The Best subscription app for Shopify lets you manage subscriptions for your business effortlessly.
Its 5-25x more expensive to attract a new customer, than retaining an existing one. It’s no wonder then that the top ecommerce brands now offer an active subscription model.
But with a million tasks to juggle, You will find it tough to chase recurring payments. Subscription apps do that for you, along with a lot more.
Today, we are going to look at the 5 best subscription apps for Shopify.
Along with detailed reviews, we will also touch on some of the critical factors to consider when selecting an app for your business.
Here are our top picks for the best Shopify subscription apps to try this year.
- SKIO – New App that rivals ReCharge
- ReCharge – Proven Brand Used by Big Ticket Ecommerce Stores
- UpScribe – The Booming Subscription App with a Waitlist
- Bold – Best option for Small Brands
- Paywhirl – App with a payment centric approach for international businesses
Fully Loaded Subscription App
For a long time, the Shopify marketplace for subscription apps was dominated by a select few brands. Skio offers a fully-loaded feature set that can disrupt the status quo. It simplifies some of the most complex tasks associated with subscription management.
Further, the focus is on ease of use, for both the ecommerce business and the customer. From editing subcriptions to offering referral bonuses, Skio makes life easier for you.
If you look at the Skio website, the comparison chart with the ‘brand that cannot be named’ is unmissable. We have reasons to believe that the comparison is with ‘Recharge’, another popular software brand in this space.
Does Skio manage to hold its own against a much bigger brand like recharge?
Let’s find out.
Upfront, Skio allows businesses to seamlessly migrate from Recharge without any interruptions in service. Switching service providers is more common than you think in the ecommerce industry. But generally, switches are a hassle, especially when there’s customer data involved.
Skio makes this easy. You can migrate from Recharge or Bold and carry over all the existing data. You don’t even need to edit the credit card details.
Customers dislike being redirected to third party checkout sites. It seems like a redundant way to process payments. Skio allows native checkouts from within your Shopify store. This increases trust and may boost conversions.
One of the big draws is the fully-customizable headless portal. Other services charge a hefty fee for this. Skio throws it in along with their pro bundle, which increases its appeal manifold. Also, Skio’s pages are quicker loading because they are built on React/Next.js., as opposed to Liquid.
Another Skio exclusive is the group subscriptions discount. Solo subscription discounts are common across the industry. Group subscriptions on the other hand, might be a good way to break out.
Skio has a flat monthly price of $299/month. In addition to this, they charge you 1% + 20¢ transaction fee on orders that have a subscription payment & 3% of the revenue from group buys. This is one of the cheapest pricing plans considering the features on offer.
Skio is a reasonably new addition to the marketplace. But it’s fast rising to become one of the most popular choices for small and medium sized merchants. If the reviews are to go by, they will definitely disrupt the status quo.
Proven Brand Used by Big Ticket Ecommerce Stores
Up next, we have ReCharge, the competitor that Skio aims to better. ReCharge is a much older player than Skio and hence, has a longer, proven track record. It was the first brand to introduce some of the best in-class features.
It also offers more integrations than any other brand in the business. For instance, you can easily integrate recharge with Google Analytics, which is one of the best analytics app for Shopify. That’s not the only one. As of now, ReCharge supports 25 one-click integrations.
Here’s a look at some of the features that separate it from the competition.
Subscriptions by default are tricky to enable in an existing Shopify store.
In fact, many small brands put off activating the subscription model for this very reason. Because they’d be neck deep in code and dealing with developers.
But ReCharge makes it as simple as drag and drop. Just tweak a few simple settings in the back end and you are ready to offer subscriptions in the shopping cart.
What are the pet peeves that make customers churn? ReCharge addresses all of them. It allows customers to manage their subscriptions through multiple touch points. They can even use SMS to edit their subscriptions, adding or removing or even swapping products/services.
If they don’t need a subscribed service temporarily, they can choose to pause the billing as opposed to cancel the subscription. Lastly, ReCharge automatically notifies customers about upcoming charges. This is a great way to increase trust and maintain transparency.
For instance, if a customer set up a recurring payment and then forgot all about it, alerting them is a good way to avoid dealing with a disgruntled customer later on.
While ReCharge offers a plethora of one-click integrations, it has an extensive suite of inbuilt tools. The analytics module for instance, tracks every tiny bit of data down.
How many sales did the store generate? What is the AOV? What about the average refund? What’s the average churn rate? You get all details at one glance in the dashboard.
What’s more is that you can quickly export these to reports that are easy to get a hang of.
ReCharge has a set of amazing workflows that automate complex tasks related to subscriptions. But it also offers a robust set of APIs that allow big brands to tailor everything to the T. You can create a post-sale upsell for a subscription, or tweak it in any other way that you deem fit.
