According to a report by McKinsey, the subscription e-commerce market has grown by more than 100% over the past five years. That’s also why there is more demand for subscription model apps that can help customer retention.
And one of the most important factors causing this growth is rapid innovation in subscriptions or recurring orders & payments apps and digital capabilities.
Setting up an efficient subscription business model requires a lot of aspects to come together.
That is why you need a subscription tool that is simple to use with plug-and-play capabilities, not a complex system that makes you work your fingers to the bone.
But, there are hundreds of subscription apps for Shopify. So, how do you pick the right one for your business?
We’ll tell you.
18 tips for choosing the best Shopify subscriptions app
1. It should be easy to set up
Whether you’re launching a new subscription business on a new app or migrating from one app to the other, the setup of your subscription app should be easy.
Ever bought an electronic device only to end up struggling with the setup? Eventually, you got so tired that you lost interest in that product.
The same thing applies to subscription business apps. One of the key reasons merchants give for not wanting to use an app for their business is because it is difficult to navigate and confusing to set up.
Here’s what you should consider when choosing the app:
- The app setup should be easy to understand
- It should be simple and have clear instructions
- Merchants should have app setup support and hand holding whenever needed
- The app should have proper documentation, guides, help manuals, tutorials, etc.
2. Proper documentation
Today’s merchants are pretty technology savvy. If your team has proper guides, documentation, how-to material, etc., they may not need to contact customer support. This means your roadblocks and problems will get solved faster.
But for this, your subscription app should have in-depth documentation of every aspect of the app’s functionalities. So that whenever you need help, you can easily refer to the support documents and don’t have to depend on the customer support team.
3. GDPR & data privacy compliant
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation updates data privacy laws from time to time. Besides, every region can have different data privacy laws. Hence, the subscription app you use must follow the most updated and relevant privacy laws.
Hence, always pay special attention to data protection compliance when choosing a subscription app.
4. Seamless migration from other apps
Shopify has defined two models of subscriptions – V1 (old) and V2 (new). Depending on the needs, businesses might want to migrate from V1 to V2. Or, they might want to migrate from one app to the other.
The migration process has to be easy and seamless, without any disturbance to the business operations. Hence, the subscription app you choose should have seamless migration capabilities. Many subscription businesses advertise easy migration with a recurring revenue model.
Apart from the app functions, it’s also important to have competent customer and product support during the time of migration. A bit of hand-holding and expert assistance can help make migrating from one app to the other, or internal migrations, seem easy.
5. Supports 2.0 themes
Shopify has defined two models – V1 and V2. In V1, all functions were in control of the subscription app. This means there were fewer limitations.
However, Shopify has gradually made the shift to V2, and every subscription app has to use this model. V2 has pros and cons. While the app is more secure and safe to use, it has limitations, such as one cannot openly define functionalities until Shopify eliminates those limitations.
This change made by Shopify impacts how well or seamlessly apps can be plugged in. And so, you must ensure that the app you choose fits in and is easy to plug into the Shopify theme.
6. Custom development and custom pricing
Subscription models thrive on uniqueness and customization. Because depending on your products/services and the nature of your business, you may want to customize your subscriptions.
But such customization can be possible only when the subscription app has these customization capabilities. One of the most important aspects of custom subscription apps is custom pricing. The best subscription app for Shopify would provide custom pricing for your subscription plan.
7. Customer support
Businesses choose to invest in a ready subscriptions app rather than building their app because they may not have the required expertise in-house.
They may require help and assistance – before purchasing, during setup, and after installation. And that is why it’s important to choose a subscription app that has efficient customer and product support.
- The customer support team should be easy to reach
- The response time should be fast
- You should be able to discuss your issue with a human, not an automated bot on chat
- It should be easy for you to know how to reach out to the support team
- You should have experts helping you sort your problem
- Customer support should be available 24/7. This is one of the reasons Appstle has become so popular which is always available customer support.
8. Should offer good analytics
Analytics capabilities help you gather data that can give you insights into customer behavior. For your subscription app for Shopify, analytics is important if you want to provide a personalized experience to your customers.
Why you should choose a subscriptions app with analytics capabilities:
- So you can focus on the more strategic business areas without wasting time on integrating technologies.
- Your time to market becomes shorter when you use apps with analytics features.
- Analytics are cohesively embedded across the app.
- It makes business growth faster.
- Analytics capabilities can be aligned with business goals for faster growth.
9. Supports different types of subscriptions
There are different types of subscription models that eCommerce businesses can choose depending on their products and customers’ preference. A good subscription app for Shopify should support all types of subscription models.
Some of the different types of subscription models are:
- Replenishment model: Suitable for items such as groceries, food, medicine, etc. that need to be bought regularly
- Curation model: In this type of subscription, customers receive a box with surprise products.
- Bargain/ access subscription model: In this type of model, customers pay a monthly subscription fee to avail access to new products, products at a bargain or discounted prices, or other members-only deals.
