Top 9 Subscription eCommerce Platforms for 2019

David Abbou
  • David Abbou
  • January 31, 2019
  • 9 min read

We’ve all heard that millennials are different. They don’t want to simply punch in credit card details and receive an unidentifiable brown box in the mail a few days later. They expect an end-to-end shopping “experience” and this is where eCommerce subscription has a chance to shine by developing long term relationships with consumers. It’s a win-win.

Come to think of it, who doesn’t want a better shopping experience?! And subscription eCommerce seems to be the answer. The subscription eCommerce market has grown by a whopping 100% year-over-year for the past five years. According to McKinsey, in 2016, large subscription retailers saw over $2.6 billion in online revenue compared to just $57 million in 2011.

What followed was more predictable than a New England Super Bowl appearance: Not to be left behind, classic retail brands were quick to jump on the bandwagon. P&G  has recently launched Gillette on Demand (thanks, Dollar Shave Club), Walmart launched Beauty Box, and several others adding their own subscription offerings.

The proliferation of subscription based eCommerce is not only due to its eCommerce success. Developments outside of eCom. are also responsible. OTT (Over the Top) streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and a plethora of others have pushed subscriptions past an industry fad and into becoming an industry onto itself that is very likely to grow.

Not to worry though, you’re not too late to the party. The subscription business is good business. It’s a growing business that, if McKinsey is anything to judge by, should continue to grow exponentially.

Kicking off a subscription business requires considering a lot of new aspects. For starters, there’s pricing, onboarding procedures, defining your performance metrics, and more. You cannot get started without laying a solid foundation for your subscription machine. For this you will need to pick the right platform.

Did You Know?

It’s roughly 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

The Top 9 eCommerce Tools for recurring payments

There isn’t a lack of options for every budget but picking the right solution can become a confusing task. This Top-9 list of subscription eCommerce platforms are arguably providing the best value-for-money right now.

top 10 ecommerce subscription platforms comparison table

1. WooCommerce

woo-commerce logo

Subscription success means creating added and continuous value over time. One great way of doing that is with quality content, and WordPress is one of the best Content Management Platforms there is. Woocommerce for WordPress is an awesome plugin that’s helping eCommerce vendors achieve their subscription goals.

This plugin has all the essential features you need to set up an eCommerce site. The base plugin is 100% free, and there are plenty of modestly-priced extensions that can enhance your capabilities. The popularity of this plugin also means that it has the technical foundation and passionate support of a large community.

With WooCommerce Subscriptions, you can create and manage products with recurring payments — payments that will give you residual revenue you can track and count on.

Integration Capabilities: WordPress (yes), Amazon (yes), Shopify (yes, via 3rd party), Magento (yes, via 3rd party)

Main Advantages: Good pricing options, strong customer support

Main Disadvantages: Lacks features, overwhelming user interface

Cost: from $3.95 / month

2. Stripe

stripe logo

Whether you’re creating a subscription service, an on-demand marketplace or an eCommerce store, Stripe’s comprehensive APIs can help your cause.

Stripe is a payment processing service that helps small business owners get paid for their products or services. Unfortunately,  Stripe accounts are only supported in certain countries. However, a service called Stripe Atlas can help you establish up a U.S.-based company and bank account regardless of your geographical location.

Integration Capabilities: WordPress (yes, via 3rd party), Amazon (yes, via 3rd party), Shopify (yes, via 3rd party), Magento (yes, via 3rd party)

Main Advantages: Easy and fast installation, fantastic API

Main Disadvantages: Rigid qualification standards, expensive

Cost: 2.9% of transactions + 30 cents / successful charge

3. Squarespace Commerce Advanced


Squarespace gives you a one-stop shop for building, customizing, hosting, and maintaining your website.  It offers templates and integrations that can help with a wide variety of use cases, including the building of subscription models. Squarespace also has templates and integrations designed for eCommerce vendors, regardless of their size and speciality.

An important point to note is the dedicated blogging module that is available. This allows you to create compelling and engaging content for your subscribers to keep them on board.

If you’re new to Squarespace Commerce, visit Understanding Squarespace Commerce for more information about setting up your store.

Integration Capabilities: WordPress (yes, via 3rd party), Amazon (yes), Shopify (yes, via 3rd party), Magento (yes, via 3rd party)

Main Advantages: Blogging module, Easy to use

Main Disadvantages: Expensive for starters, Basic customer support

Cost: $46 / month

4. OpenCart Express

open cart logo

OpenCart is a comprehensive eCommerce solution that lets you launch your online stores and manage your products, along with the added functionality you might need to engage your customers and create new subscription channels.  There are many professionally-written extensions available to customize the store to your needs.

