nameemail, and password
  2. Enter a confirmation code sent to the email address
  3. Add a credit card information

Costco

Costco, founded in 1983, is a member-only wholesale supermarket. All items are at a discounted price. With its highly efficient storage-style shopping experience, middle-man costs such as unpacking and displaying are significantly cut. In order to purchase at Costco, customers have to become a member by paying an annual membership fee.

Price:

  • $60/year — Gold star
  • $120/year — Gold star executives: 2% rewards and extra services

Flow to become a member:

  1. Select a membership plan
  2. Fill out nameaddressemailphone number, and password
  3. Accept membership agreement
  4. Fill out credit card information

Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club, founded in 1983 and operated by Walmart Inc, is a member-only wholesale supermarket. Costco has been a key competitor and they follow a similar business model.

Price:

  • $45/year
  • $100/year — Sam’s Club Plus: $10 back for every $500 spent, free shipping, and an access to the store on early hours

Flow to become a member:

  1. Select a membership plan
  2. Fill out nameemailpasswordaddress, and phone number
  3. Fill out credit card information

Postmates Unlimited

Postmates offers delivery from over 250 thousand restaurants and stores with delivery fees ranging from $1.99-$9.99 depending on the merchant and order. Each month, users order over 3 million deliveries through the Postmates platform. With a Postmates Unlimited membership, members get free delivery on orders over $15 from all available merchants.

Price:

  • $9.99/month or $99.99/year

Postmates:

  • 7-day free trial
  • Save 17% off with the annual plan
  • One of Capital One credit cards offers a free subscription.

Flow to become a member:

  1. Fill out address for delivery (Most users will probably go straight to stores to order from the results page)
  2. Fill out email and password (Sign up with Facebook)
  3. Fill out name
  4. FIll out credit card information

Productivity tools

There are so many digital tools to help you be productive, and it’s important for these services to become a habit for users. This is especially true when service providers need to convince users to subscribe for more premium experiences. Thus, most productivity services provide free access with limited but abundant features.

In addition, ubiquitous access is important for these tools to become indispensable for users. Therefore, many of these tools provide apps on different platforms including browser extensions. A popular perk of subscription plans is to allow a subscriber to access the service from multiple or unlimited devices. There is also a shareability feature between team members.

Grammarly

Subscribers will have full features for fixing their writing, including ineffective vocabulary, overused words, passive voice overuse, and more. The sign up process does not mention their premium subscription, but showcases visitor examples and encourages them to try it.

Price:

  • $11.66/month — Annual plan
  • $19.98/month — Quarterly plan
  • $29.95/month — Monthly plan

Discount:

  • Discount price in effect as longer plan is chosen (see rates above)

Flow to start a free trial

  1. Install an extension (i.e. Safari extension)
  2. Fill out emailpassword, and name
  3. Answer a use case survey to personalize
  4. Choose a plan
  5. Fill out credit card information

Evernote

Evernote is a smart note product. Subscribers will gain access to features including annotating PDFs, better organization tools, and team collaboration capabilities for higher-end planning.

Price:

  • Free — The basic note taking course.
  • $7.99/month — Organized by version history, annotates PDF, recommendations and other features.
  • $14.99/month/user — Share notes with a team

Free trial:

  • 14-day free (The option available when billed annually)

Flow to start a free trial

  1. Choose a plan
  2. Fill out email and password (Sign up with Google)
  3. Fill out credit card information

Educational and physical classes

Peloton

Subscribers can access various online fitness classes and can build relationships with instructors. Special equipment, such as a stationary bike machine, may be required to attend some classes. I have discovered two free trial patterns, 2-month free after paying for the 1st month, and 2-week free classes that do not require one’scredit card information.

Price:

  • $19.49/month — Classes
  • $2,245 — A Peloton bike
  • $2,404 — A Peloton bike, shoes, weights, headphones
  • $2,494 — A Peloton bike, shoes, weights, headphones, heart rate monitor, bike mat
  • $2,694 — A Peloton bike, shoes, weights, headphones, heart rate monitor, bike mat, water bottle

Free trial:

  • 2-month free, after paying for the first month
  • 2-week free classes — No credit card is required. Subscribers need the Peloton equipments for some classes.

Flow to start a free trial

For 2-months free

  1. Fill out email and credit card information

For 2-week free classes

  1. A free class promotion will popup in the website
  2. Fill out email and password
  3. Fill out the username and location
  4. Select a class

Codecademy

Subscribers will have access to the premium service like quizzes, portfolio-building projects, and personalized courses.

Price:

  • $39.99/month

Discount:

  • $19.99/month with 12 month subscription or $29.99/month with 6 month subscription contracts

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Select a plan
  2. Fill out emailpassword, and credit card information

Strava Summit

Subscribers receive body analytics such as heart ratings and personalized race goals.

Price:

  • $5.00/month

Free trial:

  • 7-day free trial

Flow to start a free trial:

  1. Fill out email and password (Sign up with Facebook or Google)
  2. Confirm your email
  3. Agree the policy and conditions
  4. Fill out namedate of birth, and gender
  5. Connect with your Facebook friend (optional)
  6. Allow access to health-related data
  7. Choose to subscribe to email newsletters (optional)
  8. Opt-in for Strava Summit 7-day free trial
  9. Fill out credit card information

Calm

Subscribers receive daily calm meditation program on the app.

