Over the past few years, a growing number of subscription businesses have entered the market.
From podcasts and books to shaving kits to meal ingredients, there's a subscription service for almost anything. If you believe you offer a service or product that's worth a subscription payment, it's time to start your own subscription eCommerce platform.
Fortunately, you don't have to be an expert coder to get the job done!
We're here to show you how to set up a recurring payment subscription website and help you choose a subscription eCommerce platform that meets your needs.
Let's not waste any time here - these are the best subscription eCommerce platforms I found:
- WooCommerce: Excellent for WordPress Users
- Shopify: User-Friendly eCommerce Platform
- Magento: Great Developer Support
- LemonStand: Cheap Subscription Payments Solution
Prices start at $199 (one-time fee)
Recommended for users who want a WordPress-based subscription website.
WooCommerce is the most used eCommerce platform on the internet, claiming to power nearly 30% of all online stores. It's not a standalone tool, but a WordPress plugin. That means you need a WordPress website to install it on. Fortunately, WordPress is free.
WooCommerce is actually free to install and use too. However, you will need to pay $199 to enable its subscription payment option. Unfortunately, there are no WooCommerce subscriptions free options available at the moment.
WooCommerce goes above and beyond when it comes to subscription features. It supports 25 different payment gateways that you can integrate directly into the service. This helps you and your customers choose the best method of payment when it's checkout time.
This service gives you full control over subscription options. Free trials, variable subscriptions, sign-up fees, WooCommerce recurring payments, and more will all be available to you. You can also set organized payment dates if you believe your business will be shipping products at the same time each month.
Setting Up WooCommerce Recurring Payments
Because WooCommerce offers one of the best subscription eCommerce platforms on the market, I'll take a quick look at how you can use its services to accept recurring payments.
To start the process, you need to install the WooCommerce plugin on your WordPress dashboard. Once you find the plugin, click 'Install Now' and then 'Activate'.
Next, you need to enable WooCommerce subscriptions. On the left-hand side panel, open the WooCommerce additional capabilities page.
You'll notice a range of different extensions. Select the subscription button to load the subscription extension page.
Explore WooCommerce Recurring Payments Options
Once set up, the WooCommerce subscription add-on will let customers purchase multiple subscriptions at the same time. This is a beneficial feature for anyone who offers a range of different subscription products or services. Setting up a similar function can be difficult when using a more rudimentary service.
The subscriptions extension also allows you the opportunity to let customers switch between plans and services. If you have multi-tiered subscriptions, customers will be able to upgrade and downgrade as they please. You can also customize coupons and discounts for customers, which they can access at the sign-up point.
- Customers can purchase multiple subscriptions
- Easy to switch between plans
- Great for WordPress Users
- Subscription add-on is expensive
- Not the most user-friendly option
Prices start at $39/month
Recommended for users who want to an all-inclusive subscription eCommerce platform.
Shopify is a giant in the eCommerce world. And while many people think of Shopify as a provider of traditional online stores and outlets, it has its own offering in the subscription services and products industry.
Like WooCommerce, you'll benefit from a range of premium features if you sign up for one of its subscription services.
Shopify allows you to choose from a range of different subscription add-ons.
These add-ons (or plugins) are supplied by third-parties who are dedicated to supplying premium subscription platforms.
This flexibility is one of the primary reasons that choosing Shopify is a good decision.
Let's take a look at one of the most popular Shopify subscription options.
If you already have a Shopify account, you can use 'ReCharge' to set up recurring payments and organize subscriptions on your Shopify account.
With ReCharge, you can set up customer subscriptions, manage subscription accounts, integrate delivery dates, manage inventory, and more. You can even give your customers access to their subscriptions to allow them to alter delivery dates or subscription tiers. The price of this service is $39.99 per month, though you will also need to factor in the cost of your Shopify plan - they start at $29/month.
Want to test it out? ReCharge offers a 60-day free trial. You don't have to risk anything to get a feel for this premium eCommerce subscription platform!
Remember, you also have plenty of other options on Spotify if you want to develop a subscription service on its platform.
- Easy to use
- Free subscription trial available
- Lots of plug-ins to enhance your store
- Requires a monthly payment
- Subscription features not included with regular accounts - you need an extra add-on
Free to use
Recommended for users who want a free subscription platform.
In order to create a Magento store, you'll need to sign up for a hosting package with a compatible service.
Fortunately, Magento is free to use.
It's an excellent option for advanced users who are looking for a subscription eCommerce platform.
It's also very flexible.
Unfortunately, Magento doesn't support subscription payments out of the box. To enable them, you'll have to purchase a separate plugin. These often cost as much as $499.
- The platform itself is free to use
- Active developer community
- Excellent for advanced users
- Expensive plugin required for subscription payments
- Not good for beginners
Prices start at $19.99/month
Recommended for users who want complete control over their store.
LemonStand is one of the best subscription eCommerce platform choices for technical users. Why? Because it allows you to modify the platform's code so you can customize your store as much as you like.
One of the reasons I love LemonStand's platform is its commitment to the online subscription industry. While this service isn't as well known as Shopify or WooCommerce, it offers some excellent eCommerce solutions that can help you grow your online subscription service.
The integration of subscriptions into LemonStand's platform is one of its most impressive features. For example, if you run a business that delivers custom boxes on a monthly or weekly basis, LemonStand offers bill schedules and product management that simplifies the process.
All subscriptions are customizable, and you're able to provide excellent discounts and coupon opportunities to potential customers. But best of all, LemonStand starts at only $19.99 per month. The team also offers traditional eCommerce solutions on its platform. And don't worry, you can try its services for free before you make a decision.
Update March 2019: Sadly, LemonStand has discontinued its service. If you're an existing LemonStand customer, you can find out what that means for you in our LemonStand shutting down analysis. Otherwise, consider an alternative service listed in this article.
- Lots of control over subscriptions
- Cheaper than alternatives
- Fewer plug-ins
Finding the Right Subscription eCommerce Platform
As an online business owner, you work hard to build a loyal customer base. Each of these platforms will help you create a following in slightly different ways, so consider your own needs when deciding between them:
- WooCommerce is the best if you're familiar with WordPress
- Shopify is ideal for beginners
- Magento offers excellent developer support
- LemonStand is the cheapest subscription eCommerce platform
Building a subscription business model can help you deliver the goods and services that satisfy your customers. Using one of the premium solutions in this guide will help you deliver the subscription service you're looking for!
What did you think of my list of the best subscription eCommerce platforms? Comment below with your thoughts!