Now more than ever, subscriptions are a huge part of people’s daily lives.
Not so long ago, ecommerce stores focused on one-off purchases to scale their businesses. But consumer buying preferences have shifted — brands and customers are focusing on relationship-driven ecommerce, and subscriptions are at the heart of that change.
In fact, subscriptions are now the fastest growing area of ecommerce and show no signs of slowing down any time soon. The subscription ecommerce industry is projected to be worth over $246 billion by 2025 — scaling by more than 9,400% since 2016. In two years, Shopify Plus anticipates that 75% of direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses will offer subscriptions.
In this post, we’ll cover...
- The benefits (and shortcomings) of adding a subscription service to your ecommerce store
- How to get accurate subscription tracking in Google Analytics
- Headless tracking for subscription stores
- The most important metrics and tools to get your subscription service off the ground
Benefits of adding a subscription service
If you're interested in growing your monthly sales and revenue, adding a subscription service is a great place to start. Subscriptions pose an exciting opportunity for ecommerce stores to unlock potential revenue, build long-lasting relationships with their customers, and create a community among consumers.
One of the most notable benefits of subscription ecommerce is the consistent, recurring revenue. The predictable income that comes along with subscriptions allows management to:
- Plan and invest accordingly
- Order and manage inventory more effectively
- Project profits with ease and accuracy
As Shopify Plus put it in their article on the benefits of subscription ecommerce, “on a deeper level, ecommerce subscriptions are about strong customer relationships. Subscriptions turn customers, who already see the value your company provides, into loyal followers who become reliable sources of recurring revenue.”
In fact, the longer a customer uses your product or service, the more valuable they become to you. Plus, higher customer retention rates mean lower acquisition costs in the long term.”
Where subscriptions fall short
Unfortunately, Shopify stores offering subscriptions consistently fall short in one area — their analytics setups.
Shopify Analytics gives you the baseline data, but doesn’t give you the full picture of your customer’s journey. That’s why many merchants rely on Google Analytics (GA) to dive deeper into their data.
If you’re using Shopify’s native Google Analytics connection, you’ve probably run into a whole other set of issues. From data mismatches to aggregated orders, it’s evident that Shopify and Google Analytics don’t work well together on their own.
We sampled a set of larger DTC brands on Shopify, processing over 50,000 monthly orders through a standard Shopify checkout, and found that on average only 88% of orders processed are recorded in Google Analytics. That’s a major loss; for every 100 Shopify orders, 12 go missing in Google Analytics.
Subscription stores face even greater data discrepancies, with up to 70% of Shopify orders being tracked in Google Analytics on a good day and as little as 7% being tracked on, well, a not-so-good day. The major mismatches you see in subscription stores are due to the fact that orders are processed without any customer interaction.
Data mismatches, no matter how big or small, hurt your bottom line. Whether it be marketing spend that can’t be attributed to sales or faulty retargeting campaigns, you can’t afford to make decisions based on inaccurate data.
For data-driven DTC brands, accuracy is everything! Otherwise, you’re just leaving money on the table. Lucky for you, there is a solution to fix your subscription tracking in Google Analytics.
Tracking subscriptions in Google Analytics
Searching for a tool for tracking subscriptions that works right out of the box and ensures accurate reporting? Littledata is it. Using a combination of server-side and client-side tracking, Littledata captures data at every customer touchpoint.
I know what you’re thinking — sounds too good to be true. So here’s the rundown on how the Littledata app works:
- Upon installation, Littledata adds a data layer onto your ecommerce site containing all Enhanced Ecommerce events — Google’s term for each crucial touchpoint in the customer journey.
- Littledata then adds a tracking script to capture each event as it happens.
- Finally, using combined client-side and server-side tracking, the app tracks all transactions and ensures 100% accuracy in reporting one-time orders, recurring payments, lifecycle events, and everything in between.
We work with the top subscription services on Shopify and BigCommerce to empower your ecommerce store with complete data. Littledata automatically audits and fixes your data right at the source, bringing you complete and accurate data in Google Analytics, Segment, or any of your favorite reporting tools.
Our plug-and-play solution is as simple as that. Minutes after installing, you’ll have access to truly meaningful data and the power to make your marketing dollars work better for your store.
What does this mean for you?
- Make marketing and sales decisions backed by data that you can trust
- Track one-time orders, first-time payments, and recurring transactions
- Accurate marketing attribution data for one-time and subscription orders
- Measure LTV by product, channel, or source
- Track multiple checkout funnels with 100% accuracy
- Get the full picture of your customers’ journey with tracking at every touchpoint
- Complete tracking for headless setups
Tip: Follow our simple guide to start tracking Ordergroove subscriptions in Google Analytics.
Tracking subscriptions in other reporting tools
While Google Analytics may be the most commonly used reporting tool, it's far from the only one on the market. The tools below are also widely popular for analytics tracking:
- Google Data Studio
- Power BI
The good news? Littledata's plug-and-play solution integrates automatically with these tools as well.
Segment’s data pipeline lets you collect, clean, push and pull customer data from one platform into dozens of others without the difficult engineering. Then you can utilize different connections, protocols, and personas (or single-user views) to analyze that data.
Littledata's source for Shopify and Shopify Plus enables you to automatically send ecommerce events into any of Segment’s hundreds of destinations. Once you've set it up you'll be able to capture metrics from every customer touchpoint and attribute results from your Facebook and Google Ads spend with 100% accuracy thanks to our server-side tracking.
Headless tracking for subscription stores
Headless commerce doesn’t have to come at the cost of missing data. Whether your site uses a collection of headless landing pages or a full headless architecture implementation, Littledata's Shopify to Google Analytics connection is compatible with headless setups to capture Enhanced Ecommerce events and ensure a complete data match between Shopify and Google Analytics.
