A millennial's dream - Free trials on all your favorite subscriptions

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Overview

Sam's Club is one of the largest retail warehouse clubs in the United States with a highly diverse consumer base. In recent years, it has been pushing for an online-first shopping experience. Providing exclusive offers, items, and experiences available only with a Sam's Club membership is key to attracting, retaining, and renewing our members.
 
Since 2019's final quarter, I've been working on - and, eventually leading - the user experience to add popular subscriptions with free trials on Sam's Club's digital e-commerce platforms.
UX ROLE
END-TO-END SENIOR PRODUCT DESIGNER WORKING WITH A LEAD DESIGNER AND CONTENT DESIGNER
MISSION
PROVIDE SUBSCRIPTIONS WITH FREE TRIALS AT A DISCOUNTED PRICES TO ALL SAM'S CLUB MEMBERS
TIMELINE
OCT 2019 - PRESENT

Existing product and issues

Subscriptions as a product were a recent addition to Sam's Club's cohort of digital products. Any Sam's Club member with a Club (basic) or Plus (premium) membership can get popular subscription services at reduced, 'members-only' pricing.

Member can add the subscription as an item to their cart, check out and manage the subscription on their account - a unique solution in the e-commerce space!

However, none of the subscriptions had a free trial. Most potential partners had free trials and product feedback indicated that members wanted to 'try before they buy'.

Current experience

Competitive analysis

While we had the existing experience to work off of, it was critical that we effectively message and communicate the specifications of the free trial, the subscription's benefits, pricing models, limited-time offers and more, to prospective customers

Hence, we analyzed popular subscriptions with a free trial. Some key players included Hulu, HBO Max, Spotify, and Amazon Prime.

We found that most subscriptions highlight the free trial time period first, followed by the monthly or annual price that's charged after the free trial expires.

Hulu

A new user is immediately drawn to the free trial highlighted on the landing page's POV. 'Try up to one month free' specifies the trial length. Users can also see the plans that come up with a free trial. 'Get first month free, then $5.99/month' focuses on the free trial, and the price of the plan post-free trial expiring.
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Spotify and Apple Music

Spotify and Apple Music both have a single plan with a three month free trial. While Spotify emphasizes the free trial time period, Apple Music additionally calls out the monthly price after the free trial expires.
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Design decisions

While Showtime was one of our first subscription partners with a free trial, the design team emphasized the need for an experience and content framework that could be scaled for any subscription with a free trial.

As the product and content teams explored solutions, we kept these considerations in mind, based on the current purchase flow and market research insights.

1

FREE TRIAL PERIOD should be immediately clear to the member

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2

MONTHLY OR ANNUAL PRICE should be shown after free trial time period

3

CONSISTENT MESSAGING will need to be shown across the purchase flow

01.

The same string should be shown below the line-item price in cart and in the subscribe section below the item in checkout

02.

'Until you cancel' should always be appended at the end

03.

  • PLP and PDP: Try (plan type) free for XX days
  • Cart and checkout: After your free trial ends, you'll be charged ($XX.XX/mo or $XX.XX/yr) (condition) until you cancel
Content framework
Explorations - Product list and details pages 
✅ Option 1 - Add 'Try free for XX days' as messaging in the product card (list page) and in the promotional slot (details page)
Mobile Web Subscriptions
Web Subscriptions
Mobile Web Subscriptions
Web Subscriptions
⭐️ Option 2 - Add 'Try free for XX days' as a flag in both pages
Mobile Web Subscriptions
Web Subscriptions
Mobile Web Subscriptions
Web Subscriptions
Option 3 - Add 'Try free for XX days' as the call-to-action in both pages
Mobile Web Subscriptions
Web Subscriptions
Mobile Web Subscriptions
Web Subscriptions
While option 2 was preferred from a user experience perspective, option 1 was chosen as the preferred solution by the product team as it was more scalable and in line with the current purchase flow for subscriptions.
Explorations - Cart and Checkout
Option 1 - Free trial is automatically applied as an optional sub-item at cart and checkout
Mobile Web - Subscriptions
Web - Subscriptions
Mobile Web Subscriptions
Web Subscriptions
⭐️ Option 2 - Free trial is automatically applied at cart and checkout at item-level
Mobile Web Subscriptions
Web Subscriptions
Mobile Web Subscriptions
Web Subscriptions
⭐️ ✅ Option 3 - Free trial is automatically applied at cart and checkout at item-level as a promotional offer
Mobile Web Subscriptions
Web Subscriptions
Mobile Web Subscriptions
Web Subscriptions
Options 2 and 3 were equally preferred from an experience standpoint. Option 3 was easier to implement, given MVP timelines.

MVP Designs

In addition to the purchase flow, the free trial content framework was included on existing email communications and in the user's subscription settings for MVP. This was done to ensure that members were aware of the free trial across various touchpoints.
By adding a floating action button (a novel concept for iOS!), the creation process became more intuitive and smooth. Simple, jargon-free help text aided the process.

Navigate easily to your free trials

By adding a free trial subcategory within the subscription category page, members can easily see which subscriptions come with a free trial

More details? No problem

Free trial specifications are shown on the product card and the product details page. Additional member-specific offers are shown in the promotional slots as well.
By adding a floating action button (a novel concept for iOS!), the creation process became more intuitive and smooth. Simple, jargon-free help text aided the process.
By adding a floating action button (a novel concept for iOS!), the creation process became more intuitive and smooth. Simple, jargon-free help text aided the process.

It's free here, there, everywhere!

Consistent messaging to inform members that the free trial is applied, the length of the free trial, and the charges after it ends are carried throughout the purchase flow. 

Manage your free trial whenever you want

After you purchase a subscription with a free trial, we send out an email that gives you details about your subscription's free trial. You can manage, cancel, upgrade or downgrade your subscription from your account settings on Sam's Club as well.
By adding a floating action button (a novel concept for iOS!), the creation process became more intuitive and smooth. Simple, jargon-free help text aided the process.

Feature release and success metrics 

The free trial MVP experience was released in the first quarter of 2021 and it's been a highly successful feature. We found that members subscribe more to subscriptions with a free trial than subscriptions without.

With the addition of Showtime and its free trial to our cohort, we increased subscription revenue by 120%. 54% of our active subscriptions are Showtime. Members bought subscriptions at an average of 70.4/day, compared to 8.7/day before the MVP.

Next steps

With the great success of free trial subscriptions, particularly Showtime, the immediate next steps were to get well-known subscription partners with free trials. Additionally, we're considering simplifying the process of getting a subscription by eliminating the purchase flow and allowing the member to simply 'activate' the subscriptions they want.