Cratejoy vs. Subbly | Which Subscription Box Platform Is the Best?

If you’re thinking of starting a subscription box, chances are you’ve looked at a few different platform options for running your business. And while there are dozens of choices from an E-Commerce perspective, few solutions are built specifically with subscription boxes in mind. Such is not the case with Cratejoy and Subbly.

1 Business Model, 2 Possible Solutions

Subbly and Cratejoy are both all-in-one solutions for launching and running a subscription box business. Each platform offers tools and features that keep subscription-specific pain points like billing, shipping, and customer management top of mind.

In the spirit of transparency, we can say that when it comes down to functionality, both platforms are equipped to help a new or pre-existing business launch or scale their subscription box.

We realize writing a review from a competitor perspective is inherently biased, but we hope that by walking you through the differences between Cratejoy and Subbly, our subscription box platform stands out as the obvious choice.

So, to help you choose, we’ll dive into what’s truly different about each platform, rather than run you through the gamut of similar features that Cratejoy and Subbly offer. We truly believe Cratejoy is the best solution for most subscription box owners and here’s why:

Cratejoy VS Subbly: Key Differences

This review will cover:

  1. Pricing
  2. Customer Acquisition Channels
  3. Payment Options
  4. Website Builders
  5. Shipping Cycle Options
  6. Support
  7. Partnerships

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.


1. Pricing

Cratejoy: $39/mo + transaction fees

Cratejoy offers one-tier pricing for all merchants, regardless of size or growth stage. That means every tool on our platform is available to merchants for the flat fee of $39/mo with no restrictions. Depending on where your sales originate, transaction fees will differ as follows:

Storefront transaction fees: 1.25% + $0.10 per transaction (plus payment processor fees)
Marketplace transactions fees: 11.25% + $0.10 per transaction (plus payment processor fees)

Why are marketplace transactions an additional 10%? All marketplaces are subject to transaction or referral fees. Whether you’re listing on Etsy (5%), Amazon (6-20%), or the Cratejoy Marketplace, any order made on a third party marketplace will be subject to that site’s fee structure; in this case, a recurring 10% of the total order value.

Is it worth it? In addition to the millions of site visitors Cratejoy’s Marketplace receives every month, Cratejoy has an in-house marketing team dedicated to getting marketplace merchants as many subscribers as possible. Whether through Facebook retargeting, PR placements, blog and email inclusion, or influencer marketing, that 10% can be thought of as a zero-risk contribution to a merchant’s customer acquisition – i.e., if you don’t get any sales, you pay no fee.

▷ For more info on Cratejoy’s monthly fee structure, check out our pricing page.

Subbly: $39/mo – $189/mo + transaction fees

Subbly offers 3 pricing levels depending on the stage of your business: Launch, Grow, and Scale. Each tier comes with varying levels of tool restriction, support limitations, and transaction fees.

Currently, Subbly site visitors only get visibility into the Launch pricing structure and must create an account to see the full pricing breakdown. To save you an extra step, we created an account to get the full scoop on pricing:

Launch – $29/mo (paid annually upfront) or $39/mo (paid monthly) + 1% transaction fees
Grow – $79/mo + 1% transaction fees
Scale – $189/mo + 0.5% transaction fees

For the purpose of feature comparison, a merchant would need to pay at the $189/mo “Scale” level to have most of the same features they’d find on Cratejoy, including phone consultation, advanced analytics, email template editing, and more.

Food for thought: at the $39/mo level, Subbly users will pay more for their platform and transaction fees after reaching between 1 and 4 subscribers (depending on box price). From there, merchants are losing money. If you plan to scale your business past this subscriber count, Cratejoy is the more cost-effective choice.


 

2. Customer Acquisition Channels

Cratejoy: Subscription Box Marketplace and in-house marketing team

As mentioned in our pricing comparison, Cratejoy is also home to the Cratejoy Marketplace where more than 1500 subscription boxes have listed their products and collectively found more than a million subscribers to date.

Cratejoy’s in-house marketing team is fully dedicated to getting marketplace merchants as many quality subscribers as possible, and as such, works on:

  • PR placements with publications like Buzzfeed, Marie Claire, and Good Housekeeping
  • Facebook and Instagram prospecting and retargeting ads
  • Podcast and Radio advertising with companies like Sirius XM
  • Transit Advertising on Subways and in Airports
  • Email promotion to our newsletter subscribers
  • Blog and collection inclusion in onsite content
  • Podcast and YouTube marketing with personalities like Jillian Michaels and Anna Brisbin
  • TV spots with programs like Good Morning America
In 30 days, 90% of this merchant’s revenue came from the Cratejoy Marketplace

Subbly: No marketplace, no subscriber-focused marketing

Currently, Subbly does not offer any marketing assistance or merchant acquisition channels to help grow your business. Subbly merchants only get access to the platform tools and must build a subscriber based through their own marketing efforts.


 

3. Payment Options

Cratejoy: 3 payment processors + PayPal Checkout

Both Cratejoy and Subbly recommend Stripe as the preferred payment processor, which currently supports payment in 25 countries (see the full list here).

