As you know, we’re big fans of lifecycle marketing and increasing your customer lifetime value by increasing your number of repeat purchases. The fastest way to boost your repeat conversion rate is to set up a subscription service. In our eyes, almost every business can be a subscription business. Whether that means creating a subscription box for your skincare line or a simple refill subscription for your coffee brand, there’s no reason not to take advantage of subscriptions.
Subscriptions are great because it automates purchases for customers by setting up recurring payments on a regular basis. This business model reduces your number of one-time purchases, increases your customer retention, makes it easier for your customers to buy products they love, and helps generate predictable revenue for your online store.
In this article, we’re going to be talking about the best tools for setting up a subscription service on Shopify.
Shopify is one of the best ecommerce platforms available. It’s easy to set up, the prices are fair, and the templates are gorgeous. But one of the best parts about using Shopify is access to countless integrations via the Shopify App Store.
Shopify apps are similar to plugins for WordPress. In most cases, all you have to do is add the app to your storefront, pick your settings and voila! Your subscription setup is complete.
To help you get started, we’ve rounded up the eight best subscription apps for Shopify in 2021.
1. ReCharge – The Best Subscription Solution
Think about the last time you purchased something consumable online. Anything from skincare to oral hygiene products. You were most likely presented with the option to pay full price, or pay a discounted price by turning the purchase into a monthly subscription. The addition of this option has grown in popularity as more and more companies learn that adding subscriptions for nearly every item can instantly boost monthly recurring revenue, or MRR.
ReCharge takes the subscription process and makes the setup simple for you while your customers get to enjoy a quick checkout, signing up for a subscription with no more effort than a regular checkout.
ReCharge takes just minutes to set up, but it offers endless customization to create the perfect subscription options for your brand. Hands down, this is the number one option for most Shopify stores.
But At What Cost?
Surprising for the number of basic features, ReCharge has a no-obligation standard plan that charges a fee of 1% + 10¢ per transaction. We know transaction-based fees can add up, but ReCharge creates such immense long-term value that it pays for itself with every single transaction.
2. Appstle Subscription – Rich in Features, Low in Price
Remember how amazing subscriptions are for your customers AND your recurring revenue? Well, Appstle agrees and actually offers a completely free plan that lets you build your subscriber base and learn to take full advantage of Appstle’s performance tracker, personalized notifications and automatic churn reduction. Up to 50 subscriptions can be created and managed all at once with no transaction or monthly fees.
With this comes 24/7/365 support. The customer service team at Appstle also provides multi-channel support through chat, email and phone to best match your availability no matter the time.
But At What Cost?
Appstle Subscription offers the free tier to help get more shops onboard with subscriptions, with more features and scalability available on their paid plans. These three tiers are still extremely affordable at $10, $30 and $100 a month for their Starter, Business and Enterprise options respectively with extra customization and subscription levels being the changing factor.
3. PayWhirl Subscription Payments – Full Access Pass to Subscription Management
PayWhirl isn’t here to mess around with different service tiers that mix and match features based on what the perceived value of each feature is. Even the free plan has unlimited subscriptions and unlimited access to every feature available. While not as feature-rich as ReCharge, PayWhirl appeals to new shop owners by giving them the entire toolbox when creating their initial subscriptions.
The features it does have will cover all of the basics and then some. Custom styling matches your brand and white label widgets keep your company as the customer’s only point of contact during the process.
But At What Cost?
Here’s one of the more unique factors of PayWhirl, the pricing is a balance of transaction and monthly fees. The free plan has a 3% transaction fee with the other plans being:
- Pro – $9/month and a 2% transaction fee
- Plus – $49/month and a 1% transaction fee
- Ultimate – $249/month and a 0.5% transaction fee
A scaled approach like this let you change tiers based solely on the cost effectiveness of each on since each tier gives access to every feature.
4. Bold Subscriptions – Premium Customization With a Matching Price
Bold Subscriptions by BOLD is easily amongst the most customizable subscription services, allowing you to change any aspect of the design and even the code itself. The Bold platform is definitely for power-users that are wanting to push every single detail to perfection, and it helps facilitate that! Strong analytics fill the dashboard with shopping trends, customer-specific preferences, how they got to your site and everything in between.
Customers also have the option to create an account to manage their subscriptions with the customer portal also being customizable. Providing a self-service area means customers can adjust subscriptions to match their changing needs rather cancelling altogether.
But At What Cost?
Contrary to our previous list-toppers, Bold Subscriptions does not currently offer a free tier to the service. While they do offer a gracious 60-day free trial, the cost afterwards is $49.99/month and a 1% transaction fee on all orders containing subscription products. This means that you must truly be dedicated to tailoring your subscription services to the last detail in order to get your value out of the platform.
