In 2021, ecommerce subscription software is an emerging business model used by many merchants in the commerce sector. We all know that retaining customers long-term is extremely important for the future of an online store, and the best way to make this happen is by setting up effective subscriptions which allow the customer to make recurring purchases with ease.
However, since Shopify does not store payment information, recurring customers will need to come back onto your site and place their orders again and again. Over time, even the most satisfied of customers may occasionally forget to place an order, which unfortunately means missed sales for your business.
Taking the need to 'remember' away from the customer will ultimately make their experience of shopping with you easier. Think of it this way, if you were happy with a product/ service and wanted to make a repeat purchase, would you rather have to remember to make that order time and time again or have an automatic payment set up for you? We know what we would choose.
With the help of subscriptions, you will be able to achieve recurring sales while your customers receive the products that they love regularly. In light of this, today's article is going to be a walkthrough of our favourite ecommerce subscription software apps known as Bold and ReCharge, which can be found in Shopify - one of the best ecommerce software platforms on the web.
The Role of Subscriptions & Recurring Orders
Before we dive into how to implement recurring orders into your store, we must address the role that subscriptions and recurring orders will play when it comes to bumping your store's customer retention and lifetime value KPIs. Alongside this, the likelihood that your ecommerce store will achieve high revenue and predictable income will increase significantly.
Implementing Recurring Orders
As we will discuss in further detail throughout this article, you can add product subscriptions through third-party apps known as Bold and ReCharge. These two apps will allow you to add subscription functionality to new products effortlessly. This will then be displayed on your product page, and you will be able to give customers the options you want in terms of active discounts for subscribing, delivery frequency and more. So, without further ado, let’s jump on into the Shopify details:
A recent release for Shopify is native subscriptions, however, these will not come ready-assembled for you as a Shopify store owner. Therefore, to utilise native subscriptions soundly within your ecommerce store, it is likely that you will require custom work from a Shopify developer, who will then implement a custom app into the foundations of your Shopify store.
So, how does it work? The native subscription on Shopify works by using the Shopify Subscription API. To sell subscriptions on Shopify, you will first need to create a Shopify store. Sounds simple enough right? To begin, you will have a 14-day free trial. After which, you will have to select a Premium plan. Shopify has three different pricing options for you to choose from; these are known as; Basic, Standard and Advanced.
Then, you will need to select and install a subscription app. This will only take a few clicks for you to complete so don't worry if you don't have what we call a "tech-head", because the process is super simple.
Once you're set up on Shopify, your ecommerce store will then be ready to sell any subscription products or services of your choosing via Bold or ReCharge. Both apps will handily allow you to create a preset, subscription-box style package. This means that you can give your customers the freedom to create their recurring orders out of the individual items within your Shopify store.
At this point, customers will be able to add the items that they would like to subscribe to into their shopping basket. To make this possible, you must first enable an item for recurring payment/ subscription. Website visitors browsing your Shopify store will then be able to checkout. Subscription orders will then process automatically at the set date and time.
The customer will then be charged, and the order will be added to your recurring orders stored in Shopify. I need the app to use the default Shopify checkout, however, both apps are extremely secure and will pay you to customise the appearance of your checkout flow. This will be an ideal feature for you to utilise so that the checkout flow matches your site design and branding by CSS.
These intervals can then be set for the duration that you would like such as weekly, monthly or quarterly. After such an introduction to your ecommerce subscription software of choice.
ReCharge & Bold: The Differences
Both ReCharge and Bold will allow you to create recurring purchases with Shopify, but even though the two apps are very alike, they do have some differences. Recurring Orders by Bold is a fantastic application for subscriptions and recurring payments, but it is one of many great apps that Bold has created. In other words, Bold has its fingers in many pies and owns several apps that they update and support on Shopify as a result.
ReCharge on the other hand maintains one key focus. Their core aim is to create the best Shopify subscriptions and recurring billing app on the Shopify platform, which is why they are the only Shopify Plus-approved platform for recurring billing. In layman's terms, ReCharge has full focus from the team and this is where the differences stem from.
Both apps are stronger in areas that outshine each other and in our opinion, there is not a clear-cut winner as the best recurring billing app on Shopify, but you may feel differently. So, let's dive into how these apps are different from one another and which one would be best for your Shopify store:
When it comes to Bold as a company, it is fair to say that they do not relax when it comes to pushing their app game. Bold Subscriptions are an official ecommerce subscription software solution for Shopify merchants who are selling recurring orders and subscription boxes. By using this app, you will be able to create a unique subscription that renews payment at the moment you’ve chosen.
Currently, 17 highly-rated apps can be utilised across the Shopify platform by merchants. A number of these applications are free, whereas others are paid. Some of these applications interconnect with one another to share information and increase their overall usefulness, which is pretty cool.
Out of the two applications that we are discussing here in today's article, Bold is the better app for handling gift subscriptions. Currently, ReCharge requires developer time and a custom solution to enable gifting subscriptions that run correctly, however, Bold will do this right out of the box for you without any outside help from a developer.
