The subscription business model is currently widely used by many entrepreneurs due to its several benefits for eCommerce businesses.
You can easily find some tips for effectively creating a Shopify subscription box and better understanding subscription eCommerce management.
In addition, before getting started, you need to determine your favorite subscription eCommerce platform on which you will establish your store and sell products.
Some of the platforms allow you to do a variety of business models at the same time, including subscription-based ones.
Hence, we will help you pick out the best subscription eCommerce platform by listing some of the most popular ones in the current market.
What is a subscription eCommerce platform?
First and foremost, you need to know what a subscription eCommerce platform is.
A subscription eCommerce platform allows businesses to sell subscription goods and services online.
Besides, eCommerce subscription management gives merchants the ability to build and manage subscription products while collecting payments from customers on a regular basis.
In other words, this platform makes it easier and simpler for you to collect weekly, monthly, or yearly eCommerce recurring payments from your subscribers.
Moreover, a good subscription eCommerce platform also offers your clients the option to renew, stop, or pause their subscription service at any time.
How to choose the best subscription eCommerce platform
After gaining a general understanding of the subscription eCommerce platform, you may feel a little bit confused as there are too many platforms for subscriptions nowadays.
To help you narrow down the options, we are listing some key factors that a good subscription eCommerce platform should have to successfully support you in doing business.
1. Product launch timeline
A product launch timeline is used by many businesses and marketers to stay on schedule for a successful launch.
Besides, employing a predetermined timeframe for product launches helps entrepreneurs smoothly and strategically organize their products for optimum profits.
Hence, you should carefully consider your company’s planned launch timeline before choosing a subscription eCommerce platform. That’s because the platform’s management system will directly affect your business operation.
For instance, your company frequently prepares for complicated launches of subscription products. In this case, you should choose the eCommerce subscription platform that allows you to have more time and access more advanced settings. Thus, you will get a better experience when running your subscription-based company.
2. Interface for subscribers
An ideal subscription eCommerce platform is one that will feature a user-friendly interface for both sides, merchants and subscribers.
Needless to say, a comprehensible and straightforward interface creates a comfortable and effective user experience, which has a great impact on sales and repeat purchases.
As a result, choosing a platform with excellent usability is completely essential. That’s because it’s all beneficial for both you and your customers when making subscription transactions in the long term.
3. Excellent subscription management
As mentioned above, good user experiences are significantly important to the long-lasting development of your subscription business model.
Hence, if your company prioritizes your clients’ shopping experiences, you can search for a subscription eCommerce platform with the same vision.
The solution focusing on the customer experience will readily provide both the retailer and the customer with a wide range of tools to help manage their subscriptions.
In addition, businesses wishing to offer subscriptions must also think about customer relationship management. It will greatly assist you in keeping your loyal subscribers and encourage new ones to register for subscription memberships.
Nothing is created to be completely flawless, and neither is your subscription eCommerce platform.
It means your chosen eCommerce subscription management may fail to address all of your business’s needs. Consequently, you will need to include integrations with tools like shipping, payment solutions, and other additional functions.
To overcome this difficulty, there are several tools available that you can use to enhance your customers’ experiences. Here are some common examples of external eCommerce tools:
- Analytics programs
- Tax solutions
- Payment methods
- Cross-selling and up-selling
- Customer service
- Retention solutions
5. Subscription product types
Your choice of subscription platform will also be influenced by the type of your subscription product.
The fact is that most subscription business models are flexible enough to accommodate both physical and digital memberships.
However, your subscription eCommerce platform must be tailored to the particular subscription product or service you intend to offer to achieve the best result.
Last but not least, one of the most fundamental traits that you should consider when choosing your subscription eCommerce platform is pricing.
In general, the subscription business model brings you and your customers many advantages.
For instance, you can gain a higher profit by receiving recurring payments on a monthly basis. Meanwhile, your clients find it more convenient and time-saving to repeat their previous purchases by registering a subscription.
Nevertheless, different subscription platforms will come with a variety of features and price points. Therefore, you should weigh their alternatives and choose the one that best meets your specific needs and desires for selling subscriptions.
Top 6 best options for your subscription eCommerce platform
In this part, we will suggest some trustworthy platforms that help your long-term clients make eCommerce recurring payments with ease.
With almost 1.75 million active merchants, Shopify is by far the most popular subscription eCommerce platform.
Due to its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) nature, Shopify was once recognized as the most user-friendly platform for start-up businesses.
However, Shopify now offers a full platform solution for both small businesses and large corporations. That’s because it has continuously expanded over the years, especially with the appearance of a new updated version, the Online Store 2.0, with more advanced settings.
But it should be noted that Shopify is not truly a native eCommerce platform for subscriptions due to the lack of built-in subscription functionality.
However, there is no need to worry as Shopify has Shopify AppStore, where you could find many subscription apps that allow you to run your subscription store like a well-oiled machine.