5. Native – Working To Disrupt the Subscription Service Market
We have to hand it to Native Subscriptions, they know what they’re about and who stands in their way. The first blurb in their about section boasts easy migration from ReCharge and Bold, two higher-ranked subscription services that have a firm grasp on the market. They even have unlimited subscriptions in their free package to get more customers on board.
Native does an excellent job in focusing on value and trimming the fat found on some subscription service platforms. Rocking an easy-to-use customer portal, it’s possible for customers to skip, pause or cancel subscriptions or update their personal information such as address or payment all on their own time. The sales flow can also be optimized directly from Native giving you the power to make sure every step is just how you want it.
But At What Cost?
Native’s pricing is built around offering every feature across each tier with the subscription numbers being the deciding factor. The basic plan has no monthly cost but comes with a 0.5% transaction fee that maxes out at $49 per order. From there there are no transaction fees, only monthly. It goes:
- Starter – $9/Month for two subscriptions.
- Business – $24/month for five subscriptions
- Enterprise – $49/month for unlimited subscriptions
If you’re looking to have multiple subscription products, the free plan can get you started before swapping to enterprise to avoid any subscription limits in between.
6. SpurIT’s Subscription & Recurring Order – Flexible Subscription Payments
The Subscription & Recurring Order by SpurIT takes a more manual but flexible approach to subscription billing and payments. For each product subscription a customer signs up for, they receive a customized invoice that is automatically generated on their specified intervals. The invoice route means no transaction fees for subscriptions and customers never have to create an account or log in to start a subscription.
The widget utilized is fully customizable to match and work on 95% of Shopify’s templates making it available to nearly every shop currently open. Subscribers get reminders that invoices are coming up so they can make sure payment is ready.
But At What Cost?
SpurIT’s free plan is truly just a taste of the platform, providing one product on one page the ability to be subscribed to. Paid plans come with additional features such as assistance getting started, live chat support and more products eligible for subscription. The tiers are:
- Beginner – $15.95/month and up to 10 products per month
- Basic – $19.95/month and up to 100 products per month
- Pro – $29.95/month and up to 200 products per month
While it may seem like a small number of products for the price, the platform is better suited for stores that offer high-end or large-scale items and don’t carry a huge selection. The custom invoices are perfect for this level of commerce as engagement is often needed to keep high-value customers around.
7. Skio – A Strong Newcomer
Skio is a premium subscription service that takes what makes ReCharge and other established platforms successful and improves upon the user and customer experience. Customer accounts are automatically created with each subscription order and allows them to login without a password, eliminating the need to manage angry emails citing forgotten credentials.
The Skio platform also enables group subscriptions and discounts, increasing retention for multiple customers by leveraging the natural desire to not increase prices for the others after agreeing to sign up. Migration from ReCharge is done seamlessly without disruption to customer subscriptions or loss of payment method data. The biggest advantage Skio has? It uses modern frameworks and React/Next.js technologies to make building and updating subscriptions substantially faster than the competition.
But At What Cost?
Don’t panic, we know you’ve gotten use to having multiple tiers and free options available but Skio knows they have a product that can outperform the rest and as such, you’ll be looking at a $299/month cost with a 1% + 20¢ transaction and 3% of group revenue fee.
Right now, the only thing holding Skio back is the lack of overall features compared to Bold or ReCharge, but we’ll be keeping an eye on the platform and update you as it grows.
8. Assemble – Subscription Services in Seconds
Ok, maybe more like minutes, but Assemble Subscriptions is truly focused on getting your store up and running with subscriptions the moment you sign up. Self-service is built-in to the platform letting customers manage their subscriptions when it works best for them and expertly designed interfaces make them enjoy every moment spent on your site.
Assemble has no branding with their platform, keeping the experience consistent for your customers. A mixed cart simplifies the checkout process for the customer leading to more conversions and sales as they’ll be less likely to leave out of frustration. The team even offers a free onboarding call you can schedule to get up and running ASAP.
But At What Cost?
Assemble does not have a free package but users can enjoy a 30-day free trial on either of their offered plans, both of which have zero transaction fees and allow for unlimited subscriptions. You’ll be able to choose from:
- Standard – $25/month for stores on the Basic, Shopify or Advanced store plans
- Shopify Plus – $75/month for stores on the Shopify Plus plan. Comes with a dedicated account manager
At the end of the day, each subscription service offers the necessities to get product subscriptions added to your Shopify store. The choice ultimately comes down to which of the extra features is most fitting for your goals and how the pricing impacts that value.
Test out some of the free trial or free packaged services first to get a feel for how you want to handle the process.