It is also important for us to mention that Bold has a pretty incomprehensive inbuilt analytics setup. This means that other tools are not necessary. If you do not wish to integrate an outside tool to process and view recurring analytics.
There is however one thing that Bold does offer which ReCharge does not, so it is worth mentioning here and that is the ability to add one-off products to a subscription-based order. Bold also offers Shopify store owners the ability to customise their customer portal. This can be achieved without specialised tools such as the ReCharge Theme Engine. You can make the changes that you need to with CSS.
Bold offers a variety of features on Shopify that will enable you to manage your subscription and business performance. We may be a little biased, but we think that Shopify is one of the best ecommerce software platforms that there is. So, let's take a quick look at the key features below:
Firstly, you will be able to view forecasts, revenue and inventory with automated projections.
You will also be able to access analytics and powerful reporting tools, alongside the ability to send automated emails to yourself, which will alert you of a low store inventory.
You will even be able to connect with payment gateways for auto-payment renewals and that's just the beginning.
With Bold Subscriptions, you are likely to reduce the number of customers who will unsubscribe from their subscriptions with custom cancellation flows, by offering an incentive or an alternative for customers who wish to cancel their subscriptions.
If that wasn't enough, Bold also integrates with other apps in its ecosystem to enhance your subscription-based service. Similarly to other Shopify apps, you can integrate Bold Subscriptions into your Shopify store within just a few clicks!
If full control over language and styling of product pages are what you're after, then Bold is the solution for you.
Note 📝 Bold Subscriptions have two Premium plans these are known as; Essentials and Advanced.
Similarly to Bold Subscriptions, subscriptions by ReCharge are also exceedingly popular for Shopify store owners to implement due to their comprehensive solution characteristics. As we mentioned before, ReCharge is the team's sole focus and because of this, they have developed several features around maximising the effectiveness of adding recurring subscriptions to online Shopify stores.
However, ReCharge is well aware that its app has room for improvement. So, when merchants need to add functionality to other areas of their ecommerce website, it’s handy to know that ReCharge works well with other Shopify approved apps when creating deep and high-functioning integrations.
When ReCharge integrates with another app to provide more functionality, they work to ensure that the connection is deep and useful. This means that their time and focus is geared towards supporting the core ReCharge product as opposed to expanding the number of features related to recurring billing:
Workflows are ReCharge's built-in engine which uses multiple endpoints around the app. With this app, you can alter the actions that will allow you to offer free trials and samples, discounts on the first or repeat orders. Should you choose to, you can even guide customers into paid subscriptions at the end of their free trial.
Dunning is the process of updating payment methods, re-attempting failed charges and sending automated emails as a reminder to subscribers with cards that will soon expire. It may not be typically thought of as a solution to reducing churn, but Dunning services help retain customers, as these customers would have been unlikely to cancel otherwise if it were not for their expiring card. Paired with other ReCharge retention features, this can help to reduce churn as a built-in feature.
ReCharge API will allow developers (or a ReCharge certified partner) to be able to essentially create anything that you would like. The API exists purely to break down and rebuild every single aspect of the customer's journey.
As opposed to having to rely on CSS for changes to the customer portal the ReCharge Theme Engine will allow you to completely customise your portal.
With the Theme Engine, the look and feel of the customer portal can be uniquely tailored to any Shopify store. This means that the branding of your business can be synchronised with your online ecommerce store.
Within the Standard plan, ReCharge is free to use to a certain extent however once the threshold has been crossed, ReCharge has a base cost per month alongside a 1% fee on all transactions charged during the checkout process (excluding shipping fees and taxes).
ReCharge also applies a subscription rule to an entire product by default as well as its variants. So, if you are leaning towards a bespoke build for your Shopify store, you may need support from a Karmoon developer.
ReCharge enables its customers to manage their subscriptions whilst allowing merchants to control every single aspect of their subscription product offering.
Merchant focus should be on the full customisation of the subscription experience for the customer, by utilising advanced features such as; upsells, the Theme Engine (which we will talk about a little more in the next section), and enhanced analytics. With ReCharge, you can do this soundly.
Alongside this, ReCharge will allow you to access; the ReCharge API, Webhooks and custom workflows that will solve complex subscription needs for your website visitors.
Essentially with the ReCharge API, developers will be able to create anything that you would like. So, there's a little food for thought. If you are already running a subscription-based business on another ecommerce platform, you can easily switch to Shopify and use ReCharge to sell and manage your subscription data, because anything is possible.
So, that's the down-low on the Bold and ReCharge ecommerce subscription software choices with Shopify and even though native subscription is a new release, we estimate that this fundamental feature will take its place on the throne shortly. For further help and assistance with setting up subscriptions on your ecommerce Shopify store please visit help.shopify.com.
If you’re actively looking to work with a Shopify agency designer or developer to assist you with your business, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch to get started!