6 Tips to Navigate Cancellations in a Subscription Box Business

blog resources Dec 20, 2020


Have you dealt with subscriber cancellations? They can really be discouraging, and December and January are some of my hardest months. It's important not to let cancellations get you down. I want to share some tips I have to help you navigate them in your subscription box business.

* This post contains affiliate/referral links. I could make a commission at no charge to you if you purchase my recommended products.  Please read my disclosure and privacy policy HERE. 


Navigating Subscription Box Cancellations


1) You Are Always Going To Have Cancellations

Write it down somewhere, so you don't forget it... You will always have cancellations.



It's the nature of our business. We run a subscription service, and we work hard to keep gaining new subscribers, but cancellations are sadly just part of it. No one is immune.


2) Know Your Subscriber Numbers

This is probably the most important thing to remember... Track your subscriber numbers and retention rate! 

I know that it feels heavy to have an increase in cancellations, but the truth is in the metrics. 

Track your current subscribers, growth, and cancellations each month. I don't care if you have 10 subscribers or 300, you need to start calculating today.

What these numbers will do is help you look at the bigger picture. 

Let's say you lost 5 subscribers. It's the most you have ever lost, and you start to panic. What if I said that you still had a 95% retention rate. That doesn't sound as bad... because it's actually really good!



I have a resource inside Launch Your Box, by subscription business coaching membership, that I want to share with everyone. My Retention Rate Calculator will help calculate your subscriber numbers and help you track any patterns. It's a simple excel spreadsheet you can grab HERE.

Here are a few factors to remember when looking at your subscription box business metrics:

95-100% retention - Amazing! This is really really good. Keep up the good work.

90-95% retention - Very Good. You are doing awesome. Anything in this top 10% is fantastic, you aren't doing anything wrong and you don't have to change anything. 

80-90% retention - You are doing well. This is the subscription box industry's average retention rate. Could you do better?.. sure, you always want to strive for that 90% and above. 

Below 80% - If you are experiencing a retention rate below 80%, you either have a minimal subscriber count, which will skew your numbers, or something else is disconnected. 

Things like your messaging could need some tweaking, or expectations of what you've set VS what subscribers are receiving could be off. 

Knowing your numbers takes the feelings out of it and lets you focus attention where it is needed. 


3) Have Someone Else Handle The Cancellations

Once you are able to, get a VA or your customer service rep to help you take care of all the cancellations.  

Every time I would open my email and see the cancellations, I would get all those feelings about what I was doing wrong. All those things that we tell ourselves that are not true at all. 



Now that I handed over the responsibility, I feel better. I know that the cancellations are there, but it's not in my face all the time dragging me down. I am able to focus on showing up, being excited, and connecting with my audience without that in the back of my mind.


Try not to focus on each cancellation individually because it can affect us mentally. 


If you don't have an assistant yet, look to your percentages, not each and every cancellation. 

I went and looked at my subscription box cancellations for the month... I normally don't do that because I know that even with everything I am telling you to do, it can still get me down. I had 68 cancellations this month... 68!

If I were to process those individually, I would be sitting and eating a tub of ice cream in bed, wondering where I went wrong.

But I took my numbers, plugged them into my spreadsheet, and my subscriber retention rate is 96%! I am doing just fine! I can't let myself worry about those 68 cancellations. 


4) They Will Come Back

Statistically, December and January will be your highest months for subscription box cancellations. 

People have overspent for the season, and they are trying to pull back and cut some costs. Then, in January, everyone has a New Years' resolution and is budgeting for the year. Because what we offer tends to be a want and not a need, subscriptions typically get the ax.

Don't let that affect you. I have seen that about 75% of people who cancel, at any point, will come back. Most of the time, they have canceled for financial reasons, and that just isn't something that we can help.

Remember, how you treat those who cancel matters! Let them know that you understand, give them grace, and let them know they are welcome back anytime. Make sure they feel like the door is open for them to subscribe again.


5) Build Your Waitlist

I talk about this all the time, but that's because it is super important to have and put effort into growing your waitlist. 

Building that waitlist ensures that you have a list of people to pull from when you have empty slots to fill. I have 68 openings for January now, and I can email my waitlist and fill most of those in time.



Every time you are talking about your subscription, even if you have a closed subscription and are sold out, make sure you give your audience the opportunity to let you know they are interested by offering your waitlist.

You want to continually build your waitlist so that you are more likely to fill your cancellations from month to month. 


6) Set-up a Cancellation Form.

When my subscribers are looking to cancel, they can do so themselves by submitting a cancellation form, but I can also gather information to help my subscription box business.

After logging into their account, my subscribers can find our cancellation page. I include a sneak peek for our next subscriptions with a short quip to entice them to stay. Then, the cancellation policy and instructions, followed by a form with a request for feedback to let us know why they are canceling.



When subscribers can tell you why they are canceling, it takes the assumption away. We will automatically assume they hate our box, but most of the time, they are canceling for reasons out of our hands.

Sure sometimes someone will tell you they don't enjoy your product. Again, that is why I don't process these anymore because I can't handle it... But you can't please everyone. 



There is no getting around it. We are going to have subscription box cancellations. It's just a part of what we do. They will always be there, so it's best to learn to expect them. 

  • Start collecting your data now! Use the Retention Rate Calculator each month to determine your growth, retention, and churn rates.
  • Get someone else to handle the cancellations so you can save your mental capacity.
  • There is a good chance subscribers will come back. Treat them as if they are just leaving for a moment and fill them with kindness.
  • Every time you post, share, sneak peek, go Live... mention your waitlist so that you always have a pool to go to so that you can refill those vacancies. 
  • Create a cancellation form to collect feedback.

These are my tips to get through subscription box cancellations. They are just going to happen. We are in this together! 





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