When it comes to subscription eCommerce, creativity is key. Take Jane, a marketing whiz promoting a new gourmet food subscription kit. She found a food blogger who loved experimenting with unique flavor combinations. Jane reached out, and together, they concocted a Surprise Chef Challenge. Subscribers received mystery ingredients each month to create their own culinary masterpieces.
The result? An unexpected hit! Thinking out of the box – literally – had sparked fresh ideas. In the world of subscription boxes, innovation isn’t just about what’s inside. It’s about the stories, experiences, and surprises that keep subscribers eagerly awaiting their next delivery.
For these reasons, the global subscription eCommerce market is likely to reach $2,643.6 bn in 2028, from $34.7 bn in 2020. This presents a great opportunity for anyone interested in entering this industry.
Subscriptions offer a win-win situation for both customers and businesses. Customers love their personalization, convenience, and value. And companies appreciate the recurring revenue and customer loyalty.
So, on which eCommerce platform should you build your subscription business? It’s important to choose wisely. You need to consider the universal features of the platform, plus its subscription capabilities.
Features of a subscription eCommerce platform
Subscription management: You should be able to easily create and manage subscription products and subscriber data.
Automatic payment: The platform should be able to collect recurring payments from subscribers automatically.
Integrated checkout: This keeps customers on the same platform for the duration of their subscription sign-up. A hijacked checkout forces customers to bounce from one platform to another. This can reduce subscription enrolment by as much as 40%.
Subscription promotion configuration: 62% of consumers sign up because they believe the subscription provides “good value for the price.” The platform should enable communication by making this value clear to the customer. That includes regular conversations about discounts, sign-up or retention rewards, and more.
Subscription management for subscribers: Subscribers should be able to cancel, unsubscribe, renew, and check their payments with ease.
Auto-renewal: 48% of customer churn is due to failed payments. Ensure the platform’s subscription can update expired credit cards or send notifications about it.
Churn anticipation: With AI-powered churn anticipation, you can predict when a subscriber is likely to stop doing business with a company. It then sends an email or SMS alerting the subscriber to skip a shipment if they have excess stock of the product.
Subscription analytics: The dashboard should compute all metrics necessary to run a subscription business. These include inventory forecasting, subscriptions per subscriber, churn rate, average order value, and monthly recurring revenue.
Which should be your go-to subscription platform?
There are two types of eCommerce platforms which can be used for subscriptions. The first is mainstream platforms such as Adobe Commerce, Shopify, and WooCommerce. In these cases, you will need to install subscription and recurring payment add-ons. These platforms do not offer in-built subscription services. However, with the right plug-ins, they can help you sell your offerings as a one-time purchase or on a subscription basis.
The second type of platform has built-in subscription functionalities. These platforms support one-time purchases and subscriptions but without requiring third-party add-ons. Examples include Wix and Salesforce Commerce.
In this blog, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of some of these subscription eCommerce platforms.
Adobe Commerce is an eCommerce platform with many features to build your online store. However, it does not support selling subscription products and services natively. You need to purchase ‘subscriptions and recurring payments’ extensions from the Adobe Commerce marketplace to enable subscription functions.
Some of the extensions available on Adobe Marketplace:
Advanced Subscription Products by Aheadworks (5⭐)
mPower Subscription & Recurring Payment Solution by Powersync (5⭐)
Subscriptions & Recurring Payments by Magenest (3.7⭐)
Subscriptions & Recurring Payment Solution by Magedelight (5⭐)
eWay Recurring & Subscriptions by eWay (N/A)
- A wide range of subscription extensions is available on the Adobe Marketplace.
- Depending on the extension provider you can integrate with a range of payment gateways depending on the extension provider.
- Adobe Commerce is heavily customizable and user-friendly.
- Numerous built-in eCommerce functions are available, such as catalog management, order management, customer service, customer segmentation, gift coupons, returns management, and more.
- The platform is highly scalable.
- Adobe Commerce has enterprise-level capabilities like AI and cloud-based platforms that support multiple business models.
- It provides detailed reports and analytics.
- It does not have built-in subscription functions – you need to install third-party extensions to enable these.
- It has no themes or templates – you will need to develop them from scratch.
- Programming knowledge is required to create a storefront and customize your website.
BigCommerce is an eCommerce platform that’s suitable for all kinds of online businesses and allows for in-built subscriptions and recurring payment solutions. The checkout process is simplified with the best payment technology partners. BigCommerce stores can be customized with a recurring billing service, or subscription service, from a range of advanced solutions. Your solution can enable customer subscriptions, credit card storage, and pre-ordering. These potential applications can be integrated into your store very simply, with no coding required. The platform and apps are all PCI-compliant.
- It’s a robust platform that provides product catalog management, secure payment processing, and more.
- The platform offers built-in subscription and recurring billing capabilities
- It lets you set up and manage subscription products, define subscription intervals, trial periods, etc.
- Since BigCommerce integrates with third-party apps and services, it lets you extend its functionality and integrate with popular subscription management tools.
- It supports a wide range of payment gateways
- It helps you attract and retain subscribers through marketing tools like SEO and email marketing.
- BigCommerce may not be the most cost-effective for small businesses or startups
- The platform offers some scope for customization, but not as extensive as that of other platforms.
- There have been some complaints about weak reporting and analytics features.
