From gourmet food to cosmetics to specialty wines, the subscription box industry is booming. With an estimated $5 billion in yearly sales, this new business model is an excellent venture to grow your business.
Whether you’re looking to start one from scratch or add a subscription option to your existing offering, there are plenty of add-ons, plugins, and specially designed platforms to help you get started.
The right subscription platform can make or break your business, so we’ve done the legwork and researched how to start a subscription box, comparing platforms based on the following features:
- One time purchases
- Order management
- Multiple payment gateways
- Recurring subscription and autoship
- Billing schedules
- Cancellation saver
And put together a list of top 5 platforms to help you save time on research, and find the right fit for your business.
ChargeBee is a business solution for box subscription sellers, which comes with features designed to simplify the checkout and billing. Packed with all the business features you may need, it’s the perfect companion to your ecommerce business.
What we love
ChargeBee solely focuses on making sure your box subscription business is running smoothly. The app works with all the major ecommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce just to name a few. It’ll automate recurring billing, help set up and manage subscriptions the way it works for you, and provide you with a no-coding-required checkout. It’ll also help simplify inventory management with real-time order tracking, and will let you sell trial subscriptions, set up discounts and coupons, and even sell and accept gift subscriptions.
ChargeBee is more of a technical solution, rather than an all-in-one platform where you can create your subscriptions and an online store to sell them. Therefore it’s an extra expense, which can a struggle for smaller businesses.
There’s a free version for a businesses that generate less than $50k, and after that, the starting cheapest plan is $299 per month.
The all-in-one ecommerce platform was designed specifically for subscription box businesses and is ideal for anyone who’s just getting started.
What we love
The platform offers a free-to-use customizable website builder, powerful analytics to measure performance and allows you to store detailed customer data. There’s also an integrated marketplace to help businesses grow faster, as well as, smart checkouts, payment cycles, pre-paid subscriptions, and easy shipment management.
The major disadvantage is the limited range of integrations on offer. There are also fees per transaction so it can take smaller business longer to make a profit.
The platform offers only one plan for $39 a month plus transactional fees, but there is also a free 14-day trial that can help you decide whether this platform is for you.
Perhaps the easiest to use platform for beginners, Subbly offers features to add a check out to your existing website or create one from scratch. If you’re just getting started, then this is a platform for you.
What we love
The easy and free integration with any existing website and excellent customer support are the major selling points for this platform. You can also offer customers one-time purchase options as well as subscriptions. Rest easy with recurring billing, and reach on-the-go shoppers with mobile responsive designs.
The customization is limited, which can be an issue if you can’t find a theme or design that fits your brand. There are also transaction fees, and the platform only processes payments via Stripe.
There’s a free 14-day trial, and then it will cost sellers $14 a month to add the checkout features to an existing website, or $29 a month if you’re looking to build an ecommerce site with Subbly.
The crown jewel of all WordPress plugins, WooCommerce is completely free and easy to install. A popular choice among more advanced developers, the plugin will transform an existing WordPress site into a full subscription box ecommerce site in minutes.
What we love
The combo offers full control over the website with a high degree of customization. Plenty of beautiful themes to choose from, and a variety of sales plugins and integrations to scale your business. Rest easy with auto rebilling after failed payments, no monthly or transaction fees, and boost SEO with product reviews.
The platform is not beginner-friendly and can be tricky to set up. Users will need to have a grasp on coding and will face extra fees for domain and hosting.
WordPress and WooCommerce are free; however, there are extra yearly fees for a domain and hosting.
For repeat subscription business models the most popular Shopify app is ReCharge. A great option for entrepreneurs looking for an easy solution to expand their business.
What we love
Shopify offers great customer and m-commerce support across all plans, custom themes, and integrations. Upsell with a click of a button, allow customers to update frequency of their subscriptions and enjoy a clean user interface.
May not be the best option for beginners, as costs will accumulate with extra features. Even if you choose to keep it simple at the beginning, there’s a 1% transaction fee per order.
The app offers a 60-day trial, after which the app will cost an additional $19.99 (on top of your Shopify plan) per month.
So, there you have it – all the best available options at your fingertips. When it comes to beginners, the most affordable and beginner-friendly options are Cratejoy or Subbly. Although, it all comes down to the features that compliment your business, so be sure you’re getting what your business needs when you make your decision.