- Dozens of subscription apps: To sell your subscriptions, you’ll need to add an app to your Shopify store first. Fortunately, you can find more than 6,000 publicly accessible apps that can be found in the Shopify App Store.
- Many available payment gateways and integrations: Shopify gives your customers +100 payment gateways to make recurring payments. To name a few, we have Shopify Payments, Stripe, PayPal Express, Authorize.net., etc.
- User-friendly interface: As mentioned, the Shopify dashboard is super beginner-friendly and you can connect supporting apps to grow your store with ease.
- Additional costs: When you have to install more apps to run your subscription business, not all of the apps you want are free of charge. Consequently, there may be some additional costs for purchasing apps on Shopify.
- Required addons: To help your subscription business run smoothly, you need to figure out which features you should add to your eCommerce subscription management system.
With Shopify, you have a choice of three different plans to continue with after the 14-day free trial.
- Basic: $29 per month
- Shopify: $79 per month
- Advanced: $299 per month
However, be aware that Shopify charges a monthly fee as well as a transaction fee for each order that is successfully completed on your website.
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2. Big Commerce
First and foremost, BigCommerce is a hosted eCommerce platform designed for mid-market and enterprise-level commerce solutions.
Besides, BigCommerce’s all-in-one SaaS solution gives you everything you need to manage your online store.
In terms of eCommerce subscription management, BigCommerce is a wonderful eCommerce platform for subscriptions. That’s because it focuses on advanced commerce capabilities, especially for firms that are expanding quickly.
Moreover, BigCommerce provides support, scalability, and features at an enterprise level with a simple interface for users.
- Flexible options for payment processors: Despite not having built-in subscription features, BigCommerce collaborates with top-tier suppliers of payment technology. They will assist you in integrating subscription services and recurring payments into your business with ease.
- Easy-to-use and ready-to-use eCommerce platform: Besides supporting large corporations in running their subscription businesses, BigCommerce also has advanced tools for SEO and business growth as well.
- The only disadvantage of BigCommerce is its limitation on the business’s revenue. It means that if you reach a certain sales threshold, you will be forced to upgrade to a more expensive plan on BigCommerce.
At first, BigCommerce offers a free 15-day trial period for new users to try out the program.
After that, you can select one of three paid plans with no transaction fee or a plan with personalized pricing.
- Standard: $29.95 per month
- Plus: $79.95 per month
- Pro: $299.95 per month
- Enterprise: Custom Pricing
However, you must add an app in order to offer subscriptions to your BigCommerce store.
The app store has 13 subscription apps, including two free ones. The majority of for-pay apps provide custom pricing based on your company’s requirements.
Magento is owned by Adobe and is one of the most well-liked eCommerce platforms for subscriptions.
Besides, Magento is an open-source eCommerce platform that has received many positive reviews from users because of its limitless capacity for modification and scalability.
Like Shopify, Magento is not a platform specifically designed for selling subscriptions. As a result, you must use an extension from the Magento Marketplace to get subscription capabilities.
- Many available subscription extensions: To help you start your eCommerce subscription management, Magento supplies users with tons of subscription extensions on the Magento Marketplace
- Plenty of payment gateway: Out-of-the-box Magento integrates with several payment processors, including PayPal, Braintree, and Authorize.net. You may create and manage your eCommerce recurring payments with simplicity thanks to these integrations.
- Costly extensions: With Magento, you will need to install some extensions from the Magento Marketplace to make your subscription business model function. Hence, some extensions may be high-priced and not cost-effective in the long run.
- Other additional costs: Magento Open Source from Magento is totally free, but you still have to pay for website hosting and a domain name. In addition, you will have to pay development fees if you are not a person with technical knowledge.
Magento provides you with 2 solutions:
- Magento Open Source: Formerly known as Magento Community, Magento Open Source helps small businesses sell goods online. You can download and install it for free. Nevertheless, you still need to pay for hosting, a domain, and other expenses.
- Magento Commerce: It’s more expensive than the other one and costs around $22,000 per year. Still, this option is intended for users who require a fully functional eCommerce solution. With Magento Commerce, enterprises can get hosting, AI-powered analytics, and cloud architecture optimization.
Entrepreneurs wishing to sell subscription boxes or recurring purchases will find Wix to be the ideal subscription eCommerce platform.
Besides, those looking for a straightforward website builder with eCommerce functionality can also consider using it because Wix is easy to use and doesn’t require any coding knowledge or technical expertise.
Recently, Wix announced a new tool that lets businesses offer subscriptions for their items in Wix Stores.
Now, your consumers can select between one-time purchases and regular automatic charges.
- No additional costs: Unlike Shopify and Magento, Wix is a native subscription eCommerce platform and has created its own built-in features for selling subscriptions. As a result, you don’t have to pay an additional price to offer subscription goods and services to your subscribers.
