Last updated: August 23, 2023
Staying ahead of the competition and keeping customers interested has become more complex than ever in the fast-paced world of ecommerce. Adopting innovative techniques is critical for Shopify online stores to attract new clients and retain their loyalty.
Upscribe understands that as a game-changing trend in the online retail industry, ecommerce subscription services provide a solution that caters to customer preferences and provides businesses with a consistent flow.
But to effectively manage a subscription business, you need the right tool.
In this article, we’ll examine a few of the best ecommerce subscription platforms (including features, pricing, pros, and cons) to help you decide which is best.
What are ecommerce subscription services?
Ecommerce subscription services are an ecommerce business model that allows customers to order and receive products on a recurring basis. Customers sign up for a subscription plan and receive their product(s) regularly—usually (but not always) at a discounted rate from the original, one-time purchase price.
A wide range of ecommerce businesses, including cosmetics, snacks, coffee, fragrances, home goods, and more, has employed the subscription revenue model. This broad adoption can be attributed to the model’s ability to accommodate various customer preferences and needs while allowing businesses to remain profitable.
Types of ecommerce subscription services (with examples)
Access subscription model
With the access subscription model, the focus isn’t just on delivering products at a set frequency.
Subscribers also gain access to exclusive benefits, such as:
- Content (e.g., Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, etc.)
- Discounts (e.g., Beekeeper’s Naturals offers subscribers 15% discounts + free shipping)
- Products (e.g., Four Sigmatic has members-only products)
This subscription model gives customers an extra incentive to subscribe beyond convenience.
Replenishment subscription model
The replenishment (or “auto-ship”) subscription model allows you to receive essential items and goods regularly, saving you the trouble of making a purchase every time you need them. This is ideal for food, medications, and supplements since customers don’t need to worry about running out of everyday essentials.
For example, AG1’s replenishment subscription model makes life easier for customers by ensuring consistent delivery of products. They provide a schedule to ensure subscribers receive their orders regularly (ideally, as they’re running out of products from the previous cycle).
Curation subscription model
The curation subscription model involves customers signing up for a selection of products the company curates. These items might be hand-picked based on preferences or tailored to a specific lifestyle or need.
This type of subscription is fantastic since it makes customers feel unique and valued. Imagine receiving a box every month with items that someone thought you might enjoy based on your preferences. It gives users the impression that the organization knows them well and cares about them.
The Maple Box Subscription is a great example of a successful application of the curation subscription model. They offer a highly customizable quarterly plan, where you can receive a curated collection of seasonal organic products and the latest issue of Maple magazine within that period.
Why are ecommerce subscription services important?
According to a McKinsey & Company survey, acquiring new clients might be 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones.
Companies that use subscriptions to create loyal customers save money on advertising to get new customers. This also allows them to spend less money on things like order management and inventory management, potentially saving companies a significant amount of money!
Better revenue forecasts and projections
Creating reliable budgets, strategies, and spending plans is almost only possible with predictable income. Offering subscriptions is an effective way to solve this problem.
Having monthly or annual subscription plans enables you to make better estimations of how much revenue your business will generate in a given period. This is especially true if you can rely on a subscription service platform like Upscribe that provides detailed analytics covering:
- Subscriber numbers
- Average order value
- Recurring revenue
Allows for better personalization
According to the Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey, 56% of shoppers prefer to buy from a retailer that knows their name. Subscriptions enable businesses to personalize their offerings for each consumer due to the amount of data the subscription model generates.
There are tons of ways to personalize the subscription experience.
For example, with Upscribe’s Klaviyo integration, businesses can send customized email flows to upsell customers and scale their subscription program. This can encourage customers to buy more items or try new products, which is beneficial to the growth of your business.
Criteria to consider when choosing ecommerce subscription service platforms
Before considering all the options available, you need to determine your business needs.
Different subscription service platforms offer different features and can perform different services. Making the appropriate choice will be more straightforward if you know your company’s needs.
When selecting an ecommerce subscription service platform, keep the following in mind:
Robust inventory management
For your subscription business to succeed, you need to be able to keep tabs on your stock in real time. That’s where inventory management comes into play.
An inventory management system satisfies your consumers by ensuring you always have enough stock of whatever they need. At the same time, it helps you avoid selling more than you have. Excellent inventory management is essential for seamless operations, whether your store is large or small.
Level of customization
If your brand is well-defined, you’ll probably want the ability to customize your online store (and subscription platform) to match. You might want to customize elements like widgets or sections to match your vision. Before you pick a platform, make sure it allows for these adjustments.
When deciding on the best platform for your online store, keep two things in mind:
These tools can help your store do more—whether it’s connecting to social media or accepting payments. Because not all platforms provide the same tools, determine what your store requires and check to see if the platform offers those tools. It’s like selecting the best tools for the job to improve the efficiency of your store.
Best ecommerce subscription service platforms
Consider the unique features, pricing, and reviews when choosing an ecommerce subscription platform to ensure it meets your business objectives.
These tools can assist you in creating tailored shopping experiences, successfully managing subscriptions, and increasing consumer loyalty.