Price:

  • $59.99/year or $399.99/life

Free trial:

  • 7-day free, after paying for the first month

Registration information:

  1. Fill out email and password (Signup with Facebook)
  2. Fill out credit card information

Meal kit

Home-cooking is often a means to save money for many of us. Meal kit services promote the idea of delivering healthy and easy-to-make recipes to homes with “affordable” prices minus the hassle of food-prepping. They are often much cheaper than going to a restaurant, but not as cheap as cooking at home.

Many subscribers also find that cooking takes too long to keep it as a regular activity, even with these companies’ efforts to keep each pack as ready as possible. These companies compete with each other with more attractive recipes, and the cooking lesson aspect to entice subscribers to stay longer.

Blue Apron

Subscribers get to choose from a wide variety of package plans. There is no built in free-trial, but Blue Apron runs a lot of promotional marketing campaigns.

Price:

$9.99/serving with the 2 servings plan

  • $47.95/week — 2 recipes per week
  • $59.94/week — 3 recipes per week

$7.49 — $8.99/serving with the 4 servings plan

  • $71.92/week — 2 recipes per week
  • $95.88/week — 3 recipes per week
  • $119.84/week — 4 recipes per week

Flow to subscribe:

  1. Fill out email and password (Sign up with Facebook)
  2. Choose a plan
  3. Fill out nameaddressphone number, and credit card information
  4. Choose meal for the first delivery

Hello Fresh

Subscribers get to choose from a wide variety of package plans just like other meal pack services. However, unlike how Blue Apron shows all of its options on a single screen, Hello Fresh shows less options on the screen at a time as to not confuse visitors. At the time of my visit, visitors could get a promotional coupon (8 free meals) immediately at their home page.

Price:

$7.49 — $8.99/serving

  • Choose preference between Meat & Veggies, Veggies, Family, or Healthy
  • Choose between 2 or 4 people
  • Choose from 2, 3, or 4 recipes per week

Free trial (Promotional gift code is issued):

  • 8 free meals

Flow to subscribe:

  1. Choose a plan
  2. Fill out email and password
  3. Fill out nameaddress, and phone number
  4. Fill out credit card information
  5. Choose meal for the first delivery

Plated

Unlike Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, subscribers of Plated choose meals for a package at the beginning of the flow. Visitors have a better sense of exactly what they receive as they subscribe for this service. In the meantime, the company takes a risk if the potential customers don’t find any interest within the selection at the time. There is also a 25% discount for the first four weeks.

Price:

$11.95/serving with the 2 servings plan

  • $47.80/week — 2 nights per week
  • $71.70/week— 3 nights per week
  • $95.60/week — 3 nights per week

$9.95/serving with the 3 or 4 servings plan

  • $59.70, $89.55, or $119.40/week — 3 servings for 2, 3, or 4 nights per week
  • $79.60, $119.40, or $159.20/week —4 servings for 2, 3, or 4 nights per week$119.40/week — 4 nights per week

Free trial:

  • 25% off your first four weeks

Flow to subscribe:

  1. Fill out emailpassword, and zip code
  2. Choose a preference (Beef, fish, lamb, pork, poultry, shellfish, vegetarian)
  3. Choose meal
  4. Fill out namephone numberaddress, and optional Delivery instruction
  5. Fill out credit card information

Follow on Medium: https://uxdesign.cc/subscription-is-everywhere-user-flow-case-study-for-10-business-types-e0d54ae293c9

References

Inside the $2.6 billion subscription box wars | Fastcompany

Why everything is a subscription | The Verge

Many retail subscription companies are still trying to figure out how to succeed in an overcrowded industry — these 9 services rise above the rest | Business Insider

Adobe’s Software Subscription Model Means You Can’t Own Your Software | Scientific American

GoPro turns its first profit since 2017, thanks to the Hero 7 | The Verge

3 Lessons Investors Can Learn From GoPro Stock’s Dramatic Collapse | The Motley Fool

The Sky Is Falling For GoPro | Forbes

GoPro’s Karma Drone Is Officially Dead | Outside

Hulu reveals 20 million subscribers in its appeal to advertisers | Fast Company

FabFitFun gets a whopping $80M to dominate the subscription box economy | Fast Company

31 useful Amazon Prime benefits to know that go beyond free 2-day shipping | Business Insider

Ritual raises $25M for its subscription-based women’s daily vitamin | TechCrunch

Postmates expands Unlimited, a Prime-style subscription service, to 250k merchants | TechCrunch

Capital One Savor cardholders can get a free Postmates Unlimited subscription — here’s how | Business Insider

How Dollar Shave Club Rode a Viral Video to Sales Success | Inc

How Dollar Shave Club’s Founder Built a $1 Billion Company That Changed the Industry | Entrepreneur

How Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp Evolved Along With Her Brand | Entrepreneur

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