Leverage the Features of Your Subscription Billing Platform to Max-Out Your ROI
The world is growing increasingly comfortable with digital business. More companies are starting to recognize subscription-based services as a profitable and consumer-centric business model.
It doesn’t matter if you sell online entertainment, software as a service, personal grooming products, or pre-planned meal kits. Merchants in just about every vertical are using subscription billing to retain customers and maintain ongoing revenue.
Implementing and managing subscriptions can seem overwhelmingly complex, but there are numerous subscription billing software packages available to help. That said, you can also go one step further and adopt a full subscription billing platform, with tools and features that offer much more than basic services like invoicing.
In this post, we’ll take a quick look at the features a subscription billing platform can offer. We’ll explore ways to use those features to increase ROI, and list some suggestions for finding reliable providers.
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What Is a Subscription Billing Platform?
- Subscription Billing Platform
A subscription billing platform is a suite of tools specifically designed to facilitate the subscription-billing process. A subscription billing platform also makes it easier to share data with other business software.
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There are many good reasons why subscription billing is so popular. Once the system is in place, customers don’t need to worry about reordering or making individual payments. For your part as a merchant, you get more standardized inventory control and a predictable ongoing cash flow.
Trying to stay on top of all the upkeep and accounting of subscription billing is extremely tedious if done manually, though. It’s time-consuming, and uses up an immense share of your resources and cash. Specialized subscription billing software helps manage and automate key aspects of the process. This lets you offload a lot of the burden.
A subscription billing platform is a suite of products, all designed to complement each other and integrate into your existing workflow. A good platform will handle billing, but it will also enable you to more effectively track and manage the different components of your subscription program. Onboarding, payment processing, invoicing, accounting, legal compliance: you can optimize all these processes and more with a subscription billing platform
What Does a Subscription Billing Platform Do?
The terms “subscription billing software” and “subscription billing platform” are often used interchangeably. However, it’s important to note that some software products focus almost exclusively on the “billing” aspect. To be fair, that’s usually the first capability merchants are looking for. After all, the ability to automate and streamline the recurring billing process is vital.
A subscription billing business model can be profitable…but are you ready to accept the increased chargeback risk ?
Even basic software will typically include invoicing and tracking. It will also collect customer payments in the form of payment cards, digital wallets, and in some cases, even cash or checks. More advanced packages may provide management tools, as well.
While this is all good, a subscription billing platform will offer a wider range of services. Examples include specialized accounting (revenue recognition), compliance monitoring, more complete security, and comprehensive reporting and analytics. The platform may even come with a customer portal that allows users to track and self-manage some of the details of their subscription.
With all these features, the integration factor becomes crucial. The different components must work together, of course. However, the whole platform also needs to integrate with your existing technology as seamlessly as possible. Having multiple departments sharing the same data saves time, increases accuracy, and maximizes the benefits of the platform.
Departments which could benefit from a shared subscription billing platform include:
A good online payment platform should sync with your current accounting system. You can then freely and accurately exchange data between your internal infrastructure and the platform, without the need for reformatting. The best recurring billing platforms will automatically compensate for variations such as discounts, free trials, and tiered pricing plans. This can simplify the accounting process, especially in the area of revenue recognition (identifying actual revenue vs. deferred revenue).
Having a subscription billing platform integrated with your CRM can be a huge time-saver for the sales and onboarding teams. Associates have the freedom to spend less time manually entering data for new accounts because the software will automate much of that process. Keeping track of customer updates (such as address changes) also becomes easier, and sales reps will be able to fine-tune promotional offers to specific audiences.
Obviously, subscribers need a place to make payments. Some platforms have templates to help you create payment pages that match the look of your website (but require little to no programming on your part). A few providers will even create and host payment pages for you. These options will streamline customer interactions and increase trust.
It’s true that some payment gateways have built-in or add-on capability for handling subscription management. While they can help you get started, these systems offer limited benefits, and typically aren’t scalable. On the other hand, if you opt for a third-party platform that integrates with the gateways you’re using, you’ll not only have a more robust system, you’ll also be setting yourself up to easily expand your payments options in the future.
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Getting Started with A Subscription Billing Platform
Any of the above benefits could be included in more basic subscription billing software. However, having an entire platform of interworking solutions can be a huge plus. So where do you find the best fit for your company?