- An easy-to-use website: Wix eCommerce is a hosted solution that is designed to be user-friendly and as simple to use as possible. Therefore, even small businesses or solo entrepreneurs can launch their own membership sites without paying a significant sum of money to hire a team of developers.
- Wix only connects with a few recurring payment processors. There are only four payment processors that Wix now supports, including PayPal, Stripe, Wix Payments, and Isracard.
However, you should note that some payment providers have limitations on the kinds of products they accept. Thus, remember to contact the payment service provider you selected for further information.
At present, Wix offers its users three plans to choose from:
- Business Basic: $17 per month
- Business Unlimited: $25 per month
- Business VIP: $35 per month
Another excellent SaaS subscription eCommerce platform for online sellers is Shift4Shop.
Shift4Shop was created with a special emphasis on the client’s experience. Besides, it aims to be the most popular solution for newcomers who are looking for the best subscription eCommerce platform to launch their own online business.
Additionally, Shift4Shop is going to be a fantastic Shopify alternative thanks to its user-friendly dashboard, customizable themes, and powerful SEO capabilities.
Nonetheless, Shift4Shop is similar to Shopify as it does not offer built-in subscription features. Instead, the company does provide a native interface called AutoShip that supports you in selling subscriptions and recurring payments in full.
- Available built-in subscription tools: Shift4Shop has a number of built-in features that are particularly suited for subscription businesses, which sets it apart from other competing platforms.
All plan subscribers can take advantage of this function without worrying about extra costs because Shift4Shop members can use all subscription apps for free. You get everything you require from Shift4Shop to launch your subscription box business right away. For example:
- Full system for recurring orders
- Safe and automatic eCommerce recurring payments
- Management of customer accounts and subscriptions
- Discounts for subscribers
- A wide range of payment processors: Shift4Shop may link to payment processors like PayPal, Square, Stripe, Authorize.net, and others that facilitate subscription purchases.
- As mentioned before, Shift4Shop is not a native subscription eCommerce platform. Therefore, you will need to pay for an integration to run your subscription business.
However, you don’t need to worry about the adaptability of the integration, especially when using AutoShip. Shift4Shop makes sure that AutoShip will integrate effortlessly with your online store because it is an original Shift4Shop app and not a third-party connection.
With Shift4Shop, there are several options for you to pick from according to your company’s demands and, more importantly, the type of your online store.
- Startup Store: $19.00 per month
- Basic Store: $29.00 per month
- Plus Store: $79.00 per month
- Power Store (most popular): $129.00 per month
- Pro Store: $229.00 per month
Each plan will be appropriate for the different scales of stores.
Moreover, the more expensive plan you pay for, the more advanced tools you will get to successfully run your eCommerce business.
Recurly is the best subscription eCommerce platform for current online sellers with extensive subscription management capabilities.
Besides, it is especially ideal for companies that require comprehensive reporting tools or intend to provide subscription-based goods and services for customers.
However, the main reason most businesses choose Recurly is that it’s a native subscription eCommerce platform. As a result, you don’t have to add more integrations to start your subscription business as it already has adequate built-in subscription features.
- Global sales and transactions: One special thing about Recurly is that it enables you to sell your subscriptions across several countries. If you choose to use Recurly, it will give your customers more payment methods by collaborating with 21 different payment gateways, including international ones. Examples are PayPal, Authorize.net, Stripe, Amazon Pay, Worldpay, Adyen, and more.
- Advanced eCommerce subscription management: Recurly is evaluated as a top-notch subscription eCommerce platform because it has a high level of subscription management.
- In addition, the ability to call off subscriptions on your website or via email notifications is another fantastic feature of Recurly. It will ensure you never miss out on any changes to your customers’ needs.
- Finally, Recurly’s advanced tools help you find ease in updating prices with one click to the central item catalog.
- Recurly is not an ideal option for businesses looking for a cost-effective subscription eCommerce platform. That’s because Recurly will charge you transaction fees for every successful subscription order.
Recurly is accessible to entrepreneurs in the United States, Great Britain, and Europe. In particular, US plans can be paid monthly or annually, with a yearly payment saving of roughly 25%.
Recurly offers users three registration plans to operate their subscription business:
- Core Plan (yearly subscription revenue up to $1M): $199.00 per month
- Professional Plan (yearly subscription revenue between $1M-$25M): Custom Pricing
- Elite Plan (yearly subscription revenue over $25M): Custom Pricing
However, you should rely on your subscription income every year to choose an appropriate plan on Recurly.
In a nutshell, choosing the right subscription eCommerce platform is significantly important to your business. That’s because your chosen platform will decide how your subscription business is operated and which advanced tools you can get to upgrade the user experience.
Besides, you also need to consider each subscription eCommerce platform’s pricing, as each entrepreneur will have a different budget. Purchasing a suitable and cost-effective plan not only helps you gain a better profit but also meets all of your requirements in offering subscriptions.