Q&A with Ally Shapiro – Subscriptions to Solve a Problem in Retention

We spoke with Jill & Ally’s founder to learn more about how subscriptions can help the brand attract customers to purchase again.

Jill Zarin and Ally Shapiro, Real Housewives of New York City star Jill Zarin, first launched their brand Jill & Ally . It was focused on selling masks during pandemic. They had to pivot as the demand for masks declined and they had to find a way to get customers to purchase again and again.

Judith Zhu, founder of Jill & Ally and CMO of Yotpo Subscriptions sat down to discuss the transition from candles to masks and how subscriptions have filled a gap in retention.

Judith: Thank you for being here Ally! Perhaps you could start by sharing a bit about your brand. It was a very interesting time to launch your brand.

Ally Shapiro My name, Ally, is from Jill & Ally and my mother is the Jill. My mom was on the Housewives of New York. Since then, she has been with a lot of brands. But, we never worked together until the pandemic.

After being laid off my job, we were offered the chance to sell face masks. I literally took orders from an Instagram doc and was stamping envelopes. I was sending them all across the country. We thought we could just upload it to Shopify.

We had one SKU. It was five masks for $100. You get any color tie dye mask that you want. It exploded. TJ Maxx was our first customer. We used our wholesale accounts to maximize our minimums and built the Jill & Ally name.

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It evolved from there, and candles became our next big adventure. Because it was very similar in design to masks, it was unisex and one size fits all. There were no returns. This is where Jill & Ally started.

The pandemic has had a wild two years in eCommerce. 2022 is still a very uncertain year. So, I was curious to find out what your challenges were so far.

Ally It’s funny because we were completely different from most brands. We started out as a brand for masks, but masks are almost dead. We had to find something new, so we switched to candles.

 

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Retaining customers is one of our greatest challenges. With masks, they would come back once, twice or ten times per year. Now, they are done with us. It was difficult to convince them to stay with our company. Because of the number of times people reordered masks, we needed a subscription company. We are so lucky to have Yotpo for candles.

How did you make the decision to start adding subscriptions to your candle business, and how have you found that it has helped you in your quest to create a candle company?

Ally We were looking for a way to highlight our amazing reviews and we found Yotpo. We first used Yotpo to review, then we added loyalty programs for repeat buyers. To be completely honest, when I first heard about loyalty, I was thinking of subscriptions. We wanted a club for mask of the month.

Our web development team was the first to think of subscriptions. However, the options available at the time were too costly and time-consuming. We thought masks could be completed in one week or one month.

Yotpo was born with subscriptions and masks. But candles are really starting to take off. We are now relying on Yotpo for ideas about how to target existing customers and get them in the club.

Our candles are more than a regular candle. All of our candles come with crystals. You might not care as much about the scent but more about collecting the crystals. We’re hoping to grow our subscription business by getting more crystals and candles.

You have the candle club right now, which is getting many wonderful reviews. You also offer a surprise perk with every month’s subscription. Could you please tell us more about the candle club.

Ally Yotpo actually created the subscriptions program faster than we expected. It kind of beat us to it in terms of how can we make the subscription program so incredible. Instead, we just said, “Let’s just do this, and see what happens. See who signs up.” Now we are kind of going backwards, and we are like: Okay, now that it is live, how do we leverage it to create this candle club.

 

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As we acquire more scents and stones over the next few months we might coordinate it to the seasons. Lit is the new club candle initiative. Every box contains a matchbox. It comes in beautiful packaging, but we are all self-funded. We don’t have any funding. This makes it difficult for us to invest in packaging, especially when logistics and lead times are so long.

We know subscriptions work and it’s a long-term investment. Perhaps we can now invest in packaging and creating a beautiful box. Who knows? We are excited to see the results.

It is amazing how flexible your subscriptions experience has been. You can try out new products and add new lines. People often assume subscriptions are only for perishable consumables. But this is a wonderful example of how a lifestyle brand can turn it into a truly amazing club. It would be interesting to hear your responses.

Ally Great reviews. We should create ads about this subscription program using reviews. The reviews have been great and people are excited to get the stone and scent every month. Because you don’t know what your getting, it’s more surprising. We may make the experience more planned as time goes on. Although each month may have a particular scent, I think people enjoy the surprise element.

We don’t have any samples because we are a small business. However, we do have the matchbox. We’ll look into other rewards and adding to the program to thank our customers for their loyalty.

Everyone wants to know the next step for Jill & Ally. What’s next for Jill & Ally?

Ally We have just launched beauty tools and a line of bags on our website. There are also many more candles. Another 30 candles will be released this year. It’s based on the feedback from our customers. Our subscribers will feel more motivated to stay in the program. We hope that this helps us gain more subscribers.

source https://www.yotpo.com/blog/interview-with-ally-shapiro-subscriptions/

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