Adding Subscriptions to Your Ecommerce Store
Subscription services are everywhere today — proliferating into new industries, particularly consumable products like coffee, dinners, laundry detergent, and even dog poop bags.
Customers love using subscription services because they offer convenience, value, and consistency (even the consistency of trying something new—like Ipsy’s monthly personalized Glam bags of makeup samples).
Businesses love subscriptions for the customer retention, recurring revenue streams, and other surprising benefits.
Types of Subscriptions
Subscription services typically fall into one (sometimes two) of these categories:
- Replenishment / auto-ship subscriptions provide auto-ship deliveries of consumable products to customers on a regular schedule. Examples: vitamins, coffee, dog food.
- Curated box subscriptions group collections of products for customers based on their unique needs and preferences. Examples: Grove Collaborative, Blue Apron.
- Access subscriptions give access to the company's products (often discounted) through a membership. Example: Lynda.com, Wall Street Journal.
Mapping the customer paths and experience is the key to understanding your online subscription business.
Configure your Magento storefront for subscriptions based on the technology you’ve chosen.
Integrate a subscription product or custom workflow.
Planning Your Subscription
We'll get to know the ins and outs of your subscription business model as part of this process, including:
- What's your subscription customer journey and key touch points?
- Will your subscription be for a single item or a curated box?
- How will you be marketing subscriptions? Is there a cost savings based on the number of items? Trial sizes? First time discounts? A discount for converting a single purchase to a subscription?
- Will you need a “mixed cart,” meaning some one-time purchases and some subscriptions?
- Will the customer be able to customize their box?
- Can items be set to different replenishment frequencies?
- How will your fulfillment warehouse handle subscription orders?
Choosing the Right Technology
SaaS Subscription Services
There are a variety of Software as a Service (SaaS) subscription services available on the market. Examples include Recurly, Subscribe Pro, ReCharge, Chargebee, Chargify, and Fuse. These dedicated applications come with a host of tools for subscription management to handle the automation of recurring transactions and payment methods that expire or go bad, to name a few.
One of the main benefits of using an external SaaS-based option is that it offloads the heavy lifting and security concerns to the service provider, so there is very little that needs to be added to the Magento installation. This helps your website perform reliably, especially during periods with heavy site traffic.
Native Magento Subscription Extensions
Unlike SaaS options, native Magento implementations store all subscription related data within the same database as the core Magento installation. The recurring payments are triggered on a schedule inside your server rather than an external service.
While there are multiple modules that offer recurring payments and subscriptions in Magento, we prefer extensions that offer a flexible code base if we need to customize it for your business.
There are subscription options from many of the payment gateway service providers including PayPal, Apple Pay, Stripe, Braintree, and others. While they do offer an implementation of their built-in subscription model, they don’t have quite as many features as the native Magento offerings or full SaaS implementation.
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