How to Choose a Subscription Platform for Products

There are a lot of details to consider when choosing a subscription commerce platform for physical products. We’ll go over some of the most important features to consider, which should help you evaluate which solution is right for you.

Support for Subscriptions

Here’s some of the major ecommerce and website platforms.

Platform Supports Subscriptions
Cratejoy Yes.
Shopify Yes. (With extensions like ReCharge or Recurring Orders by Bold.)
Squarespace No. (Third-party services can be linked from the website.)
Wix No. (Third-party services can be linked from the website.)
WordPress Yes. (With extensions like WooCommerce + Subscriptions.)

Credit Card Processing

All the major subscription commerce platforms require a payment processor like Stripe, Braintree, PayPal, or Authorize.net.

If you want to accept these, you’ll need a payment processor.

At Cratejoy, we’re fans of Stripe to manage payment processing. Stripe (like all payment processors) charges a transaction fee for handling the payments, so make sure to build these transaction fees into your product margins!

If you’re starting a shop outside North America, Europe, and Australia, finding a payment processor may be difficult. You’ll need to do extra research to find a processor that accepts payments in your country and a platform that also supports that processor.

Shipping

Shipping can be one of the most challenging aspects of running a subscription service with physical products. Some aspects to consider:

  • Most subscription businesses do renewals on a specific date and then ship within a few days. You’ll need a service that can generate a shipping manifest for you (ideally with labels and postage), or one that integrates with a third-party like Shipstation.
  • If you’re planning to outsource fulfillment, make sure to choose a platform that your fulfillment center can work with (or, again, offers a third-party integration like Shipstation).
  • Are you going to include shipping costs in the price of the product, charge a flat rate, or calculate pricing on demand? Make sure the platform you choose can support this, and any country restrictions you might have.

Taxes

Although taxes aren’t one of the first items you want to think about when setting up a business, it something you should consider. If you need to charge sale tax for your state or jurisdiction, see if you platform supports this or has a way for you to collect the data to provide to an accountant.

Website

Macaroon subscription anyone?

Your website and ecommerce solution might be integrated within one platform, or you can choose to build a website one service (like Squarespace, WordPress, Wix, or Shopify) and use different third-party tools to manage the subscription commerce payments.

If you have a very specific design in mind for your site, make sure it is possible with the themes available on the platform or with a developer doing custom work.

If you’re using a platform that wasn’t specifically designed for subscription commerce, make sure to test how a subscription checkout works to ensure that it will be a good experience for your customers.

Also, are you 100% sure you need a website? Lots of ecommerce sellers sell through marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon without a website. If you choose Cratejoy, you can list your subscription product quickly without a website.

Customer Accounts

Do you want customers to be able to pause or cancel their subscription on their own? Do you want customers to be able to change their address and other details about their subscription? If so, make sure that customers can create accounts on the platform you choose.

Analytics

With all ecommerce, it’s important to have data on referral sources, marketing performance, and sales. With subscription commerce, you’ll also want to be able to track your churn rate and make projections for future growth.

Before deciding on a platform, see what sort of analytics integrations they support. Can you easily push your checkout data to Google Analytics (for instance)? Will be able to easily track your churn without getting into spreadsheet land?

Single Products

Although your primary business might be subscription products, you mat also want to sell one time purchase products as well (such as a special holiday gift box or specific products that you’ve included in previous boxes). If this is going to be a critical element of your business, make sure the platform you choose also supports one-time products (and hopefully isn’t a headache to integrate with the existing shipping, credit card, and billing if you’ve used a third-party extension for the subscription aspect).

Marketing

Marketing takes a lot more time and effort than most small businesses assume. But no matter which platform you launch with, you should be able to build up a strong social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest (or wherever your customers might be!) and run ads on those service.

Cratejoy has a marketplace which does a lot of marketing on behalf of sellers (retargeting ads, mailing list promotion, influencer campaigns), which might be a great solution for some subscription business.

Final Thoughts

Choosing an ecommerce platform for your business can take a lot of time and research, but once you’ve answered the basic questions you can get your business up and running super quickly.

If you haven’t looked at Cratejoy yet, try our it’s quick to register. Our support team will be happy to answer any of the questions you might have about getting started.

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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