ReCharge’s pricing is pretty similar to what Skio offers. But there are some add-on charges that might be deal breakers for some brands.
They have two pricing tiers that you can choose from. The Standard plan has no monthly fee. Instead, you are charged 1% + 10¢ per transaction from the store revenue.
The Pro plan is priced at $300/month plus 1% + 19¢ per transaction from the store revenue. Both these plans give you access to their basic support service. If you are looking for advanced support (one on one), it will cost you $300 additional each month.
Big ecommerce stores that seek reliability and cutting edge technology will prefer ReCharge. They have a proven track record and still are the industry leaders when it comes to features and integrations. Smaller brands might find better value with Skio though.
The Booming Subscription App with a Waitlist
You cannot subscribe to UpScribe.io today even if you wanted to. That’s because there’s a waiting list of brands waiting to join them. That’s an indicator of how popular this service is. When we looked closely at the feature set and the pricing, we found two reasons for this popularity.
Firstly, it matches up to the best loyalty program Shopify apps in the marketplace. Take any popular brand like ReCharge or Skio and UpScribe probably offers more features. Secondly, it does not charge a flat rate fee per transaction like the rest of the brands do.
If your ecommerce store clocks 6-figures in revenue, that’s sizeable savings without any tradeoffs. Now you know why there’s a list of people waiting to dive in.
UpScribe offers a detailed customer portal that you can strip down to the bones and redesign to suit your branding kit, without dealing with a single line of code.
Colors, fonts, sizes, images, everything can be tweaked. If you fancy a hands-off approach, there are premade portals that you can choose from. All of these are battle tested for conversions.
UpScribe allows businesses to offer customers a flexible subscription model with the freedom to tweak, add, remove or swap products and services.
Customers hate being shoehorned into buying something. Providing them with full control on what services to retain and what to remove, increases the retention rate and reduces churn rate.
Just like the customer portal, UpScribe lets merchants edit their products/services with ease. Everything is drag and drop. You can adjust subscription date, frequency, billing, and enable one-click skip, which lets customers pause the service briefly.
Customers also have the option to gift products/subscriptions and rename them. You can enable subscriptions on specific product variants, tweak
UpScribe’s merchant portal for us, is the feature that separates them from the rest of the services in this list. It shows you all critical details about the ecommerce store in an intuitive dashboard.
How many changes did a customer make to a subscription? Which are the best performing workflows? What are the upcoming charges or the failed ones?
Most brands rely on the best upsell app for Shopify to offer upsells and cross sells. But UpScribe allows you to offer both through the merchant portal.
The analytics can track customer behavior and show you which customers are on the fence. You can automatically add a discount to their upcoming subscription to boost loyalty and increase retention.
UpScribe has a simple and transparent pricing plan. Its $300/month plus 1% on transactions. Its definitely cheaper than the other services we have listed so far.
UpScribe has just been listed on the Shopify marketplace. But it’s already one of the most sought after services in this space. It might be a great choice for small to medium brands who want to scale without paying through their nose.
Best option for small brands
Bold Subscriptions is one of the top 3 best subscription apps for Shopify. If it wasn’t for UpScribe’s robust feature set, Bold would have been on the 3rd position in this list.
It is one of the oldest software in this space and hence has had ample tweaks and iterations, ironing out creases and perfecting their offering.
The current version offers some amazing features that are exclusive to Bold. Also, their customer support is one of the best in the business. So, if you are migrating from a different software to Bold and get stuck with onboarding, you are backed by the best.
Let’s take a look at why we and many other businesses like Bold.
Bold Subscriptions automatically syncs with your store’s CSS to come up with a customer portal that adapts the same design and colors as your store. This is the default setting. So the moment you subscribe and connect your Shopify store, you have the option to use this as it comes. No need to even tweak a single setting.
Bold allows you to create a custom onboarding workflow, which is a great touchpoint to collect vital customer data that can be exported to your CRM.
If the store requires the customer to start afresh while adding a subscription service to the cart, then it can lead to cart abandonment.
Bold allows mixed cart checkouts. This means that if you have an upsell on the checkout page, that workflow functions independently. The customer can add both, a onetime purchase and a subscription to the same cart.
Just like most other best loyalty program Shopify apps, Bold hands over bulk of the control to the customer. This allows them to make changes to their subscriptions without reaching out to customer support. The added advantage is the reduced load on your customer support team.
Bold has two tiered pricing plans, both of which are cheaper as compared to the competition. The Core plan is priced at $49.99/month plus a 1% transaction fee while the Premium Plan is priced at $49.99/month with a 1% transaction fee.
