In the dynamic world of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, subscriptions have emerged as a powerful tool for fostering customer loyalty and securing recurring revenue. A staggering 75% of DTC brands are planning to offer subscriptions this year, reflecting the growing recognition of their potential. At the forefront of this trend is Smartrr, a trailblazing Shopify subscription app that has raised over $17 million to revolutionize the DTC brand experience.
As we approach the first anniversary of Smartrr’s public launch on the Shopify app store, it’s clear that the company has made significant strides in reshaping the post-purchase and customer retention landscape. Under the leadership of its Co-Founder and CEO, Gabriella Tegen, Smartrr has introduced a suite of features designed to maximize the lifetime value of customers. These include customizable subscription options, loyalty and referral programs, and the ability to create custom bundles.
Smartrr’s innovative approach has already yielded impressive results for high-growth brands like Jolie, Slate Milk, and Unbloat, which have seen their subscription revenue double within the first 60 days of using the app. Moreover, these brands have also experienced a twofold increase in average order value (AOV) and a fivefold growth in subscriber volume.
Yet, Smartrr’s influence extends beyond its immediate clientele. The company’s pioneering work has set new standards in the industry, prompting legacy subscription software providers like Recharge to follow suit. Recharge’s recent software update, which includes an affinity program and the introduction of bundles and rewards, bears a striking resemblance to the functionalities offered by Smartrr since its inception.
In this exclusive interview, we sit down with Gabriella Tegen, to delve deeper into Smartrr‘s journey, its groundbreaking technology, and the future of DTC subscriptions. Stay tuned as we uncover the story behind one of the most disruptive forces in the DTC space.
1. Congratulations on your rapid growth and success within just one year of being live on Shopify. Can you share with us the key factors that contributed to Smartrr’s impressive achievements in such a short period?
Thank you! To say it has been an exciting ride thus far would be a major understatement. There have been a number of factors that have led us to this point today. While we recently celebrated our 1 year anniversary on the Shopify App store, we were in stealth mode for a year prior. This was absolutely key.
During that time, we conducted a significant amount of market research and we’re so incredibly lucky to build, test, and launch our products with the most impressive initial cohort of customers. We truly wouldn’t be here, let alone with the success we’ve seen, without those early clients. They acted as true partners – sharing their goals, visions for subscriptions, and most admirable of all, their vulnerabilities! The level of open communication they provided was crucial in building a solution-oriented product that pushes the boundaries of what the ideal subscription program looks like and how it can truly provide value to Shopify brands.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the Smartrr team as a key factor. Watching this team grow from a handful of us in a small co-working space to 50+ employees and a thriving NYC headquarters has been one of the most rewarding experiences of this journey. Not only do we have a well-resourced team, but the individuals that make up the team are second to none. It takes a special mix of adaptability, work ethic, perseverance, and quite frankly a sense of humor to get here. And we have it.
Lastly, when compared to the Shopify subscription space, we wanted to take an entirely different approach. Where other apps focused on recurring billing, we focused on the end consumer. We promised our merchants and ourselves that we would never lose sight of the end customer’s experience. This guiding light has helped keep us in a state of constant innovation and differentiation.
2. How has Smartrr managed to revolutionize the DTC brand experience, and what sets your platform apart from other subscription apps like Recharge?
Allow me to kick this question off with the respect I have for Recharge. They did a fantastic job being a first mover in the subscription space and solidifying the category. Ultimately, we believe there is room for both the existing and new players, given how massive the opportunity is.
That said, we have taken a fundamentally different approach than any subscription app, in order to redefine and revolutionize the DTC brand experience. Subscription apps in the Shopify space focused primarily on subscription billing, not what happens before, or after the charge goes through. We operate under the principle that subscription billing is table stakes and that the true opportunity with subscriptions is to optimize the most loyal customers you, as a brand, will ever have: subscribers. A flexible subscription program and superior customer experience are the core pillars to Smartrr’s approach to market.
3. With high-growth brands like Jolie, Slate Milk, and Unbloat experiencing remarkable results using Smartrr, can you provide some insights into the strategies and features that have helped these brands achieve such success?
Great question! Because the brands you mentioned are all extremely successful for very different reasons.
Jolie is a filtered showerhead marketed as step zero in your beauty and wellness routine. Their go to market strategy is nothing short of brilliant. When you think of a showerhead, you don’t instantly think of subscriptions. However, Ryan and Arjan over at Jolie leveraged Smartrr’s out-of-the-box sequential subscription program to offer the showerhead as a one-time purchase that then triggers a filter subscription every 90 days! With this model, Jolie has seen some of the lowest churn metrics across the industry.
Meanwhile, Slate Milk — a protein drink brand — has a variety bundle as their core subscription offering. Their subscribers are able to choose from cans vs mixes, the flavors they’d like, the quantity in the pack, and how often they receive their subscription. Granting the ultimate autonomy to their end consumer has truly paid off, as Slate Milk has seen over a 21% increase in AOV in a short amount of time.
Lastly, Unbloat, the daily gut cleanse capsule, has been successful in using Smartrr to retain customers longer and optimize their program. The Unbloat team implemented Smartrr’s cancellation survey feature to identify why anyone would want to opt out of the subscription offering. In doing so, the brand has saved over 40% of unsubscribes because they could accurately educate their consumers on the ways to manage their subscriptions. So instead of canceling, customers were incentivized to skip or gift their next order — and the results speak for themselves.
This is exactly what we mean by tailoring your subscription program to your brand and customer base. Whether it be a sequential subscription model, bundles, or cancellation surveys, Smartrr’s sophisticated feature set allows for the optimal customer experience and, in return, the strongest subscription approach for your business.
4. Customer retention and post-purchase experience are crucial for DTC brands. How does Smartrr’s wide range of features, such as customizable subscription options, loyalty and referral programs, and custom bundles, contribute to enhancing the lifetime value of customers?
On average, brands using Smartrr see 5X more revenue over a subscriber’s lifetime. With a range of LTV-boosting tools, we ensure every touchpoint throughout the post-purchase journey is designed to deepen the customer journey. To answer your question directly: how do these features help brands see results like this? It’s simple. More engagement.
When a subscriber goes into their customer account portal to manage their subscription, give them a reason to stay and further engage with your brand, incentivize them to try new products, reward them with exclusive perks, educate them on upcoming trends.
The more engaged the subscriber, the more loyal they will become until ultimately they become full-on champions of your brand. With this approach, you’ll find yourself building a sense of community and a brand name one loyal customer at a time.
5. As Smartrr continues to innovate and lead the way in the subscription app space, what are your plans for future developments and improvements to further support DTC brands and their growth?
Great question! We have successfully introduced a DTC post-purchase experience that never existed before. Smartrr will continue to pave the way with innovative features that encourage more repeat purchases, more engagement, and more retention — all in the name of building the customer experience that powers the household brands of tomorrow.
6. Lastly, as Smartrr approaches its one-year anniversary on the Shopify app store, what are your reflections on the journey so far, and what are your aspirations for the future of Smartrr and the DTC brands you serve?
As I reflect on past lessons, one principle we remain disciplined on is don’t get distracted by shiny objects. As a growing business, it’s so important to stay true to who you are and who you want to become. We made a promise to our merchants that we would build Smartrr with the end consumer in mind. This north star has never led us astray, and we will continue to build the best post-purchase experience the Shopify ecosystem has to offer.