Shopify is a versatile eCommerce platform. Like Adobe Commerce, it does not have built-in subscription functions. Nevertheless, you can enable subscriptions through integrations with third-party apps.
Some apps offer advanced subscription features such as segment-based plans, targeted upselling, and more.
Some of the best-rated subscriptions apps on the Shopify App Store:
Appstle Subscriptions (4.9⭐)
Seal Subscriptions (4.9⭐)
Bold Subscriptions (4.1⭐)
Subscription by BSS (4.8⭐)
- It provides integrations with a host of apps and add-ons for subscriptions.
- The platform supports a range of sales channels. You can sell subscriptions on your online store, point of sale, or have a buy button on other sites.
- The subscription add-on you choose can integrate with Shopify’s built-in payment gateway to process recurring payments. You can also integrate with other payment gateways.
- Shopify has a website builder with a wide range of templates on the Shopify Theme Store.
- It has options for store branding. You can easily generate a business name, logo, domain, and access stock photography.
- It supports multiple marketing tools, including email marketing, Facebook Ads, business chat, customer groups, and marketing automation.
- It provides a robust customer relationship management (CRM) dashboard.
- Reporting and analytics are included in the platform.
- You will need integration with third-party apps to sell subscriptions.
- Add-on apps can be expensive.
- You will need development expertise for advanced customizations.
- The platform charges high transaction fees for those not using the Shopify Payments gateway.
WooCommerce is one of the leading open-source eCommerce platforms. However, it is not a standalone system but a WordPress plugin. WordPress is a free CMS. You just need to pay for hosting and domain to get a basic WordPress site. You can then purchase templates and plug-ins to make it more advanced. You will also need to pay an annual fee to install WooCommerce and the subscription plug-in. With this, you can quickly bring subscription capabilities to your website.
- With the WooCommerce subscription plug-in, you can offer both simple and variable subscription plans. Each variation in a variable subscription can have a different sign-up fee, trial period, recurring price, billing period, and subscription length.
- It can be integrated with Amazon, Magento, and Shopify using plug-ins.
- If you offer multi-tier subscriptions, your customers can easily upgrade and downgrade their subscription plans.
- It provides integration with a wide range of payment gateways.
- The platform provides built-in renewal notifications and automated emails.
- It has detailed reports to track your upcoming revenue, the number of active subscribers, cancellations, retention rate, and more.
- Offers administrators access to add reviews for SEO.
- Subscription add-on is available at a one-off payment, which can be expensive.
- WooCommerce offers limited built-in customization options. It relies on plugins for extra functionality, such as themes, templates, etc.
- The website can be challenging to set up as it depends on plugins for various functionalities rather than built-in features. If you face any problems, WooCommerce does not provide support; you will need third-party support.
- Due to the open-source nature of its code, it is vulnerable to security threats.
Wix is a popular CMS with a simple drag-and-drop builder to build your website. You can add an online subscription store to your Wix website without any technical expertise. Just use their web store builder after signing up for their Business and eCommerce plan.
Wix offers product subscription features in the Business Unlimited and Business VIP plans. The subscription features are built-in, so you don’t have to pay additional fees or install third-party apps. You can sell your product/service as a subscription or a one-time purchase.
- It has an easy-to-use website builder with included AI.
- It offers a wide range of subscription settings and choices out of the box.
- It offers flexible purchase options, auto-renewals, customization, and more.
- It has discount and voucher code options.
- Exporting customer data can be difficult.
- It does not provide stock management alerts. This makes it difficult to scale.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud
Salesforce Commerce Subscription Storefront is a one-stop, end-to-end solution to offer subscriptions. It has a comprehensive array of built-in features specifically tailored to meet the demands of subscription-based eCommerce. It has pre-built connectors such as Salesforce Billing to help you integrate with a payment gateway and a basic tax calculation engine. It also makes the entire billing cycle efficient by picking up order records for invoicing, payment, and revenue recognition.
- The platform adjusts products, pricing, stock information, and other content to match supply.
- It offers a trial subscription option for new users with a timed cancellation option.
- The platform enables users to upgrade to higher plans or avail of add-on items helping you to upsell and cross-sell.
- It allows for easy renewal of subscriptions.
- The ‘co-terming’ feature helps to schedule two or more subscription offerings so that their delivery dates coincide.
- It allows for multiple delivery dates and locations.
- Salesforce Einstein AI helps you evaluate the risk of late payments for subscriptions.
- It syncs your product catalog to major online retailers like Amazon, eBay, etc.
- It can be difficult and expensive to customize.
- It has contracts that lock storeowners into long-term commitments.
With the wide array of subscription eCommerce platforms available, choosing the ideal one can feel overwhelming. Adobe Commerce, Shopify, and WooCommerce offer similar feature sets, as they require plug-ins to enable subscriptions. These plug-ins are tailored specifically for their ecosystem. This means that they ensure robust subscription capabilities.
On the other hand, Wix and Salesforce Commerce Cloud stand apart with their out-of-the-box subscription module. Wix is remarkably user-friendly for basic websites, while Salesforce Commerce Cloud shines with advanced functionalities.
Each platform has its own use cases, target audience, and distinctive features. Consider whether your team is familiar with one of the platforms or if you already have an existing eCommerce website. You also need to think about the overall eCommerce development and maintenance experience, including the ability to sell one-off products. To explore further, contact our team of experts at Ziffity for a personalized consultation.