For entrepreneurs looking to start their own subscription business, picking the right e-commerce platform can be one of the most important (and daunting) decisions.
Of the many choices available, Cratejoy and Shopify are two of the most popular options. Founded in 2006, Shopify is a broad ecommerce platform designed to help small businesses and shops get their products online, while Cratejoy, a newer platform, is designed specifically for subscription box entrepreneurs.
Although both Shopify and Cratejoy share a number of features, each excels at a different type of ecommerce.
When to Choose Shopify
Shopify is ideal if a business sells many different products and is interested in adding a subscription option. A vitamin shop, for example, may sell hundreds of different types of vitamins. The majority of sales are likely one-time purchases, but a subscription purchase option would be really great for customers that buy every few weeks or months. For this use case, Shopify is likely the best platform- it has mature tools for handling one-time sales and a variety of third-party apps that can bolt on the subscription functionality.
When to Choose Cratejoy
Cratejoy is perfect for businesses that plan to primarily sell subscription boxes. For example, a business may want to launch a subscription box for weightlifters that includes vitamins, protein powers, and workout supplies. Although the business may have some one-time sales, the bulk of the business is with subscription sales. For this use case, Cratejoy is likely the better platform choice- it’s designed entirely around subscription commerce and offers additional resources like the Marketplace which help drive sales.
Although Shopify does not support subscription commerce itself, there are a number of third-party apps that enable subscription functionality on the platform.
|Third Party App||Monthly Cost||Trial|
|Paywhirl||Free – $249.00||14 days|
|Charge Rabbit||$75.00+ or %||None|
Although the subscription integrations work well in general, these are some potential issues to consider with third-party apps:
- Many require an offsite checkout
- Shopify itself can’t provide support for the app
- Extra monthly fees
- Third-party app screens don’t always integrate well with Shopify
- Verify that shipping integrations will work
To get a subscription product set up in Shopify, it should be created first as a one-time product. Next, the shop owner will install one of the subscription add-ons. Once the app is installed, additional settings screens will be enabled that allow recurring purchase options to be set for the product.
Once you sign up for the free 14 day trial with Cratejoy, you can set up all your subscriptions and one-time products. No additional apps are needed, Cratejoy supports directly through the platform.
Shopify has different size plans depending on the features you need. Their most basic pricing level is $29/mo. The third-party subscription apps start at an additional $19.99/mo. All the subscription apps require an external payment processor, which is an additional 2%.
Shopify Basic with subscription app: $48.99/mo + 2% per transaction
Cratejoy costs $39/mo and 1.25% + 10¢ per transaction.
Both platforms also have credit card transaction fees of 2.9% + 30¢ with a payment processor like Stripe.
Other Items to Consider
Both platforms support international sales, sales tax collection, and provide tools for outsourced fulfillment. Each platform has free themes for launching a business site quickly, and a developer can further customize the look. Both also offer integrations for common third-party services like MailChimp and ShipStation.
If a business requires really specialized integrations, it would be good to do more research to find out if it can be supported through each platform.
For businesses that have a large product inventory and want to add specific product subscription, Shopify is likely the better choice. For businesses that want to launch a subscription box, Cratejoy is the way to go- the community, analytics, platform, and marketplace can’t be beat.
Cratejoy is an all in one subscription commerce platform that includes everything you need to start your own subscription commerce business online. Try it free for 14 days.