Who can You Trust? Which Subscription Billing Software Provider is Right for Your Business?
Enrolling in a subscription service isn’t a new concept. In the last decade, though, subscriptions have taken a much more prominent role in the average person’s life.
Consumers can now sign up for all kinds of services under the subscription model. Groceries, prescriptions, music, movies, clothing, technology — if you want it, there’s probably a subscription service for it.Learn more about subscription billing
Of course, subscription management demands changes to your internal operations. These can be made possible through subscription billing software.
If you’re new to the subscription model, the process of launching a service can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, there are many available subscription billing software solutions to help you get started. But, that begs the question: which providers can you count on?
Is subscription billing right for your business, and if so, who’s the best fit for your needs? Let’s find out.
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What is Subscription Billing Software?
- Subscription Billing Software
Subscription billing software is a tool specifically designed to facilitate the subscription billing process in areas such as invoicing and payment tracking.
[noun]/səb • skrip • SHən • bil • ing • soft • wer/
Subscription software handles ongoing payments for businesses that provide subscription-based products and services. This software can let you create invoices for a variety of plans and billing schedules, manage customer accounts, and streamline and execute subscription billing cycles.
When deployed correctly, subscription software can help you deliver a seamless experience to your customers while providing reliable recurring revenue for you. The more successful your subscription business, however, the more management it will require, and the more sophisticated your platform will need to be.
It’s important to know what you’re getting before you sign on. All solutions offer an automated billing workflow, but the amount of automation and other features will vary. You need to match the services and features each platform offers to your specific needs.
Benefits of Subscription Billing Software
The most obvious benefit of using subscription billing software is that it offers you a quick-launch option to jump into the incredibly lucrative subscription economy.
Roughly 5% of European consumer spending is currently dedicated to subscription services. And, according to recent reports, the global market for subscription billing management will nearly double in size in the next five years.
The right software tool can provide an opportunity to create lasting relationships with customers, diversify your revenue streams, and capitalize on a growing market. In fact, subscription billing software offers numerous benefits for businesses, including:
In short: the subscription billing software efficiently manages the billing process. This lets you focus on growing your business and delivering value to your customers.
Types of Subscription Billing Software
There are a few different types of subscription billing software available. These can be broadly categorized as the following:
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What Should I Look For in Subscription Billing Software?
When choosing a subscription billing software, you should consider factors such as the scale of the business, the level of customization required, and the technical expertise at your disposal. You should also think about your budget and the need for integration with other tools to determine the most suitable option.
Another key consideration should be data security. To protect yourself and your customers, look for providers who offer PCI Level 1 compliance, as well as SOC1 Type 1 compliance. You should ask about other security practices as well.
Beyond that, here are six key functions you should expect from even the most basic solutions:
#1 | Subscription Account Management
Despite the name, subscription management software can do a lot more than bill customers. The software should be able to collect, collate, and process data across the subscriber’s entire account in real time.
Customer accounts are dynamic. Users will pause, cancel, upgrade, or downgrade their subscriptions on a constant basis. Your billing software should be able to facilitate these adjustments in a smooth, automatic manner. At the same time, manual input will occasionally be necessary. So, updating information by hand should be simple and intuitive.
#2 | Invoicing
Automation is a great time-saver, but remember that each invoice will be received and read by human beings. If billing information isn’t presented clearly, or gets sent to the wrong party, the invoice may not be paid.
The best subscription billing software ensures that clear invoices are sent to the proper party. Make sure your solution accepts a variety of payment methods (cards, bank transfers, digital wallets, etc.) and offers multiple channel options for delivery.
#3 | Dunning Management
Discretely reminding customers of past-due payments can be tricky. In some cases, the subscriber may not even realize the payment wasn’t made. In other cases, however, the non-payment could be deliberate.
Software made for recurring billing can automatically identify non-payments, alert cardholders to declined transactions, and retry cards. Some systems can be programmed with customized step-up reminders to pursue owed payments. If non-payment could be an issue for you, then be sure you look for this feature.
#4 | Integration
You need billing software that works with what you’re doing now but which also has the flexibility you need to scale as your business matures. A solution that “almost” integrates with your current tech and processes will require patches and workarounds, likely creating additional problems in the future.
Look for a system that can mesh with both your internal systems (hardware, software, etc.) as well as third-party solutions like payment gateways and processors.
#5 | Accounting
Accounting for subscription billing has its own specific needs. For example, the ability to handle revenue recognition is critical, as renewal payments can come weeks or months before the actual contract renewal.
Make sure your solution will compensate for all such bookkeeping needs, including recording discounts, free trials, and different pricing/contracts. It should also calculate and apply sales taxes based on location.
