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BUBS Naturals: Ditching Recharge for Skio

Adrian Alfieri

Adrian Alfieri

BUBS Naturals is the health and wellness CPG brand helping folks feel great and do good with their collagen protein and MCT oil powder. 10% of profits fund scholarships for U.S. veterans. 

We sat down with TJ Ferrara, Co-Founder of BUBS, to hear why he considers Skio one of the best platforms he’s worked with in over two decades of eCommerce. Discussion topics include: 

  1. How self-service subscriptions can decrease churn
  2. Why Skio feels like a partner, not just a vendor
  3. The value in group discounts and analytics

“Skio staged the smoothest onboarding operation I’ve had in 25 years in eCom. You can tell how much the team cares about their customers. It’s awesome.” 

Phase One: Subscription Pain Points on Recharge

BUBS initially launched subscriptions in 2018 using Bold Commerce because, as TJ recounts, it was simply the easiest plugin they could find at the time.

While the app ran decently well, the team was eventually convinced to migrate to Recharge for the advertised benefits: custom user portals, upsell and downsell settings, and so on. 

They quickly (and unfortunately) found these perks weren’t the reality. 

TJ wound up dealing with Recharge’s faulty tech throughout two Black Fridays and a year of DTC ops during early COVID. He outlines three of those key pain points below. 

1. Limited Flexibility & Access to Features

Despite the major draw of Recharge’s suite of benefits, TJ realized it was essentially, in his words, a walled garden. Users couldn’t access most of these features if they didn’t: 

  • Pay the requisite "egregious" fees
  • Work with Recharge’s list of 30+ preferred vendors
  • Or employ a systems integrator or a robust in-house dev team

Through consulting, TJ heard similar complaints from numerous other brands: Recharge lacks flexibility and customization unless you cough up the extra bucks. 

2. Overwhelming Service Demands

With Recharge, an average of 20–30 users per day (meaning roughly 10% of BUBS’ overall daily volume) reported issues with account access, subscription preference management, etc. 

Both the brand's East and West Coast customer service teams saw a constant influx and volume of user support requests. As TJ remembers it: 

“It seemed like there was nothing we could do to fix the login portal or Shopify account management or purchase histories. There was always something going wrong for users.” 

3. Unreliability of the Tech Itself

Unlike Skio, Recharge does not support native Shopify checkout — meaning every BUBS checkout experience was split with a second, external process on the Recharge platform. 

The final nail in Recharge’s coffin came during Black Friday, the busiest period for DTC eCom across the board, when Recharge’s checkout shut off entirely. 

No new users could subscribe until, after at least ten frantic emails from the BUBS team, Recharge switched back on around midday. 

“Everyone I’ve spoken to has similar complaints: ‘Recharge is just not it.’ It felt like there was always something broken at any given time, all the time.” 

Phase Two: Discovery, Onboarding, and Migration with Skio

TJ discovered Skio in early 2020 through their solution for a unified Shopify checkout — something he’d tried hacking together himself while struggling with Recharge. 

He was also amped to hear Skio is a Y Combinator alum, since he'd already invested in several ambitious, fast-growing YC companies. 

Those two reasons were enough for TJ to say, “I trust these guys. Let’s see what they can do.” 

A Low-Stress Migration — On the Road

It took one week to migrate every BUBS subscriber to Skio. TJ outlines the process for us: 

  1. New Interfaces — The BUBS team built out a new UX for subscriptions
  2. Gradual adoption — Existing subscriptions ran on Recharge; new ones ran on Skio
  3. Validation — They monitored and confirmed Skio’s functional stability across two days
  4. Full migration — The teams uploaded four Recharge exports to Skio's system and double-checked for a successful data transfer — all in 45 minutes on a Thursday

As all of this went down, TJ was actually orchestrating his own move to Tennessee and working entirely from his phone on the road. 

It was a gamble, he admits, but the Skio team held it together seamlessly. 

Immediate Troubleshooting & Support

The morning after the full migration, the teams hit a huge snag: BUBS had accidentally auto-charged users to the tune of about $54,000 in subscriptions. 

TJ describes waking up in total panic — and then watching Skio unwind the issue for him by noon that day, in less than three hours. The Skio team: 

  1. Rapidly refunded every customer
  2. Smoothly communicated with users about the quick fix through Shopify
  3. Handled the subscription blitz on the backend to ensure it wouldn’t happen again

Skio's CEO also jumped in, recalls TJ, to assure the BUBS team that this was a one-off issue they had never seen (and would never see again). 

“It’s unreal how quick Skio is,” says TJ of the experience. “I’d never seen that kind of rapid customer service from any other SaaS company.” 

While most vendors provide some 24-hour support through Zendesk, he commends Skio for immediately assigning bodies to a client emergency at any hour. 

“With Skio, the people who actually built the app fiercely support you. You can raise your hand at any point and have someone toss you a life raft if you need it.” 

