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Pop business for the intelligent reader. A publication from Medium.


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It seems like everyone’s starting a subscription business. Companies have been selling everything from coffee to Coca-Cola to Xboxes via subscription, and now even Shopify is getting in on the action. Yesterday, the Canadian e-commerce platform announced it would be rolling out new features to let Shopify merchants charge their customers on an ongoing basis for recurring services.

As David H. Freedman wrote in Marker, Shopify has been a lifeline for many Main Street businesses that had to pivot overnight to e-commerce during the pandemic. And now they’ll presumably be able to get some of that sweet, sweet recurring revenue…

What to keep in mind before setting a price for a recurring revenue bundle

Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

Last week, Apple announced Apple One, a new subscription service that will bundle its various existing digital subscriptions in three price tiers ranging from $14.95 to $29.95 a month. Microsoft, meanwhile, rolled out a subscription offering for its new Xbox consoles, allowing gamers to pay a monthly fee of $24.99 or $34.99 for a console and access to its Ultimate Game Pass rather than pay the $299.99 or $499.99 to own the console outright.

Right now there’s an explosion of products pivoting to subscription services, but pricing them requires just as much art as science. …

In the past six months, we’ve seen all manner of companies offering monthly subscriptions — from coffee to cars — and now we can add gaming consoles to the list. “Getting the average customer to pay $35 and immediately get an Xbox is dramatically easier than trying to convince them to drop hundreds of dollars up front because it feels cheaper, and most people won’t do the math before signing up,” writes Owen Williams in Debugger. What’s next? Don’t be surprised when you have to start subscribing to your thermostat, he says.

Apple made the splashy announcement yesterday that it would be launching an Apple One bundle this fall, giving customers the option to combine its various streaming services, including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and its soon-to-be-released Apple Fitness service.

Bundling is the marketing tool du jour that’s actually been around for years, used to sell everything from health insurance to cable TV to McDonald’s Happy Meals. But the bundling of digital products, which cost nothing to distribute, supercharges the value that it creates for both bundle providers and consumers. …

Number of the Day

With office corridors vacant, the lunchtime chain hops on the subscription train

# of the Day: $9.99 — That’s the monthly cost of an unlimited “Coffee Pass” subscription from U.S. Pret A Manger locations.
# of the Day: $9.99 — That’s the monthly cost of an unlimited “Coffee Pass” subscription from U.S. Pret A Manger locations.
Photo illustration, source: Mike Kenneally/Unsplash

$9.99: That’s the cost of a monthly “Classic Coffee Pass” subscription from Pret A Manger at its 72 U.S. locations.

As urban corridors become ghost towns, lunchtime retailers are becoming increasingly creative. The British fast casual chain’s new pass gets you “unlimited” coffee, ice coffee, or tea (or you can upgrade for $19.99 a month for posher espresso variations). The concept, a company executive told the Wall Street Journal, emulates Netflix and other subscription entertainment models, whose popularity spiked during lockdown: “That’s really what we want to recreate with our coffee subscription.” Perhaps another less sexy inspiration comes from the…

A former Google exec breaks down the biggest myths about the bundling business model

People in the shape of a pie graph
People in the shape of a pie graph
Image: DigtialStorm/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Amazon Prime. The G Suite. Netflix. Cable TV. Spotify. It may not seem like these services have much in common, but all of them are built on the theory that you can make more money selling a bundle of products rather than offering them individually. Bundling is by no means a new phenomenon—insurance companies and credit cards, for example, have used the model for years—but as the internet has enabled low-cost distribution of digital products on a global scale, bundling has become an increasingly popular business model. Why would anyone pay for a bundle of products they might not enjoy…

Will the coronavirus quarantine boost be a long-term boon for Netflix? Probably not.

The Netflix logo is shown on a smartphone against a backdrop of blurred out Netflix show titles.
The Netflix logo is shown on a smartphone against a backdrop of blurred out Netflix show titles.
Photo: SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

From all outward appearances, things could not be better for Netflix. In the first quarter of 2020, its subscriber numbers grew faster than in any quarter, with nearly 16 million new subscribers, and viewing figures are way up as millions of people are locked in their homes with nothing to do but binge-watch TV or catch up on movies. The streaming service scored high ratings and massive social media attention with docuseries Tiger King (64 million household views) and Love Is Blind (30 million views). …

Companies that adopt a ‘membership mindset’ are best-positioned to survive this downturn

Photo: Future Publishing/Getty Images

In the last few years, subscriptions have become a ubiquitous part of the consumer landscape, whether it was Apple, Disney, and newcomer Quibi starting streaming services to compete with Netflix, or the wave of clothing and beauty companies that launched to sell people subscription boxes.

Now, the pandemic is testing how resilient the subscription business model really is — and signs look promising. Food subscriptions from Blue Apron — which was barely surviving before the crisis — to artisanal memberships like Cowgirl Creamery’s “Cheese of the Month” club, are suddenly thriving. Subscriptions for news, entertainment, education, and software are dealing…

Off Brand

If Panera thinks it can sell $8.99 subscriptions, who can’t?

Illustration: Fran Caballero

Would you subscribe to a coffee? No, not a monthly box of fancy ground coffee in the mail — although obviously that’s a thing. What about an everyday cup of coffee from a mass-casual chain. Like Panera. Because now that’s a thing, too.

If you “subscribe” to MyPanera+ Coffee, for $8.99 a month, you get unlimited coffee (or tea) at the pervasive sandwich chain. Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary told Business Insider that this subscription experiment may be just the beginning. “We have started the journey off with coffee, but we are going to be watching very carefully what kinds of…

Your goal is love, but what exactly is their goal?

Image: altmodern/Getty Images

I was once the executive assistant to the CEO of a tech conglomerate. One day, my boss came to me with a fun idea: Create a dating app, and make it gain enough traction for the big guns to buy him out.

“Fun way to make a small fortune!” he buoyantly declared. This was my multimillionaire boss’s idea of a side hustle.

In just a few weeks, I hired a team of coders, and off we trampled into the business of love. Since I’m a writer with marketing experience, my boss left the PR to me. I began doing research…


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