Here again, seamless integration is crucial. You must share all accounting data accurately between systems, with no need for recalculation or reformatting.
#6 | Reporting & Analytics
Does your subscription software work as well as it could? Is it accurate? Are you getting a good ROI? The only way to know is to track the right metrics and KPIs. Your solution should be able to analyze the data it generates, then provide customized reports on a wide range of statistics, including:
- Cart Abandonment Rates
- Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
- Subscription Acquisition/Churn
- Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)
- Deferred Revenue
- Acquisition Channels
You should now have a better understanding of what subscription billing software can do for you, what types are available, and what to look for in providers. So next, let’s finally dig into which providers would work best with your business.
Top 12 Subscription Billing Software Providers of 2023
Ultimately, your subscription business needs a billing solution that is comprehensive, transparent, and easy to implement and use. As we said earlier, however, what you really want is the product that works best for you.
So where do you start?
Here’s a list of some reputable subscription billing suppliers to check out. Ratings and reviews were averaged based on real customer reviews from sources including G2, Enlyft, Bit.Ai, HG Insights, CB Insights, Trust Radius, and Investopedia. The “pros” and “cons” we mention are also paraphrased directly from real, firsthand customer reviews.
Also, keep in mind that any pricing quoted is effective as of this writing, but is subject to change.
#1 | Stripe Billing
Stripe Billing is a fast and flexible way to bill customers. Offer recurring payments globally and capture more revenue with Stripe’s recovery tools. Choose how you monetize, with support for tiered pricing and metered billing. Get started with little or no code by using flexible pre-built components like the pricing table and customer portal, or use APIs for full custom integration.
- UI is very modern and easy to use
- Intuitive API
- Accepts multiple currencies
- Involves more fees than some other services
- Slow payouts
- Limited functionality
|Interchange Plus||2.9% + 30¢
per successful charge
#2 | Zuora
Zuora Billing is enabling companies to monetize new innovations fast, while scaling and automating billing processes. Companies leveraging Zuora Billing are able to unlock new growth strategies with 50+ out of the box pricing models, configurable discounting, and billing triggers. Pricing is synchronized with Zuora CPQ to support direct sales, APIs to support consumer channels, and the ability to enable self-serve and partner portals to nurture customers across any sales channel.
Last, Zuora Billing allows companies to automate their billing operations at scale by automating prorations, orchestrating provisioning, general ledger integration, connections to tax engines, and support for 40+ payment gateways.
- Very easy to use
- Customizable templates
- Upscalable solutions
- Limited annual revenue integration
- Steeper learning curve
- Complex backend UX
Pricing: *Call for a custom quote
#3 | sticky.io
sticky.io is a leading API commerce platform, delivering unparalleled performance for direct-to-consumer ecommerce businesses. Their robust platform specializes in subscription management and recurring billing, empowering brands to seamlessly manage their subscription business models.
The platform offers ultimate flexibility in subscription offers, pricing and billing models and payment methods. And with advanced analytics, sticky.io provides merchants with an all-encompassing view of their customers' lifecycle. Merchants using sticky.io gain valuable insights and make data-driven decisions to optimize customer acquisition, retention and engagement strategies.
- Friendly UI
- Excellent customer service
- Scalable integration
- Slight learning curve
- Backend features can be complex
- Integration may require developer support
Pricing: *Contact for free quote
#4 | ProfitWell (by Paddle)
ProfitWell helps subscription products and companies achieve faster recurring revenue growth. The company aims to do this by driving monetization, customer retention, and insights with solutions backed by data science. ProfitWell streamlines revenue automation products that automatically reduce cancellations, optimize pricing, and provide accurate, free revenue reporting.
- Seamless integration
- Top notch customer support
- Scalable pricing
- Doesn’t track non-subscription revenue
- Nominally customizable
- Supports one platform per account
|$0/mo||*Variable, based on revenue||$1000/mo||Starting at $15k/mo|
#5 | Konnektive CRM
Konnektive CRM is an intuitive eCommerce and subscription billing platform that makes headless commerce easy. With over 180+ gateway integrations and 400+ total integrations, Konnektive is a cloud-based CRM and order management solution that helps optimize, centralize, and automate eCommerce business processes.
- Easy to use
- Plentiful reporting options
- Data entry is complex
- No automated reporting
- Limited real-time support
Pricing: *Contact for free quote
#6 | FastSpring
One of the most trusted subscription payments providers in the world, FastSpring provides an all-in-one payment platform for SaaS, software, & digital goods businesses. FastSpring’s easy-to-use global eCommerce platform includes all of the features your company needs to sell more, stay lean, and reach a global audience.