Skio Benefit #1: Decreased CS Tickets

Since onboarding with Skio, the BUBS team has seen, in TJ’s words, “a clean wipe of 100% of the account issues leading to customer service lift.” 

He attributes this to the platform’s self-service portal for users, who would have previously had to email user support to reset logins, delay or cancel subscription orders, and so on. 

Following the implementation, BUBS has received a total of zero emails asking for basic logistical support — meaning far less strain on their customer service team. 

“Right out of the gate, Skio solved basically all of our customer service issues.” 

Skio Benefit #2: Lower Churn Rates

With Recharge, TJ remembers, it felt like BUBS frequently saw spikes in churn. 

If anything, he says, “It was almost one to one.” For every subscriber they gained, they lost another, so they often broke even on net monthly subscriptions. 

Meanwhile, after joining Skio, churn rates notably decreased by (so far) roughly 10%. 

TJ attributes this, again, to Skio’s self-service function. Rather than canceling entirely, users can easily delay their next subscription order without ever needing to contact a customer rep. 

"Skio’s self-service function means users can easily delay their next subscription order, not cancel it altogether. Churn has already decreased by about 10%." 

Skio Benefit #3: Proactive Client Support

When it comes to client support, TJ describes the Skio team’s proactiveness, thoughtful client support, and genuine partnership as a rarity in today’s enablement space. 

For instance, a vendor of Klaviyo's size might host, at most, monthly or quarterly webinars led by junior marketing teams who are solely there to keep leads going. 

Meanwhile, the BUBS team has often worked directly with Skio’s engineers. 

In other words, the people who spend all day building the platform you use are also helping you solve issues — because they’re actually invested in your success. This means: 

  • Skio’s response time for support requests is about 15 minutes max
  • Every request goes through direct email — no Zendesk or other routing systems
  • The Skio team suggests high-ROI tactics that they’ve seen throughout their client base

"We’re super happy with Skio’s client support. They respond to requests within 15 minutes max. It’s unreal. They’re a vendor, but this feels like a true partnership." 

Skio Benefit #4: New Feature Deployment

As for the platform itself, TJ highlights three of his favorite Skio features. 

1. Fluid Customer Comms

Skio's customer communications function, in his words, continues to blow him away.

The platform’s pre-populated content and variables are easily adjustable with radio buttons, rather than having to rewrite or reformat from top to bottom, as was the case with Recharge. 

The pre-written messaging is solid, so TJ only made a few changes to the default before BUBS was ready to go. “It was super easy in terms of migrating and setting up our business cases.” 

2. Robust Data Analytics

Skio partners with Source Medium to power subscription analytics. TJ calls the data platform “bananas good” and “a rad company” for two key reasons: 

  1. Speed — While Recharge always lagged by 40–50 seconds while reporting, Skio's quick analytics enable the BUBS team to easily and rapidly spot-check data. 
  2. Depth — Skio pulls many more detailed KPIs and metrics than Recharge would, especially if, like the BUBS team, you hadn’t integrated a BI tool. 

3. Group Discounts

From day one, TJ was ready to push Skio’s group-buy feature. Today, one of these key clients is Street Parking, an online workout program and community with 35,000+ active global members. 

They've been beneficial for both individual and recurring purchases, as members choose to link up for discounts up to 45% on group subscriptions. 

Even more, if someone drops out of a group buy, Skio automatically raises individual pricing — and vice versa if someone new joins. 

"Compared to the unreliability of Recharge, the way Skio smoothly automates complex cases like group subscriptions on their backend is super rad."


Adrian Alfieri

Adrian Alfieri

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trusted by 1029+ brands
Y Combinator
Unilever
Liquid IV
Bulletproof
Milk Bar
Vega
Kos
Kitsch
Barstool Sports
100 Thieves
Everyday Dose
Ghost
True Botanicals
Raw
Ryse
Muddy Bites
Krave Beauty
Wild One
DRMTLGY
From Great Origins
Nue Co
Facetheory
Doe Lashes
Bachans
Siete Foods
Magic Mind
100 Thieves
Bones Coffee
Mila
Bubs Naturals
Kosas
Glamnetic
Insert Name Here
Strong Coffee
Heights
Immi
More Labs
OpenStore
Dr Brandt
HelloSeen
EHP Labs
About-Face
Boy Smells
Tower 28 Beauty
Hippeas

Ready to sell subscriptions without ripping your hair out?

Make more money by partnering with the best engineering team.
A great subscription experience requires great engineering. And great engineering requires great engineers.
Skio is built by engineers from the best engineering companies in the world. New features are released weekly and the result is an unrivaled subscription experience for you & your customers.
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Ready to sell subscriptions without ripping your hair out?

Make more money by partnering with the best engineering team.
A great subscription experience requires great engineering. And great engineering requires great engineers.
Skio is built by engineers from the best engineering companies in the world. New features are released weekly and the result is an unrivaled subscription experience for you & your customers.
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