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The growth rate of the subscription economy has been nothing short of amazing. According to Zuora, a provider of billing and financial tools for subscription-based businesses, from September 2016–March 2017, this sector grew at a 16.1 percent rate, “off” from a 21.6 percent growth rate from the previous six-month period. Zuora CEO Tien Tzou noted at a November 2016 conference that subscription-based companies are growing nine times faster than the S&P 500.
Jason Pressman, managing director at Shasta Ventures, wrote in Forbes magazine in May how subscriptions provide today’s shoppers more convenience and affordability while giving store owners greater flexibility, efficiency, and adaptability. Subscription apps typically have built-in analytics that provide instant data to allow you to make adjustments quickly to meet customer demand.
“I started blogging and then, when I discovered Korean beauty products, I blogged about it and saw a huge spike in my traffic,” said co-founder Sylvia Song in an October 2016 feature. “That’s when I realized that Korean beauty was starting to become a trend. Six months later, we launched the box. … Before we launched, we sold hundreds of pre-orders right from the start. At that point I realized, I really couldn’t not do this.”
Shopify itself does not provide subscription support, but there are a number of subscription apps that you can add to your store under its Basic Plan. Check out the following apps to manage subscriptions on your site:
1. ReCharge Recurring Billing & Subscriptions
This is the most popular of the Shopify subscription apps, in part because of its robust feature list. MISHIBOX is just one company that uses this app. ReCharge allows you to create multiple subscription plans. It is the only app that integrates directly into Shopify Accounts and has the account creation flow built into checkout, as well as allowing customers to manage their subscriptions from your website. It also supports both credit card and PayPal payments, and if you have an existing membership list, you can bulk import your subscribers into your store for free. For more information, go to www.rechargebilling.com.
2. Recurring Orders
This Bold Commerce app allows you to sell physical products on a subscription basis. Prominent shopping sites such as Sugar Bear Hair and Lucky Tackle Box, the largest subscription store on Shopify, feature this app. Recurring Orders is the only app to allow subscriptions on individual products or an entire recurring cart, as well as mixed-cart shopping (one-time purchases and recurring orders). It also is the first Shopify app to allow for Build-a-Box or Meal-Plan type subscriptions. For more information, check out www.boldcommerce.com.
3. Recurring Memberships
This app, also by Bold Commerce, works for both online and offline membership plans, from digital content subscriptions to fitness classes at your studio. One of its top selling points is the ability to change content accessible to visitors based on their subscription type, including a custom homepage for members. Recurring Memberships also allows for subscriptions boxes where customers receive random items within a specific category, rather than specific products.
4. Charge Rabbit
This app, created by Corknine Development, works best for businesses that sell digital magazine and video subscriptions, as well as charge for ongoing access to online files. One downside to Charge Rabbit is that it doesn’t offer a PayPal option. For more information, go to www.chargerabbit.com.
About the Author
Rene Ferran has spent more than 25 years providing quality content to a variety of online and print publications. He spent 15 years as the lead high school sportswriter for the Tri-City Herald, where he honed his deadline writing skills and ability to quickly assess situations to produce clear, concise and compelling copy.
When he's not slumped over a keyboard, you can probably find him officiating a youth sports event or spending time with his wife and two teenage children.