Comparing Shopify Subscription Apps

May 11, 2021
|
Emmanuel Umukoro

Recurring charges are not handled by Shopify or Shopify Plus as part of their core offering. So, how do you make your store's subscription business model work? You make use of an app. In this article, we will compare and contrast the three most common subscription and recurring billing apps in the Shopify ecosystem.


It's wonderful when someone hands you their credit card and says, "Just keep sending me your products every month. You will continue to charge me until I tell you to stop." It's satisfying when people like what you're selling. When people have that much confidence in your business, it's very reassuring.


Apart from the fact that this customer loyalty makes us feel good, we are all in business to make money. And the most valuable customers are those that buy regularly. Customer lifetime value is one of the metrics we use for a reason. The more time we spend with a customer, the more important the customer becomes. The customer becomes a source of referrals and a data point that shows us what we're doing right.

Revenue time graph - ecommerce subscription apps comparison
Increase in customer retention over time results in increase in revenue


We all know how necessary it is to keep customers for the longest time possible, but what is the best way to do it?

Setting consumers up to buy repeatedly from the beginning of their consumer lifetime is one of the most successful methods. Many of the causes for churn and attrition in the e-commerce business model are eliminated with subscriptions and recurring transactions.

Subscription e-commerce with Shopify

The issue with creating repeat customers in a Shopify store is that Shopify does not store payment details (for security reasons). As a result, you must persuade customers to return to the store to place orders again. Even the most satisfied customers eventually drop out because life gets busy or they simply forget.


However, there is something you can do to reduce churn and make it easier for consumers to continue buying from you regularly: make it ridiculously simple for them to subscribe. It's healthier for both you and them. You'll get recurring sales. They get the things they want when they want them, with the least amount of hassle possible.

Allow customers to enter their credit card details, choose what they want and how often they want it, and then go about their business.

Of the many Shopify applications that can help you make the dream a reality, we'll focus on the three that do it best: Subscriptions by ReCharge, Bold Subscriptions, and Chargezen. All three, Chargezen, ReCharge, and Bold enable your store to do the same thing: build repeat orders and subscriptions that increase customer satisfaction and lifetime value KPIs. You'll also see an increase in sales and a more stable cash flow for your business.

How they are alike

1. They allow your customers to manage their subscription through a portal

All three apps enable you and your customers to track and alter orders in addition to creating and storing them. The customer portal helps them to manage their subscription once they've created an account, reducing the need for customer support so you can have more time to focus on your business growth.

All three apps give your customers a great deal of leverage over their recurring purchases:

• Edit delivery dates

• Skip a single delivery

• View past orders

• View future delivery schedules

• Payment information

• Shipping information

• Remove products

• Add new products

• Switch products

• Change quantities

• Cancel subscription

• Change delivery frequency


All three apps allow you to customize the appearance of your portal. It can be matched to your visual identity. The amount of control and how you make adjustments differs somewhat between the three apps, but Chargezen has more flexibility than you would think.


2. They enable you to add recurring orders to your Shopify store

This is the part that interacts with customers. Via the third-party app and Shopify, you can add a product to a subscription.


Chargezen, Bold, and ReCharge make it simple and easy to add subscription features to new products. This appears on your product page, and you can offer customers the subscription discounts, delivery pace, and other choices you want.


All three apps allow you to build subscription-box-style packages and presets. With these apps, you may also allow customers to make their recurring orders from some of your store's individual products. You can set any of these to any interval you like, such as weekly, monthly, quarterly, and so on.


Customers will add the products they want to subscribe to their cart, that is if you've made them available for recurring orders and then go through the checkout process as if it were a one-time purchase. Following checkout, those orders will be processed automatically at the specified date and time, charge to the customer, and be added to your Shopify orders as recurring orders.


ReCharge and Bold do not use Shopify’s default checkout like Chargezen do to guarantee safety and security, but all three are safe and stable. In addition, Chargezen uses CSS to customize the appearance of your checkout flow to fit your site's design and branding - which should have been another restriction imposed by Shopify's API and checkout.


3. Extensive features set

The three solutions share a large number of features in common. These feature sets are one of the reasons they are the top options for recurring billing.

• Swap subscription for one product to another product without canceling and reordering

• Shipping and taxes pulled from the Shopify app so they are real-time accurate

• Control over checkout and client portal appearance

• Delivery frequency control

• Create different types of subscription products- Single item, multiple items, subscription boxes, "build-your-own" subscription boxes, mystery boxes, kits, etc. For the most part, if you can imagine it, you can offer it to customers.

• Customer control through login-gated portals

• Mixed cart subscriptions/one-time purchase checkouts

• Ability to use existing customer account on your Shopify store during checkout

• Synchronizing inventory with Shopify

• Cancellation prevention flows- Ask why customers are leaving, incentivize them to stay

What differentiates the three?

These three apps work with Shopify to make recurring transactions, but they have some variations.

Bold has built some of the best Shopify applications available. They specialize in developing high-quality Shopify applications. Their software ecosystem, when used together, can provide a lot of the features you need to transform a Shopify platform into a powerhouse.

