Top 9 Subscription eCommerce Platforms Compared [2021 Guide]

David Abbou
  • David Abbou
  • February 19, 2021

eCommerce subscription services are taking over the online shopping experience. 

Today’s customers expect an end-to-end shopping “experience,” and eCommerce subscription services shine by helping to develop long-term relationships with consumers.  

According to McKinsey, large subscription retailers saw over $2.6 billion in online revenue in 2016[*], compared to just $57 million in 2011. 

Not to be left behind, classic retail brands jumped on the bandwagon. P&G launched Gillette on Demand (thanks, Dollar Shave Club), Walmart launched Beauty Box, and several other large brands are adding their own subscription offerings.

The market shows no indications of slowing down. By 2025, the subscription eCommerce market is expected to be worth $478 billion[*].  

The good news is, you’re not too late to the party. The subscription business is likely to continue expanding in the coming years. 

Kicking off a subscription business requires shifting your approach. For starters, there’s pricing, onboarding procedures, defining your performance metrics, setting a sales promotion strategy, conversion rate optimization, and more. You cannot get started without laying a solid foundation for your subscription machine. For this, you need to pick the right eCommerce subscription platform.

Did you know? 

How you price your subscription service can impact sales. Learn how to price your eCommerce subscription service. 

TOP 9 ECOMMERCE SUBSCRIPTION  PLATFORMS

There are dozens of subscription eCommerce platforms on the market, but not every one is right for your business. Let’s look at the top tools you can use to build and grow your eCommerce subscription service. 

This chart outlines each tool’s best features, but we’ll go into a bit more detail in the sections below. 

1. WooCommerce

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Subscription success means creating continuous value over time. One great way to do that is with quality content, and WordPress is one of the best Content Management Platforms out there. 

Woocommerce for WordPress is an excellent 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 site’s capabilities. This plugin’s popularity also means 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. (Note: this is an extra feature that starts at $199.) 

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

Main Advantages: Good pricing options, robust customer support

Main Disadvantages: Lacks features, overwhelming user interface

Cost: Free to install; you pay to accept payments. 

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 you grow your business. 

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, Stripe Atlas can help you establish 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-logo-horizontal-black

Squarespace is a one-stop-shop for building, customizing, hosting, and maintaining your eCommerce subscription website. It offers templates and integrations that can help with a wide variety of use cases, including building a subscription offering. 

Squarespace also has templates and integrations designed for eCommerce vendors, regardless of their size and specialty.

An important feature to note is their dedicated blogging module. This allows you to create compelling and engaging content for your subscribers to keep them engaged. 

If you’re new to Squarespace Commerce, visit Understanding Squarespace for more information about setting up your store. Note that you must choose the “Squarespace Advanced Commerce” plan to offer subscriptions. 

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: $40 / 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 is a wide range of professionally-written extensions available to customize the store to your needs, including adding subscriptions

OpenCart is open-source, so you will need to rely on community support. However, the community is highly rated by many customers. If you have any issues or obstacles, the OpenCart forum will answer all your questions and help you out. You can also use 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: Free; subscription extensions start at $24 per month

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 straightforward 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 entails 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, you need an analytical platform that measures how users engage your website over time and cross-references that data with purchases to establish the customer’s lifetime value. 

Recurly uses machine learning to improve customer retention so you can focus on growing your subscriber base. It helps reduce check-out friction and offers a range of flexible integrations so you can customize your site. 

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: High cost, not ideal for small businesses

Cost: 149 /mo + 0.9% of revenue

7. POWr for Big Cartel

powr logo

The Big Cartel platform 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, which is ideal for small business owners. 

It is also mobile responsive, offers more than 60 add-ons for customization, and is easy to set up. 

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 that takes care of the 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.

However, if you’re looking for something quick and easy to use, other solutions are much more straightforward. 

Note: 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. Shift4Shop

subscription ecommerce platform

 

 

Shift4Shop is a reliable and centralized platform that is gaining the confidence of users worldwide.

With Shift4Shop, you get an easy-to-use e-commerce platform that doesn’t require any software development skills. 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 include an out-of-the-box solution, so there’s no need for plugins or add-ons. You can also adjust subscription intervals to 60, 90, 180-day, and more. 

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

Price: Free for US-based customers 

GET STARTED WITH ECOMMERCE SUBSCRIPTIONS

Choosing the right subscription eCommerce platform is just the first step. The subscription model is more challenging than some might think.

eCommerce vendors, resellers, and other brands need a whole new business strategy to support a subscription model. Consider creating an ambassador introduction program, where you offer a special price or features to the first 100 people to subscribe. Then, you can offer a discount or credit for each new customer your ambassadors bring in. 

This will help you on your path to subscription eCommerce success.