- Upscribe: For growing Shopify businesses
- Subbly: For integrated checkout
- SubscriptionFlow: For automated subscription management
- Recurly: For subscription billing
- Sellfy: For subscription ecommerce website creation
- Cratejoy: For small subscription box businesses
- Shift4Shop: For those looking for a Shopify alternatives
- Pabbly: For simplified taxes
- Volusion: For third-party subscription integrations
- Podia: For coaches and creators who want to sell digital content and services
- ProfitWell: For accurate subscription metrics on a budget
Upscribe is a subscription service platform designed specifically for Shopify businesses.
Brands like True Botanicals, , Athletic Greens, and RYZE Superfoods trust Upscribe to deliver a fantastic subscription experience through intuitive self-service customer portals, powerful analytics, and subscription-focused growth tools.
- Subscriber Experience: Upscribe offers an intuitive customer portal that enhances the feel and functionality of your online store. It allows subscribers to manage their subscriptions easily with options for pausing, adding products, and more via web, mobile, SMS, and email.
- Growth Tools: Shopify businesses can reduce churn rates with timed payment retry and smart cancellation. These tools allow merchants to recover declined payments and provide gifts and discounts to customers considering cancelling their subscriptions. Additionally, Upscribe gives merchants intuitive and advanced dashboards that let them track their overall performance.
- Single-Click Reorder Functionality for non-subscribers:: Your customers can now make one-time purchases at your store without subscribing, providing flexibility and convenience. Upscribe also makes their reordering seamless, with reordering functionality available via SMS or email.
At Upscribe, we offer one plan designed for any subscription business.
Our subscription service platform costs $100 monthly plus 1% for each transaction with Upscribe’s regular plan—no additional costs for transactions with free priority assistance.
This fixed rate is accessible to all ecommerce businesses and allows you to scale without worrying about price hikes and overages.
Subbly is a platform designed especially for subscriptions.
Over 9,000 businesses use Subbly to take advantage of the benefits of subscription billing. You can easily launch your subscription business with a no-code website builder and a range of logistics and operations tools. You can also integrate Subbly’s checkout if you already have an online store.
- Website Customization
- Integrated Checkout
- Multiple Payment Providers
Subbly offers four paid plans.
Lite costs $19/month, Basic costs $39/month, Subbly costs $79/month, and Advanced costs $159/month. Transaction fees vary based on your chosen plan but expect to pay 1% to 1.25% per transaction.
There’s also an enterprise plan for large companies.
- Built-in subscription features (no add-ons required)
- CSV exports available
- No plugins for most features
- No multi-language support in the Lite plan
- Automations only available in premium plans
- Not many third-party payment gateways available
Rating: 4.9 · 169 reviews
SubscriptionFlow is a valuable tool for subscription-based businesses.
It helps merchants maximize the value of their subscription plans with managed subscriptions, on-time payments, and a smooth subscription process. SubscriptionFlow also provides various tools to help businesses track their customers and subscriptions for simplified admin.
- Simple Subscription Upgrades/Downgrades
- Multiple Pause/Resume Methods
- Ecommerce Optimization Tools
SubscriptionFlow provides flexible pricing plans tailored to different needs.
Choose from the Startup plan at $149/month for three users, the Rise plan at $199/month for ten users, and the Scale plan at $299/month for 25 users. For larger organizations, there’s a custom Enterprise plan.
- In-depth analysis and statistical reports
- Easy payment collections
- Extensive subscription management
- No free trial periods
- Inexperienced support staff
Rating: 4.9 · 28 reviews
Recurly is a well-known subscription platform trusted by many businesses around the world.
It’s a one-stop shop for managing subscriptions and collecting payments. With Recurly, you can quickly customize your subscription plans by setting pricing rules, setup fees, add-ons, and discounts. You also gain access to tons of useful tools for subscriber management and growth.
- Range of Pricing Models
- Subscription Analytics
- Trials, Discounts, and Coupons
- Dunning Campaigns & Backup Payment Methods
Recurly offers its Core plan for free for one year to businesses with less than $40,000 in annual subscription revenue. After that, the plan costs $249 per month.
They also offer Professional and Elite plans, but you’ll need to request a quote for pricing information.
- Excellent support staff
- Integration with a wide range of payment processors and gateways
- High pricing plus transaction fees
Rating: 4.6 · 58 reviews
Sellfy caters to businesses of all sizes, offering a seamless solution to kick-start sales without any hassle.
The platform includes features for marketing and marketing to customers via social media or your online store. It also allows your consumers to manage their subscriptions independently, making things easier for everyone.
- Mobile Optimization
- Upselling Tools
- Online Store Customization
The Starter plan costs $29/month and supports up to $10k in monthly sales.
Business (up to $50k in annual revenue) and Premium (up to $200k in annual revenue) plans cost more at $79/month and $159/month, respectively.
- Creates stores quickly and easily
- Clear and fast payment procedures
- Inefficient customer service
- The user interface is not user-friendly
Rating: 4.5 · 30 reviews
Cratejoy makes it incredibly simple to launch your own subscription box business.