That is to say, Recurring Orders is a fantastic app, but it is only one of many apps that Bold develops, updates, and supports. Although their multiple solutions sound good, their shared effort into several apps might reduce work output or focus on recurring billing. 


Chargezen on the other hand has one goal in mind: to create the best Shopify subscriptions app for recurring billing. That's why they are the recurring billing platform accepted by Shopify as well as Shopify Plus.


Recurring billing is what Chargezen employees do every day when they come to work.

It's the only app they create, maintain, and support: recurring billing has its complete focus. And that is where the first distinction is.


And ReCharge has a similar focus on recurring billing just like Chargezen.


There are several places where one shines more than the other, and that’s why it’s difficult to define a winner in the category of "Best recurring billing app for Shopify", but the variation in each app can help you decide which one of them is best for your business.


For the purpose of this article, let's take a look at how Chargezen and Bold subscriptions vary and which one could be the best fit for you.

Chargezen - The most comprehensive subscription management solution

Recurring billing seems to be a dull subject before you know how lucrative it can be. Shopify stores can use Chargezen to easily incorporate the insanely lucrative concept into their business model. Since it's their sole focus, they've created several features aimed at making adding subscriptions to your store as efficient as possible.


Chargezen understands that they do not develop many apps right out of the box but they are specialists in recurring billing. That’s why Chargezen collaborates with other approved apps to create deep and high-functioning integrations when merchants need additional functionality.


When Chargezen connects with another app to add features, they make sure the connection is deep and useful, instead of trying to half-ass their version of it like some subscription apps do.  It's a matter of recognizing your strengths and sticking to them.

This mindset ensures they spend more of their time developing and promoting the core Chargezen product and expanding the number of recurring billing features.

Dunning management

Dunning is the process of upgrading payment methods, retrying failed payments, and sending reminder emails to subscribers that have cards that are about to expire. Although dunning services aren't usually thought of like a big way to minimize churn, they do help keep customers since these users aren't typically those who would cancel otherwise. They would still be customers if they hadn't let their card expire. They can help minimize churn as a built-in feature when combined with other Chargezen retention features.

Automation

Workflow is Chargezen's built-in "if this, then that" engine. Using multiple endpoints around the app, you can automate actions that will allow you to offer free trials and samples, discount the first or repeat orders, or roll customers into paid subscriptions at the end of a free trial.

App integration

Chargezen understands its position in the Shopify ecosystem: recurring billing, so Chargezen integrates with a wide range of other providers and Shopify applications to take advantage of the other top services. Chargezen integrates with most of the apps you’re using and is constantly raising the bar.


Check out their integrations help guide if you want to learn more about how Chargezen works or to get a better understanding of how they manage integrations.


To strengthen Chargezen’s built-in analytics, there are already several analytics integrations in place available for free.

Payment Gateways

The number of payment gateways that you can use with Chargezen is one of its strengths. Chargezen uses authorize.net, Paypal express, and all Shopify payments. 


This means with Chargezn, you don't have to use the same payment gateway for Shopify and subscriptions, which gives you some flexibility in how you handle payment.

Bold

When it comes to Shopify apps, Bold is also a force to be reckoned with especially since they provide several apps for Shopify stores. While a few apps are free, some are paid, and most interconnect to share information and improve their overall usefulness.


So if you don’t have other apps you want to integrate with, then Bold is your first choice. However, most merchants prefer to keep their options open for integrations and for future development of your store.


Bold is great at handling gift subscriptions and offers a wide array of options for payment gateway, Because you are limited in how much you can change using CSS, Bold's customer portal is less customizable as a result, but it will be easier if you identify people who can assist you, but the adjustments you can do will still be limited.

Consider the following before you choose which app fits your business

You should use Bold subscription:

  • If you have to use a payment gateway that Shopify doesn't have
  • If recurring orders are not a major part of your business model
  • If you prefer to have your recurring analytics built into one app instead of integrated with multiple analytics options
  • If you want to add a subscribe and save general feature set, instead of going deeply in for recurring billing.

You should use Chargezen:

  • If recurring orders are important in your business model or business goal.
  • If you want to decrease churn 
  • If you want to save your business 50% in third-party app spent and an overage charge
  • If you want free 24/7 multi-lingual service support and deep integration with 3rd-party APIs for analytics, automation, and other purposes.
  • If you want military-grade security; and wicked fast servers that support your needs with dedicated Kubernetes server clusters that handle unexpected load spikes without ruffling a feather.
  • If you want to get a quick snapshot of your business 24/7; send invoices; respond to customer queries or get alerts all on your iPhone and Android on the go.


Whether it be for a new business or an existing business looking to scale, adding a subscription option to your existing product offers is a wonderful place to start if you want to increase your sales. It promises long-term customer connections and recurrent orders that are beneficial to your business health.


If that's what you're looking for, we can assist you with putting subscriptions and recurring payments to work for your Shopify store.  Simply reach out to the Chargezen support team and get started or write me at success@trychargezen.com.


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