The premium one offers advanced customization features and API integrations. Also, you get dedicated account management from their skilled team of professionals.
Many small brands put off subscribing to a service like this because of the price. Bold takes that problem out of the equation. Despite the affordable price tag, their feature set is on-par with the big brands in the business. So you are not really missing out on anything.
More Payment Centric Approach
Paywhirl is a subscription management software that takes a payment-centric approach. Right from the seamless payment gateway integrations, to support for multiple currencies and cards, the focus is on enabling smooth payments, without the customer ever having to leave your site.
This does not mean that it lacks the customization features centered on managing subscriptions mind you. You can do all of that too, with a drag and drop interface to boot. Here’s a look at why we like Paywhirl.
Hate dealing with code to begin accepting subscription payments on the site? Paywhirl has you covered. They have premade widgets that you can drag and drop on to the product pages. That’s all it takes to start offering subscriptions.
No complex codes, no messy tweaks and no time guzzling developers to deal with. We also like that you can club multiple widgets together to create a custom workflow for the subscription service.
Paywhirl sends out automated alerts to customers about an upcoming subscription renewal. So do most other apps, but there’s a difference.
Paywhirl uses professional invoice and email templates with detailed breakdowns, taxes and discounts if any. This may not seem like a huge advantage. But we believe that it has a role to play in increasing trust and boosting credibility.
You are never too far from the data you need, in the Paywhirl dashboard. A single glance gives you access to vital like Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), customer lifetime value (LTV) and other sales metrics.
You can even track performance by region and switch to a detailed view on churn. Simple dashboards like these make it easy to stay on top of your business performance.
Paywhirl has inbuilt algorithms that tap into your existing business data to come up with accurate predictions for revenue, churn and growth.
Paywhirl has a robust set of security features including TLS 1.2 cryptographic protocol encryption and token-based encryption which ensures that sensitive customer data is never stored.
Paywhirl offers a 14-day fully functional trial for brands who are looking to assess the service before they sign up. They also have a free plan where there are no fixed monthly charges. The caveat is that you pay 3% transaction fees on this plan, which is 2% more than what any other software charges you.
The next tier is the Business Pro plan priced at $49/month with a 2% transaction fee. Business Plus is priced at $149/month with a 1% transaction fee and Business Ultimate is priced at $249/month with a 0.5% transaction fee.
As you can see, there’s a plan for businesses of all sizes.
Paywhirl supports 10 payment gateways and over 100 international currencies. If you are a small brand dropshipping to an international market, then this might be a good service to try out.
That’s despite the higher transaction fees. Bigger brands will find great value with the top tier pricing plan because it’s cheaper than the competition and offers lower transaction fees to boot.
The subscription business model can be one of the most profitable ones. That’s the reason why the top ecommerce brands are already offering a similar service, or are planning to launch one very soon. This has also led to a surge in the number of subscription apps though.
Each one claims to offer a distinct advantage over the competition. How do you select one that works for your business? Here are the parameters that we used to analyze each service.
How easy is it to onboard with the service? How easy is it to migrate to the service from another one? Both of these are common situations that ecommerce merchants encounter. Onboarding has to be made possible with minimal clicks, regardless of whether you have active subscription services or not.
Migration has to be seamless without ever switching off your store, or having to deal with data loss. All the services listed here offer effortless onboarding and migrations. Besides they have excellent customer service ratings too.
This is for ecommerce brands that do not have an active subscription service already and are looking to set a new one up. We hate code as much as you do. So we prioritized the apps which offer a drag and drop interface, or at least copy paste.
One click edits for subscriptions got bonus points. We feel that the very purpose of using specialized software to manage subscriptions is to make it easy.
There are two aspects to a subscription app. One is merchant controls, which determines how much control you have over the tiniest aspect of the service at the backend. The second one is customer control, which allows you to hand over a lot of the management to the customer, rather than overloading your support team.
We prefer apps that let customers decide whether or not to continue the service, add or remove items from the service, or swap it for a new one altogether.
From customizing the look and feel of the customer portal, to integrating APIs to design complex workflows, customization will play an important role in managing subscriptions. All the five apps listed here are extremely easy to use and customize.
Every subscription service will have to deal with churning. You need an app that lets you manage this efficiently without ripping your hair out. Dashboards that display the current churn rate, predictive tools that alert you about trends in churning and features that let you offer incentives and discounts to reduce churn rates, are some of the things we look for.
The best subscription app for Shopify lets merchants tap into this booming business model that maintains a recurrent revenue and reduces spending on acquiring new customers. We hope that this guide and recommendation list allows you to choose one that’s best suited for your business.