What metrics are the most important for subscription stores?
Analytics really matters when it comes to subscription ecommerce, which is why identifying key metrics is that much more important.
The three most important metrics, which indicate your store’s performance, growth, and longevity are:
- Average order value (AOV)
- Customer lifetime value (LTV)
These metrics will guide your sales and marketing decisions and ultimately determine the fate of your store.
Average Order Value
AOV — the average amount spent by customers when they place an order — measures sales trends and reflects customer behavior and buying preferences. This can be one of the trickiest metrics to increase. Boosting AOV is a priority goal for ecommerce teams as it directly impacts profits (and customer lifetime value).
Order value can be maximized with upsells and cross-sells, but there’s a fine line between encouraging and annoying your customers. Ecommerce tools like CartHook and subscription apps like ReCharge specialize in incorporating unobtrusive upselling into your customers’ buying experience, providing an easy solution to one of our customers’ biggest feats.
Tip: Find out if your AOV is in good shape: benchmark your ecommerce store against thousands of other brands in your sector.
Tip: Find out if your AOV is in good shape: benchmark your ecommerce store against thousands of other brands in your sector.
Customer Lifetime Value
LTV is considered a “universal indicator;” it’s a comprehensive metric that encompasses the overall health of your subscription store. LTV is the best indicator of churn, best projector of profit, and best aid in decision making.
When it comes to marketing and sales decisions, LTV helps you easily identify which products and channels are your top performers and bring you your most valuable customers.
For subscription stores especially, Shopify stores live and die by churn — the rate at which subscribers stop subscribing to your store. Churn is the flip side of your retention rate, revealing how many customers shopped with you and didn't return.
Your churn rate is a critical indicator of the health of your subscription business, reflecting its overall viability in the long run.
Where to see the data
Data is everywhere. But at Littledata, we believe that you should have full ownership of your own ecommerce data. Unlike reporting tools that focus on external data storage or complicated interfaces, Littledata automatically audits your setup, fixes your tracking, and leaves it where it should be: with you.
From discovery at the source to events throughout their shopping experience — our combined server-side and client-side tracking captures data at every touchpoint and sends that data directly to Google Analytics or Segment.
If you’re using our Google Analytics app for Shopify, you can see that data directly in Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, or your favorite reporting tool that works with GA, like Google Data Studio. If you’re using our Segment app for Shopify, you can send data to hundreds of Segment destinations for analysis or remarketing.
Tip: Read our free guide on how to make data-driven decisions for Shopify plus stores and grow your store with better metrics.
Apps to fuel your ecommerce subscriptions
Both Shopify and BigCommerce have a wide array of plug-and-play subscription apps that make it easy to boost your store’s performance; Littledata has built connections with the top subscription services in ecommerce to equip your team with the tools needed to make data-driven decisions.
ReCharge is a leading subscription management app, designed to let your store offer subscriptions with a few clicks. Since 2014, merchants of all sizes have used ReCharge’s billing and payment solutions to grow their business by increasing customer lifetime value and reducing customer churn.
ReCharge has helped to power the growth of industry-leading brands like Wild and Grind through their revenue-boosting tools like upsells, SMS and email notifications, and actionable subscription insights.
Check out our interview with Teddy Robinson, CMO and Creative Director of Grind, and find out how they harnessed accurate data to grow their monthly subscriptions by 50x in just three months.
Bold Subscriptions helps merchants to generate predictable recurring revenue and build customer loyalty with a customizable subscription program that’s unique to your business.
The app is compatible with multiple ecommerce platforms, integrates with over a dozen payment gateways, and allows merchants to craft any subscription program with API customization. Bold Subscriptions is widely used across ecommerce platforms by brands like Wulf’s Fish and Staples Canada.
Ordergroove is a recurring billing solution that helps merchants maximize subscriber enrollment, grow their AOV, and boost customer retention. Ordergroove allows customers to create a personalized subscriber experience through promotions, rewards programs, and more.
Smartrr’s subscription ecommerce app is designed for Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants to offer personalized subscriptions to their customer base, allowing subscribers to manage their recurring orders, providing gifting options, and offering upsell add-ons and product swaps that increase customer satisfaction.
Their no-code approach makes it easy for early-stage ecommerce stores — like Misfits Market and Sanzo — to hit the ground running with subscriptions.
PayWhirl provides powerful widgets & tools to manage your recurring billing. Paywhirl helps ecommerce stores sell subscriptions, pre-orders, payment plans, and more.
Rebillia makes subscription easy by giving customers the option to save payment information for future purchases, subscribe to their favorite products or services, and send powerful, automatic recommendation emails according to purchase history. Rebillia empowers major brands like Charmin and Gillette to sell by subscription.
Should you use Google Tag Manager (GTM)?
This depends primarily on the marketing tags that you plan to use and the sources you want to collect data from.
If you're looking for an automated solution, Littledata's connections can easily replace GTM tags for Google Analytics and Google Ads through server-side tracking. Littledata takes care of tracking for other data destinations like email marketing tools and CRMs as well.
But, if you plan to use other marketing tags (like TikTok, Pinterest, or Twitter) then you will need to set them up using GTM. For this solution, Littledata offers a plus plan that includes a full GTM setup to make sure you have accurate tracking.
So what's next?
The rise in subscription ecommerce is just heating up; what better time than now to launch your subscription store? From subscription management to analytics and more — there are tons of apps across Shopify and BigCommerce to help you scale your business.
Take the first step towards making data-backed decisions with your 30-day free trial with Littledata.