Sky Pilot
Digital Commerce

New Sky Pilot update unlocks digital downloads for subscription brands

An update to Shop Circle’s popular digital downloads app allows merchants and brands to sell digital items to subscribers.

3 Minutes, 36 Seconds

Growing a successful brand in a competitive market has inspired many merchants to extend their product offerings and focus on meaningful strategies to give customers what they want, when they want it.

Bringing digital downloads to their online store is one such area that has empowered brands to invigorate their product lineup and maintain strong relationships with customers.

Brands can also establish a subscription service that enables simple access to product lines at any given time, unlocking revenue streams and further cementing the bond between customer and brand. Today Shop Circle is excited to announce a marriage between digital downloads and subscription offerings.

Enter Sky Pilot and its latest update, which enables Shopify stores using subscription apps to strengthen their relationships with members who may want to download the store’s digital files.

Brands don’t have a reliable way of offering members access to specific digital content, and brands can also find it challenging to notify customers to new content available to download. That’s why Shop Circle decided to update Sky Pilot so it can can now integrate with subscriptions apps on Shopify, says Camilla Giovannini, Senior Product Manager at Shop Circle.

When paired with a subscription app on Shopify, Sky Pilot users can also define which customers have access to which digital content, and ensure access is removed when customers are no longer subscribers.

Giovannini adds this update “opens up a new revenue stream for merchants and brands, and allows them to respond to customer needs.”

What this update also empowers is a higher retention rate for Shopify merchants and brands seeking to retain members who subscribe to their offerings. And, to date, there is no other digital downloads app integrating with subscription software in this way.

What you need to know about Sky Pilot

First, a quick step back. Sky Pilot gives Shopify stores the ability to offer digital delivery with the look and feel of the brand, and then lets customers download PDFs, images, music files, videos, e-books, and much more.

For example, an online beauty brand can offer subscribers digital downloads such as videos of tutorials on applying their products. Or a Shopify store offering digital guitar lessons can supercharge their average order value (AOV) by placing in the digital downloads area content such as music sheet PDFs or master-class videos of well-known guitarists teaching certain songs or chords. 

A common question asked by online merchants and brands is why they should sell digital products vs physical goods? The answers are varied:

  • Low overhead costs. Shopify stores don’t need to hold inventory or face any shipping charges.
  • High profit margins. With no physical goods requiring shipping or storage fees, there’s potential for higher profit margins with downloadable content. 
  • Potential to automate. Orders can be delivered instantly, allowing merchants and brands to be relatively hands-off with fulfillment.
  • Flexible products. The range of products are only limited by the imagination. Online stores have a lot of options as to how to incorporate digital products into their offering.
  • Easier for customers to attain. Some customers aren’t interested in stocking up on more physical goods, but they may not have an issue with filling their hard drive with applicable files they can return to again and again. Also, digital files don’t physically degrade or can get lost/damaged. 

Merchants and brands using Sky Pilot can decide if they want to monetize their digital downloads or offer them free. 

Sky Pilot users have at their fingertips a reliable—at volume—app that keeps all actions “in house” within the Shopify platform, and creates detailed analytics reports on how successful various downloads have been over time. Sky Pilot also lowers the amount of time online sellers spend on customer service thanks to the hands-off format of the app: customers access files automatically without any manual labor on the merchant or brand side. 

Security-savvy merchants will enjoy this integration between Sky Pilot and Shopify's fraud analysis tool.

To date, more than 5,000 online stores worldwide are leveraging Sky Pilot’s technology to let them offer customers a seamless way to download digital files.

Why a digital downloads and subscriptions union just makes sense

Retention is always top-of-mind for successful Shopify merchants and brands. If they can offer a memorable shopping experience, then retention rates can skyrocket. In fact, 91% of customers would consider another purchase with a merchant after positive customer service.

Giovannini cites a well-known example of how brands can further nourish their customer relationships: Imagine a meal-kit merchant that offers subscriptions to their physical boxes, full of ingredients to make specific meals. “That business might have a digital video with recipes on how to cook what’s in that box, and that video is only available to subscribers” she says.

Check out Video marketing meets digital delivery.

Many online stores in the subscriptions space are successful due to fostering meaningful long-term relationships with customers that go beyond one-off purchases. In turn, those customers often become brand advocates due to how attractive a subscription may be to them. Using the meal-kit example again, did you hear about those subscription plans through friends and family rather than via online or offline ads? 

When word-of-mouth clout is paired with a robust technology such as Sky Pilot, it’s a win-win for both the customer, and the brand.

The Sky Pilot update for Shopify stores using subscription apps on Shopify is available now. 

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