In addition to Stripe, Cratejoy also supports:

  • Authorize.net (available in up to 190 countries for pro version)
  • Braintree (available in 45 countries)
  • PayPal Checkout (Not a standalone processor, but can be connected to one of the 3 payment options above to allow checkouts from a PayPal account)

▷Cratejoy also offers the only recurring billing platform with a 100% in-portal PayPal integration. This means that a subscriber can manage 100% of their transaction on a merchant’s storefront without ever having to log in to Paypal.com

Food for thought: Cratejoy supports fraud protection. Our risk analysis feature monitors for high-risk customers, and flags them before you carry out their transaction. If you do end up fulfilling a fraudulent order, you can immediately refund them and cancel the order to avoid chargebacks.

Subbly: 1 payment processor and does not support PayPal

Subbly currently only connects to Stripe for payment processing. If you are not located in any of the following countries, Subbly will not work for you:

PayPal: Currently not supported by Subbly as a payment processor integration, meaning your subscribers will not be able to pay with their PayPal account.


 

4. Website Builder

Subbly and Cratejoy offer subscription box website builders that can be used by non-coders and developers alike. With a custom domain and subscription-focused checkout, both platforms are designed to make launching your store an easy, customizable experience. Here’s what’s different:

Cratejoy: 13 themes, responsive design, custom checkout, and detailed analytics 

  • Theme library – Cratejoy offers 12 unique subscription box website themes and one prelaunch theme. The prelaunch theme is designed for merchants who want to do an email gathering campaign before fully launching their subscription box and is an alternative to 3rd party landing page sites like Launch Rock, Carrd, and Kickoff Labs.
  • Fully responsive designs – All of Cratejoy’s website themes have been optimized for desktop and mobile use. With fully responsive designs, your site will look great no matter what size screen your visitors are using. Such is not the case with Subbly’s theme library [see more below].
  • SSL encryption and custom domain support – Cratejoy supports your custom domain throughout the entirety of the checkout process. On Subbly, subscribers who checkout on your storefront will ultimately be redirected from yourcustomdomain.com -> subbly.com/cart, breaking up the branded checkout experience and potentially confusing and losing you subscribers.
  • Traffic report – Cratejoy’s built in traffic report not only shows merchants where their customers are coming from, but also offers conversion funnel metrics to see which channels are top performing and which need optimization.

▷ Learn more about installing and customizing a subscription box website on Cratejoy.

Subbly: 6 themes and a blog option for content marketing

  • Theme library – Subbly’s theme library currently offers 6 website templates, 4 of which are still in Beta testing.
  • Non Responsive DesignsThough Subbly’s designs work when jumping from mobile to desktop, the in between screen sizes are far less responsive. In the example above, the Fortitude theme collapses the navigation bar titles into seemingly one long line of text, making it hard for your site visitors to jump from page to page.
  • Blog add on – Subbly’s websites come with a blog feature for merchants who are interested in writing shareable content for their sites.
  • Limited Analytics – Subbly’s analytics show users the amount of revenue they’ve accrued in the last 30 days as well as the number of page views for that same time period. These page views are not broken down by source and simply show the total number, giving merchants little data to identify and optimize their acquisition channels.

▷ Learn more about Subbly’s template theme library.


 

5. Shipping Cycle Options

Cratejoy: Supports Multiple Shipping Cycles

Cratejoy supports monthly subscription boxes as well as advanced re-billing options for merchants looking to explore weekly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly, quarterly, and ad-hoc frequencies. Learn more about all of Cratejoy’s billing options in the billing frequency help doc.

Subbly: Supports Multiple Shipping Cycles

Subbly currently supports weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, and yearly billing and shipping cycles.


 

6. Support

Cratejoy: Live chat, email, customer success management, and community support

Cratejoy’s in house team of subscription box support experts and engineers field support questions for all merchants through:

  • Live chat
  • Email
  • Assigned customer success manager*
  • Facebook community support

▷ Customer Success Managers partner with merchants to ensure success through every stage of running a subscription box business. Whether you’re launching, scaling, or starting on your third box, each Cratejoy merchants gets assigned a dedicated CSM to provide best-in-class support from all angles.

Subbly: Support based on pricing tier

Subbly’s support is broken down by their tiered pricing levels as follows:

  • $29/mo – Live chat, email, community support, and one onboarding call
  • $79/mo – Chat, email, and community support
  • $189/mo – phone, chat, and email support

Food for thought: Users must pay at the $189/mo tier to get the same support you receive on Cratejoy for $39/mo.

 


7. Partnerships

Cratejoy: Shipping and box supply partnerships

  • Box design and packaging – Cratejoy is happy to offer merchants an exclusive discount on custom boxes from our print-on demand partner Box Up. Cratejoy merchants get a 5% discount on all orders and can get 12 sample boxes for free. BoxUP allows subscription box owners to design custom boxes for a low price and at incredibly low quantities. Long gone are the days of 2,000 box minimums – start with 12 and order more as your business grows.
  • Shipping – Cratejoy is partnered with ShipStation and Pirate Ship to provide users discounted USPS rates, multi-carrier label processing, and order management. Learn more about our partnership on ShipStation.

Subbly: Shipping partnerships

  • Shipping – Subbly also integrates with ShipStation and allows users to export their orders.

 Ready to Start Your Free Trial?

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.

 

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