They have a range of templates and tools that make setup quick and painless. When you launch your subscription box, it’ll automatically be listed on the Cratejoy marketplace with marketing and promotional support.
- Access to the Cratejoy Marketplace
- Marketing and Promotional Support
- Subscription Site Designer
Cratejoy only offers a single pricing plan for all businesses.
It costs $24.99 monthly and 1.25% + $0.10 per transaction.
- Intuitive design and ready-to-use templates
- Advanced analytics and tools
- Easy to create and manage subscriptions
- Customer service could be faster
- Payment processors and third-party apps are limited
- UI is a bit outdated
Rating: 4.3 · 41 reviews
Shift4Shop is designed to be user-friendly, particularly for those who are new to ecommerce.
The tool provides an easy-to-use dashboard, customizable themes, and tools for managing subscriptions and plans. You can create product catalogs, process payments, and even manage shipping. It also has powerful analytics tools to help you understand customer behavior and optimize your store for success.
- Ecommerce Website Builder
- Order Management Software
- Optimized for Mobile Commerce
- Multiple Payment Processors
For new customers, Shift4Shop offers its eCommerce platform solution for $29/month with PayPal. The unlimited, enterprise-grade plan is $0 with a minimum of $500 monthly processed transactions.
- Built-in and ready-to-use subscription features
- Robust platform
- Affordable pricing plans
- Monthly transaction fees
- Inconsistent customer support
Rating: 4.1 · 129 reviews
Pabbly Subscription Billing is a subscription platform that helps businesses manage recurring billing.
It simplifies things by handling billing, taxes, and subscription management. With Pabbly Subscriptions, you can easily track what people buy, manage goods, and view reports about your payment process.
- Tax Automation
- Built-In Affiliate Module
- Dunning Management
- Zero Transaction Fees
- Customizable Checkout Pages
- One-Time & Recurring Payments
Pabbly offers three plans—Plus Standard for $25/month, Plus Pro for $50/month, and Plus Ultimate for $100/month.
- Works without the need for a website
- Offers tiered pricing for subscriptions
- Advanced dashboard
- Customer service needs improvement
- UI is not intuitive and a bit confusing
Rating: 4.5 · 67 reviews
Volusion is an ecommerce platform with a range of features for subscription businesses.
Setting up an online store with products, categories, and warehouses is easy. For subscription products, you can define pricing rules and charge customers on a recurring basis. There are also analytics features to help you track subscriptions.
- Free Themes
- Site Builder
- Integrated Checkout & Payments
- Partner Marketplace
Each of Volusion’s four plans has different features.
Pricing ranges from $35/month for Personal, $79/month for Professional, and $299/month for Business. Prime varies in cost depending on gross merchandise volume.
- Powerful ecommerce tools
- No coding required for website building
- Minimal site modification options
- Limited integrations with third-party apps
- Costly premium themes
Rating: 3.2 · 63 reviews
Podia is a platform designed to make it easier to sell digital products and services like online courses, coaching sessions, webinars, and community access.
With features spanning web design, content creation, marketing, and billing, Podia aims to give creators a one-stop shop for selling digital products.
It’s easy to create subscription plans around your content and expertise—either charge a subscription for access to your content and knowledge or set up plans for recurring services (like coaching).
- Create courses, webinars, communities, and coaching programs
- Set up one-time or recurring plans
- Grow your audience through email marketing
Podia has a free plan with 8% transaction fees. The Mover plan ($33/month) and the Shaker plan ($75/month) have zero transaction fees.
- No transaction fees for premium plans
- Unlimited hosting
- Free-forever plan
- The page builder needs improvement
- No open API
Rating: 4.6 · 88 reviews
ProfitWell allows you to track and analyze your subscription metrics—from churn rates, customer lifetime values (CLTVs), and monthly recurring revenues (MRRs). This helps optimize your subscription pricing strategy and ensures your business remains competitive and valuable.
- Advanced Algorithms for Customer Retention
- Audit-Proof Revenue Recognition
- Intelligent Pricing
Fastspring Metrics is completely free.
However, premium features come at an additional cost. Advanced customer retention prices vary based on revenue recovered. Audit-proof revenue recognition starts at $1,000/month, and Intelligent Pricing starts at $15,000/month.
Pricing plans for Enterprise are custom.
- Powerful insight and analytics
- Provides an extensive overview of important SaaS metrics
- Retention feature works really well
- Some metrics are difficult to understand
- Premium features are costly
Rating: 4.7 · 21 reviews
Ready to unlock ecommerce subscription success?
Ecommerce subscription services have brought a new era of individualized shopping experiences, allowing businesses to interact deeply with their customers while establishing consistent revenue streams.
Businesses can succeed in increasingly competitive markets by embracing subscription models and leveraging the platform. The tools above can help companies monitor their program’s success, compare performance to competitors, and optimize pricing plans.
With Upscribe, you gain access to a wide selection of tools designed to enhance the benefits of subscription models. Build compelling offers, prevent churn, improve CX, and more.
Get started with a demo today!