If there’s one thing the coronavirus has taught us during the past few months, it’s that the future of retail is digital. And more specifically, it’s subscriptions.
Data shows that many subscription businesses are more lucrative now than before. The Subscription Impact Report COVID-19 Edition by Zuora examines the effect the novel coronavirus has had on businesses that rely on recurring revenue. The report found that 11.4% of companies are beginning to see their subscriber churn outpace new subscribers. However, about twice as many businesses — 22.5% — are seeing their growth rates increase.
It is also worth noting that 53.3% of companies have not experienced a significant impact on growth rates one way or the other, and 12.8% have seen slowdowns but are still growing, nonetheless. Igor Krasnykh, CEO of PowerSync — a tech startup that develops scalable software for eCommerce merchants — said he believes more businesses will join the subscription economy in the near future.
“Companies that embrace subscriptions sooner rather than later are going to be the winners,” he said. “They will have much more money to spend on other things, they will be growing much faster, and they’re going to be providing a much better customer experience.”
The importance of choosing the right subscription management software
Whether you’re launching a brand-new subscription business, or just adding subscription offerings, implementing systems that fill business gaps is an essential first step. For example:
- Adopting customer relationship management (CRM) software helps businesses get to know their customers on a deeper level.
- Automating processes with system integration tools helps companies save a ton of time and money.
- Choosing a robust subscription management solution allows merchants to electronically manage orders, schedule shipments, and complete recurring payments.
While each of the above is impactful for businesses, selecting the best subscription management software is one of the most important decisions you face as a subscription merchant. Profits in this sector center around recurring products and service delivery, so making the correct decision impacts your business on a frequently recurring basis.
Don’t assume that just because a solution says “subscription management” on the label, that it can fulfill all of your needs. An important question to ask is, “Will this subscription solution grow with my business, or will it hold it back in the future?” To answer that question, consider the following:
- Is the subscription solution optimized for all devices? (Predictions suggest that 54% of transactions will take place on mobile by 2021.)
- Does the functionality meet all the needs that your specific business and industry require?
- Is the subscription solution scalable? How many orders can it handle? Will it grow as your business grows?
- Can customers change and update orders with ease?
- Are product fields versatile and varied enough to reflect and differentiate their inventory from their competitors?
- What is the customer service experience?
- Does the company selling the subscription solution have a solid reputation when it comes to being responsive and helpful?
The mPower advantage
Magento is one of the world’s most popular eCommerce platforms, and Krasnyk said PowerSync developed its mPower solution for Magento merchants because the platform does not natively support a complex subscription management solution.
“There are tools for Magento that are available that claim that they support subscriptions, and some do, but they only cover limited use cases,” Krasnykh said.
Here are the top five features that set the mPower subscription solution apart.
- It is architected, designed, and supported by a company that uses the product itself.
As a SaaS subscription company offering system integration solutions, Krasnykh said PowerSync first built the mPower subscription solution to serve its own needs.
“We got frustrated and upset with the solutions we found in the industry and on the market when we did our research,” he said. “They didn’t cover some of the use cases we needed, had broken code, lacked functionality, and (were unavailable) for support. So long story short, we built our own.”
As they roll it out to new businesses, they’ve enhanced built-in functionalities to meet merchants where they are. The result is a robust, out-of-the-box subscription management tool that operates optimally to support every subscription business type.
- It takes into consideration the merchant as well as the shopper to provide the best experience for both.
During his professional career, Krasnykh spent a good deal of time working in the user experience sector. When designing mPower, he said he took into consideration the ease-of-use for merchants as well as their customers. As a result, mPower provides merchants with the flexibility to customize and configure the product to their liking. At the same time, the functionality is not confusing to customers when making a purchase.
- Shoppers can manage/modify subscriptions without having to go back through the purchasing process.
In many cases, subscription customers are forced through the checkout process when they add or modify subscription products. Usually, this looks like canceling the old subscription and creating a new one. This process presents the risk of losing that business, but also creates a headache for the customer. mPower eliminates that headache.
“We provide the experience for the shopper to be able to manage their subscriptions with ease, and we give them the flexibility to be able to modify their subscription profiles on the fly without having to go and repurchase,” Krasnykh said.
In our previous blog post, we stress the importance of adopting a customer-centric mindset to achieve prolonged subscription business success. With this feature, mPower allows merchants to provide a better customer experience to its buyers, which makes them more likely to stick around.
- mPower supports many different subscription business models
There are many facets of recurring revenue that fall under the subscription umbrella. In our previous blog post, we discuss several different subscription business models, including:
- Subscription boxes
- Subscribe and save
- Media subscriptions
- Digital product subscriptions
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) subscriptions
Robust subscription management solutions support many different models, opening the possibility to expand into other areas of the subscription economy. Are there other subscription areas you would like to try your hand at, such as offering digital products rather than just a subscription box? Or adding a VIP program that delivers exclusive pricing and deals to members? Krasnykh said mPower is not only scalable in the sense that it is capable of handling thousands of orders, but it can also accommodate the differing use cases listed above.
“Building a product that does everything is extremely complex, and the logic to handle subscriptions are extremely complex,” he said. “We built a product that fits different subscription business models, and we are updating and adding to it all the time to improve its versatility.”
- It meets the needs of many niche industries.
Rather than taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach, mPower accommodates the unique needs of merchants in many different industries. Here are some of the specific industries served, as well as the accompanying use cases.
- A flexible checkout process allows customers to subscribe to a variety of products on different schedules.
- Customers can skip a shipment or place their profile on a temporary hold.
- Offer a discount when subscribing to a product vs. making a one-time purchase. o Customers can choose if they want their subscription to renew automatically or not.
- Assign and track software license codes.
- Set a unique software price for each billing frequency.
- Offer a free trial period.
- Set an initial fee for each product.
- Process partial shipments.
- Create custom billing frequencies.
- Bundle and group various publications into a single subscription.
- Offer future start date subscriptions.
- Set up custom price subscription profiles when taking orders over the phone or via other channels.
- Use flexible controls to choose products available for recurring and one-off purchases.
- Track profit, current account value, and annual account value, in real-time.
- View an advanced history showing all subscription profile changes.
Merchants who opt for the mPower subscription solution also receive ongoing customer support from PowerSync. Many have praised the company for the top-notch assistance it provides when a need arises.
If you are considering becoming an online subscription merchant or would like some practical advice for developing an eCommerce strategy that will stand the test of time, PowerSync is currently offering risk-free, complimentary brainstorming sessions. Schedule a time slot to learn what’s possible.
Written by Rachel Nelson
Platinum Partner, PowerSync