- Fixed subscription model: In this model, retailers offer a fixed set of products for a fixed price for a predefined duration. This type of subscription model is most commonly seen in SaaS (Software as a Service) products.
10. Should enable you to set up multiple perks
Perks are a key element of the subscription business. It is what entices customers, and hence, you should be able to set up different types of perks, which help in customer retention as well.
For example, tiered discounts – either a percentage or a fixed amount. Another example is to set up automated discounts after a certain number of deliveries are done to reward the continued loyalty of your subscribers.
Customers like personalized experiences, including personalized perks. If you want your subscription business to grow fast, you should come up with unique and relevant perks for your customers to retain them for the long run.
11. Should help in inventory forecasting
A recurring payment model isn’t only what businesses want; one of the most critical elements of the subscription business is inventory management. You should be on top of your inventory – what needs to be restocked, what’s getting over, when, how much you should stock up, etc.
To do this manually is almost impossible. Installing a separate app for inventory management into your subscription app can be challenging as integration may not be smooth. It will also be adding to your cost of operations.
Hence, your subscription app must have the capability to help you manage your inventory so that you’re always well stocked and can predict your inventory needs.
12. Dunning management to reduce churn
At times, your customers’ billing payments might not go through or fail due to card expiry or other reasons. In such situations, you might lose the sale or the customer. But not if you have a subscription app with dunning management integrated into it.
As soon as a transaction fails, your app should be able to recapture the transaction by sending the required alerts to the customers and retrying at reasonable intervals. The app should lead the customer to update their payment methodology.
When your subscription app is smart enough to perform dunning management, it can boost customer retention and increase sales.
13. Cancellation management
The average rate of customer retention is just 20%. As consumers have many options of brands to buy from, they easily leave brands and change loyalty. Unless you/ the brand makes an effort to retain them.
One way to do so is to have a subscription app for Shopify that has in-built subscription cancellation management features.
For example, when a customer initiates a subscription cancellation, the app should automatically trigger actions to retain the customer. Prompt questionnaires to find the reasons for cancellation. Automatically offer incentives to retain customers.
Real-time cancellation management actions can significantly improve retention rates.
14. Custom CSS & subscription widget option
The subscription market has fierce competition. Consumers have the option of choosing various brands to sign up for subscriptions. And so, brand experience plays a critical role.
To stand out from the crowd and to offer unique experiences to customers, you will have to ensure high customization – not just functions, perks, and products, but also the visual look and feel of your online store or app.
Hence, your subscription app must provide highly customizable CSS and functionalities from the dashboard. Customization should not feel like a difficult task for your merchants. Rather, it should be enjoyable and easy. And it all boils down to the app’s customization capabilities.
15. Seamless Shopify checkout connect
73% of shoppers abandon carts because of the checkout process. A smooth checkout process is one of the most important factors that impact customer experience.
You’ve worked hard to attract shoppers and lead them to checkout and would not want to lose customers at the end moment. Hence, you must make sure your subscription app for Shopify offers an easy and secure checkout through in-depth Shopify integration.
A seamless checkout process would include a clean checkout page layout, a comprehensive checkout flow that includes a shopping cart, prompts customers to review items, and includes shipping and billing information, payment information, saved card details, and order confirmation.
16. Auto billing for subscriptions
Subscriptions business functions around recurring orders and payments. And hence, your subscriptions app should be able to automatically process bills, invoices, and payments in a hassle-free manner.
Some aspects of a smooth billing process are:
- Customized bills and invoices
- Unique and branded bill template
- Securely saved payment methods
- Securely saved card details
- Securely saved delivery addresses
- Flexibility to change the delivery address, payment method, etc.
17. Personalized email notifications
80% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that offer personalized experiences. Personalized messages and communication play a huge role. When you send personalized notifications, customers find it more relevant to them and don’t ignore it as a generic message sent to everyone.
Subscription businesses can use automated notifications to keep customers informed and engaged. For example, you can send email notifications for order confirmation, shipping status, payment confirmation, failed payments, etc.
18. Custom shipping
Shipping costs and calculations are a key part of subscriptions and online business. Shipping costs may vary based on the weight, order value, size of the products, etc.
To make shipping calculations easier, your app should allow customization. You should be able to create and manage multiple shipping profiles based on key variables such as order size, value, weight, etc., and to reward loyal subscribers (your regular customers) with more shipping benefits.
New to the eCommerce subscription model? Download our free eCommerce subscription ebook here.
Struggling to find the right subscription app?
One of the best Shopify subscription apps is Appstle Subscriptions and Loyalty. The biggest proof of this is the merchant reviews on the app store that talk about its various capabilities – an excellent customer support team, easy migration features, comprehensive functionalities, etc. Whether you’re looking to set up a subscription app afresh or migrate from another app, install Appstle Subscriptions and Loyalty on your Shopify store today. Appstle offers all the solutions you need for a subscription plan at amazing pricing plans.