Here’s an impartial list of some reputable subscription billing platform suppliers who can help:
|2Checkout provides international online payment options, including recurring billing, catering to small and mid-size businesses. The company also offers additional services, such as a payment gateway, a merchant account, and fraud detection technology.|
|Braintree is a PayPal subsidiary. They offer a simplified, plug-and-play solution with payment gateway, a merchant account, processing service, and more. Plus, they offers secure payment data storage, enabling easy rebills, and can help prevent dropped sales with automatic updates.|
|Chargebee a SaaS provider, rather than a conventional payments processor. Their services are designed to help merchants easily send and manage invoices and recurring payments. Chargebee lets merchants work with their current processor to accept recurring transactions.|
|Chargify is a billing and revenue management platform that was built with SaaS operations in mind. The company has expanded its offerings over the years. However, their platform remains focused on the core needs of recurring billing.|
|Fusebill provides cloud-based financial and accounting processes. These include billing, invoicing, reporting, and more. Their software is ideal for small- to mid-sized companies who are seeking scalable recurring billing and invoicing support.|
|Inovio is a tech-driven, fully-integrated payment gateway. They offer seamless integration and global scalability, with products including hosted checkout and virtual POS, plus APIs that are adaptable to most programming languages and billing models.|
|Konnektive CRM facilitates the automation and streamlining of complex sales procedures. Additional services include email auto-responders, shopping cart technology, and more. The platform integrates with most gateways, supporting every global currencies for easy rebill management.|
|Sticky.io is an eCommerce engine built for online marketers. They offer everything you might need in a recurring billing environment, with personalized billing options to customize your platform to fit existing payment processing structures.|
|MoonClerk facilitates recurring and one-time transactions quickly and easily. You'll enjoy a variety of solutions to address your payment management needs, regardless of the scale or industry of your business.|
|NMI offers an eCommerce payment gateway for one-time and recurring payments. It features a virtual terminal, built-in fraud filters, and more. NMI processes more than 150 currencies, plus all major card brands, and Apple Pay.|
|PayoLee’s platform is catered to the “non-tech savvy.” It's straightforward, allowing you to set up online recurring payment forms easily and with no coding required. PayoLee can also accept donations, making it ideal for fundraising purposes.|
|PayPal helps individuals and companies accept and make recurring payments easily and without having to provide financial information. It offers secure transactions, a scalable platform, limited fraud protection, and a simplified customer checkout process, with a widely-known and trusted name.|
|PaySimple is an extremely user-friendly platform. Their suite of cloud-based software helps merchants accept payments, bill customers, monitor details, and set up recurring payment systems. This can all be done with no specialized knowledge.|
|Recurly is an enterprise-level platform touting premium functionality and simplicity. They're meant specifically for recurring billing management in a global, subscription-based context. They boasts best-in-class support and security.|
|Shopify allows you to set up your own webstore and conduct recurring transactions with ease and simplicity. It's designed for users with little to no technical or design skills, making it a good choice if you're new to the eCommerce space.|
|Stripe aims to streamline revenue flow, billing itself as a global all-in-one solution. It works with applications that help manage revenue, prevent fraud, and drive growth. The company advertises easy integrations, plus cost-effective scalability for recurring payments.|
|Upodi is an enterprise-grade recurring billing platform. Their system enables SaaS and companies to accept payments, measure customer engagements, and scale globally. They offer an easy-to-use interface and developer-friendly APIs.|
|Vindicia’s comprehensive subscription management solution offers support for subscriber lifecycle management. They also provide big data analysis, strategic consulting, and proprietary customer-retention technology.|
|Zuora is subscription billing and payment software designed to help businesses manage finance operations. Highly adaptable and easily integrated, their platform provides a cohesive, end-to-end solution for managing the subscription lifecycle.|
Risks Inherent to Subscription Billing
Of course, there’s one area in which even the most comprehensive subscription billing platform won’t be of much help: chargebacks.
Subscription billing can be profitable and convenient, providing a reliable stream of monthly revenue. However, most merchants working with that business model are automatically regarded as “high risk” by card networks and acquirers because of the risks associated with subscription services.
You need a professional partner to help you identify and prevent the types of chargebacks that even the best billing platforms are susceptible to. Chargebacks911®—the industry’s leading experts in chargeback management and mitigation—offers innovative technologies and highly-customizable strategies designed to help you detect and resolve issues before they turn to chargebacks.