OpenCart is open-source so you will need to rely on community support. However, the community is praised by many customers. If you have any issues or obstacles, the OpenCart forum will answer all your questions and help you out.There is also the option of utilizing the extension store, which is full of high-quality solutions that you can easily install through your admin panel.

Integration Capabilities: WordPress (yes), Amazon (yes), Shopify (yes), Magento (yes)

Main Advantages: Quick Installation, Good Customization, Open Source

Main Disadvantages: Complicated for Newbies, Basic Customer Support

Cost: $100

5. BigCommerce

bigcommerce logo

This popular Commerce as a Service (CaaS) solution brings you the best of both content and customization. You can now integrate commerce with content targeted to your subscribers. You don’t have to compromise the content you’ve created. Just use this feature rich platform to combine it with your fully customized eCommerce offering.

The management features are really easy to use and they work seamlessly. There may be a learning curve for new users, but BigCommerce offers 24/7 support.

Integration Capabilities: WordPress (yes, via 3rd party), Amazon (yes), Shopify (yes, via 3rd party), Magento (yes, via 3rd party)

Main Advantages: Rich Feature Set, Great Customer Support

Main Disadvantages: Costly, Not Ideal for Small Businesses

Cost: Starts at $29.95 / month

6. Recurly

recurly logo

Subscriptions are a great way to sell your merch and build relationships with your customers. However, managing these relationships entail different challenges than one-off sales.

Successful subscription retailers are usually data driven. They get intimately acquainted with their customer data and make decisions based on it. For that to happen, an analytical platform that can measure how users engage your website over time, and are able to cross-reference that with purchases to establish the customer’s lifetime value is essential.

Integration Capabilities: WordPress (yes, via 3rd party), Amazon (yes), Shopify (yes, via 3rd party), Magento (yes, via 3rd party)

Main Advantages: Rich feature set, great customer support

Main Disadvantages: Priced per transaction, not ideal for small businesses

Cost: per-transaction basis, % of revenue, and a base monthly fee

7. POWr for Big Cartel

powr logo

We like the Big Cartel platform because it allows small shops to quickly create beautiful websites that sell. The POWr plugin for Big Cartel turns your Big Cartel online shop into a subscription box type service. It doesn’t require any coding knowledge and is very easy to use.

Integration Capabilities: WordPress (yes, via 3rd party), Amazon (yes), Shopify (yes, via 3rd party), Magento (yes, via 3rd party)

Main Advantages: Easy to use, Mobile responsive

Main Disadvantages: Limited Feature Set

Cost: Free

8. OsCommerce

oscommerce logo

OsCommerce is a self-hosted e-commerce platform. It can take care of both your front-end store catalog – your products – and your back-end management tasks like adding products, and managing sales tasks. This platform is open source, which means that you can modify your website freely with the help of an active user community. Keep in mind, coding skills are likely necessary.

If you’re looking for something quick and easy to get started with, there are other solutions that are much easier to use.

  • Recurring payments are available from RC2.2 version and on.

Integration Capabilities: WordPress (yes, via 3rd party), Amazon (yes), Shopify (yes, via 3rd party), Magento (yes, via 3rd party)

Main Advantages: Budget friendly, large user community, customizable

Main Disadvantages: Community support, requires coding

Cost: Free

9. 3dcart

3dcart logo

3dcart is a reliable and centralized platform that is gaining the confidence of users worldwide.

With 3dcart, you get an easy-to-use e-commerce platform that doesn’t require any software development skills. At the same time, they also offer you an optimized and advanced structure that’s capable of handling hundreds of products. This is great for businesses that are growing fast and need a suitable SEO friendly solution.

Finally, when it comes to subscriptions and recurring payments they offer an out of the box solution already included so, once again, no need for plugins or add-ons.

Integration Capabilities: WordPress (yes, via 3rd party), Amazon (yes), Shopify (yes, via 3rd party), Magento (yes, via 3rd party)

Main Advantages: Easy to use, enterprise customization, several out-of-the-box integrations, no transaction fees, built-in support for subscriptions

Main Disadvantages: Basic customer support, CRM functionality only for premium packages

Before Getting Started with eCommerce Subscriptions

As mentioned earlier, picking the right software solution and creating the foundation is just the first step. The subscription model is actually tougher than some might think.

eCommerce vendors, re-sellers and other entities need a whole new business cycle to support this kind of acquisition pattern. A good starting point can be the creation of some kind of ambassador introduction program, where you try to get the first 100 people to subscribe. You can then gradually have your ambassadors bring in new customers.

Once you can answer the “Why are consumers subscribing?” question as opposed to the “How can I make money out of subscriptions”? one, you are on the path to success.