- Excellent customer support
- Ideal for international and digital sales
- Integrates with most selling platforms
- Dashboard usability could be improved
- No WooCommerce plugin
- Backend features can be complex
Pricing: *Not available publicly; contact for details
#7 | Recurly
Thousands of innovative companies across digital media, streaming, publishing, SaaS, education, consumer goods, and professional services industries rely on Recurly to unlock transformational growth using subscriptions. Recurly’s all-in-one, integrated platform removes the complexities of automating subscription billing at scale by enabling teams to manage and optimize their subscriber lifecycles with ease.
- Simple and easy to use API
- Excellent for large-scale subscription businesses
- Scalable solutions
- Professional services are expensive
- Backend reporting is complex
- Not always quick to innovate
|Core Plan||Professional Plan||Elite Plan|
|$0/mo||*Contact for details||*Contact for details|
#8 | Chargebee
Chargebee is a recurring billing and subscription management platform for subscription businesses. The platform works with 25+ payment gateways and supports billing in 100+ currencies across 150+ countries right out of the box.
Chargebee integrates with the leading payment gateways around the world like Stripe, Braintree, and PayPal to automate recurring payment collection along with invoicing, taxes, accounting, email notifications, SaaS Metrics, and customer management. The company also handles crucial workflows from lead to ledger with power-packed integrations that include Salesforce, Xero, Quickbooks, Avalara, and Slack, among others.
- Customizable platform
- Easy to navigate
- Limited customer portal
- Lengthy setup
- Somewhat steep learning curve for new users
#9 | Maxio (formerly Chargify)
Maxio’s financial operations platform is designed to meet the unique financial challenges of B2B SaaS, including billing, subscription management, revenue & expense recognition, and SaaS metrics & analytics. Maxio will automate the full spectrum of the subscription lifecycle, from billing and invoicing to ARR management to revenue recognition. This is all done in a single, unified system that allows customers to generate custom reports that investors will love.
- Easily integrates with Salesforce, Avalara, and QuickBooks
- Versatile reporting
- Support is speedy and responsive
- Steep learning curve
- Autopay is tricky
- Clunky UI and UX
|Starting at $599/mo||*Contact for details||*Contact for details|
#10 | Sage Intacct
Sage Intacct financial management software is the only AICPA-preferred financial management solution. It delivers the automation and controls around billing, accounting, and reporting that finance professionals need to reduce errors, stay audit-ready, and scale the business. Customers benefit from a "buy with confidence" guarantee that outlines the level of services they can expect for uptime, security, recovery, and more.
- Easy to navigate UX
- Customizable platform
- Complex reporting systems
- Steep learning curve
- No OCR automation
|Free Trial||*Contact for details|
#11 | Zoho Subscriptions
Zoho Subscriptions is a simple solution for businesses looking to automate subscription management and recurring billing. The application enables businesses to take full control of events throughout the customer's life cycle, from signup to recurring payments. This recurring billing and subscription management software is ideal for membership businesses and SaaS billing.
- Broad catalog of features
- Pay-as-you-go pricing compatible
- Affordable and scalable
- File syncing is occasionally spotty
- Complex workflows
- Backend functionality needs improvement
|Free Edition||Basic Edition||Standard Edition||Professional Edition|
|$0/mo– billed annually||$49/mo– billed annually||$99/mo– billed annually||$249/mo– billed annually|
#12 | Braintree (by PayPal)
Braintree is a payments company that provides elegant tools for developers and white-glove support. Merchants in more than 45 countries/regions worldwide can accept, split, and enable payments in more than 130 currencies using Braintree. Braintree is known for stellar support, innovative concepts, and simple processes.
- Accepts a wide range of currencies
- Good for consolidating multiple payment methods through on processor
- Staunch PCI compliance
- Analytics and reporting are clunky
- Customer service is not always consistent
- Little to no support for chargeback management
|Interchange Plus||2.9% + 30¢
per successful charge
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Risks Inherent to Subscription Billing
As we’ve shown, 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.
There’s one area, specifically, in which even the most comprehensive subscription billing platform won’t be of much help: chargeback management.
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. Contact us today to learn more.
What is subscription billing software?
Subscription billing software handles ongoing payments for businesses that provide subscription-based products and services. This software creates invoices for a variety of subscription plans and billing schedules and helps merchants streamline and execute their subscription billing cycles.
Which software is best for billing?
There's no singular, best option. Different providers will be better-suited to your unique needs depending on the specifics of your business. When choosing a subscription billing software, you should consider factors such as the scale of the business, the level of customization required, and the technical expertise at your disposal. You should also think about your budget and the need for integration with other tools to determine the most suitable option.
How do I manage my subscriptions?
Ultimately, your subscription business needs a billing solution that is comprehensive, transparent, and easy to implement and use. Your best solution is probably to partner with a solution provider that offers the right software platform to fit your needs.