AppstleSM, Inc., a Silicon Valley-based e-commerce solutions provider focused on the customer loyalty/retention and wallet share spaces, has 2 top apps on Shopify and Shopify Plus, at the time of writing this article. They are Appstle Subscriptions (# 1 in Shopify subscriptions category) and Appstle Memberships (# 1 in Memberships and Loyalty category).
While most of Appstle’s customers, are merchants who are adopting a recurring revenue/subscriptions business model, and/or providing store memberships for the first time (which is not surprising, given the fact that subscriptions and memberships spaces are still relatively new, and growing at close to 100% y-o-y CAGR), about 25% of our merchants are merchants who are migrating from other competition apps that have been around for many years.
The reasons for this migration are several, and range from the strong, robust, and highly customizable functionalities that Appstle provides, to the predictable flat rate pricing, and dependable 24x7x365 support from highly trained engineers.
In this article, we will dive deep into the dedicated, hands-on, and end-to-end migration support that Appstle team provides for all its products.
2. Equal Focus on Migration (along with fresh-start merchants)
As mentioned earlier, close to a quarter of our existing merchant base of ~7000 merchants as on May 2022 (the time of writing this article) are merchants who had been using other competition tools such as Recharge and Bold, and decided to switch to Appstle for specific reasons.
What this meant for Appstle was that, alongside equipping and preparing merchants who are new to the subscriptions and memberships spaces with detailed Helpdocs, tutorials, and industry guides, we also focused on providing a strong transition or migration, and related on-boarding experience. We setup a robust system to transfer existing recurring orders, and subscribers or members data from the competition tool to Appstle. We ensured this was done in an error-free manner, so that there is zero friction to the merchants and their end-customers.
To achieve this, we at Appstle invested in, and organically grew a dedicated migration team made up of highly trained engineers and merchant success managers. Our internal system, setup and migration process is extremely granular, and is specific to each competition app, from which the merchants are transferring from, and the version (V1 or V2) the merchant’s store is currently in.
This highly customized and granular process ensures an unmatched end-to-end rigor, and zero end-customer friction.
3. High Level Process
The critical path to a smooth and successful migration is data! Data of existing subscription contracts, will be passed on from the competition app to Appstle, for Appstle to manage, post the transfer.
The data we require for a successful migration can divided into two parts (depending upon the Shopify approved payment gateway that is linked to charge your customers):
- General information of your subscription customers such as their name, email address, shipping address, product(s) they have subscribed to, etc. This data set will be available with the competition subscription app the merchant is transferring from.
- Payment information. Here, at the outset, we would like to state that Appstle (both Appstle Subscriptions and Appstle Memberships), does not store any payment information within itself, or charge the customers directly. The check-out and billing are done with seamless and in-depth integration with Shopify Checkout. So, when we say payment information as a data required for migration, it refers to the encrypted IDs stored by the linked gateway.
To explain further, let’s say Stripe is the payment gateway that store X uses for subscriptions. Stripe will store the customers’ payment information in an encrypted ID form. It is these encrypted IDs that Appstle will require. The IDs can be obtained from the linked payment gateway (Stripe, PayPal etc) that your store uses.
When we have both of the data-sets, we will then feed them into our internal migration utility system, which will then neatly transfer the subscription contracts on the basis of the information provided. We then do a thorough comb of the code, to ensure that there is no lingering code from the previous app, to ensure that the merchant is able to benefit from the rich functionalities of Appstle Subscriptions, without any hindrance.
Whenever we see missing data fields (we see them often), our dedicated migration team will one-on-one coordinate with your store, and work with you on targeted next steps to address the missing fields.
The migration process explained above has been carefully crafted based on the requirement and algorithms defined by the Shopify contract migration document.
4. Key Migrations (Subscriptions or recurring payments)
Some of the most popular subscription apps from which merchants are looking to migrate to us are:
- ReCharge: Given that a significant amount of our migration requests come from existing Recharge customers, we developed a separate and comprehensive workflow for the same. Merchants could either provide us with the 2 sets of data mentioned earlier, in the previous section, or simply provide us (temporary) access to their Shopify store. Our migration team will end-to-end complete the migration for them, starting from identifying and pulling the right data, and setting up their subscriptions or memberships with Appstle Inc.
- Bold Subscriptions: Given that Bold is one of the oldest subscription apps on Shopify, the majority of migration requests that we get are from merchants who currently use Bold Subscriptions. To obtain the required data, merchants can go in the Exports or Subscriptions section of the app API. We also provide sample files to the merchants, to guide them through the exact information they have to pull from the app.
- Seal: To migrate from Seal subscriptions, we recommend merchants to go into the subscriptions section to run the export of the subscriptions data required for migration. This is a pretty straight forward process. However, our team of experts will be available (24x7x365) to guide you, in case of any questions or hurdles.
- Paywhirl: Similar to migrations from Seal, for PayWhirl subscriptions, we recommend merchants to go into the subscriptions section to run the export of the subscriptions data required for migration. This is a pretty straightforward process. However, our team of experts will be available (24x7x365) to guide you, in case of any questions or hurdles.
5. Key Learnings
Recommendations for the merchants:
Based on the hundreds of migrations we have done so far, our recommendations to merchants, are the following:
- When to start the migration?
We recommend starting the migration at least 5 days before the next round of subscription tool payments to your existing subscription app. For example, if your store gets billed by Shopify for your subscription app on 15th of every month, we suggest starting the migration process by the 10th. The reason for this is that our migration process includes thorough checks and testings to ensure there is no discrepancy on the migrated contracts.
- When to cancel / uninstall the previous subscription app?
Once the contracts are migrated and all subscriptions are tested for accuracy, our team will be letting you know that the migration is complete. After this, you are good to uninstall your old subscriptions app.
- How to position the migration to end-customers?
The migration to Appstle does not expose your end customers to any major changes (except for a smoother UI and overall experience!), as all changes are done at the back-end. However, some customers may notice:
-a different powered by logo, in their automated emails (this will not be applicable to you, if you use your own Email Domain)
-a different customer portal user-interface (UI) through which their subscriptions are getting managed.
On both these fronts, Appstle Subscriptions has established itself as the industry’s best – both in terms of providing seamless, powerful, and automated emails, AND in terms of a stellar user interface. So, if required, you could send an email notification to your subscribers intimating an update to your store’s settings. However, most of our merchants skip this, and let their customers be pleasantly surprised.
Appstle Subscriptions has since its launch, migrated ‘00s of merchants from other e-commerce platforms, and other competing subscriptions apps on Shopify (notably Bold, ReCharge, Paywhirl and Seal Subscriptions).
Our key learning from this experience, is the benefit of setting up dedicated workflows for each of these competition apps. We have defined comprehensive internal flows and APIs. We have also dedicatedly trained our merchant success team of engineers on migration, instead of categorizing it as a peripheral process.
6. Merchant Impact
Setting up the rigorous systems & processes explained above, and the dedicated team for migration, that together helped us hit a zero error ‘migration to Appstle’, was not an easy task. But, it definitely paid off!!
Merchant testimonials that attest to the smooth migration experience, and the post migration success, including merchants’ revenue and bottom line benefits, have been great rewards for us.
Please find below a few such testimonials.
In Summary, if we had to reflect back on why we, at Appstle, decided to lay tremendous focus on migration or transfer from competition apps, starting from establishing rigorous systems and processes, to growing a dedicated team of migration experts, the answer is simple! Demand! I had mentioned earlier, in another article on Appstle’s growth, that we operate on a lean model and a lot of our success is attributed to listening to our merchants and letting them subtly lead our product and operational pipeline. Migration is no different!