SaaS businesses need to know how to offer their customers flexible subscription plans, while also being able to have full control over their customer data. After all, without revenue, your business will come to a slow death.
Both B2B/B2C software and app sales are booming in 2022. SaaS businesses, whether intended for consumers at large, or for enterprise and small business use, are more popular than ever before. SaaS sales were worth $152 billion in 2021, according to Statista, and it is anticipated the market will be worth over $176 billion in 2022. In fact, over the last seven years, the market has grown by a phenomenal 300%.
Given the remarkable growth and popularity of the sector, it’s not surprising that there are an increasing variety of subscription management software available, to help coordinate and analyze the large volume of payments these SaaS products necessitate.
Before we look at our top ten of these subscription management products, let’s define our terms a little better.
What is subscription management software?
Subscription management software is a product which helps subscription businesses set up, automate, manage, and maintain a database of regular subscription payments from customers. This software typically includes facilities for taking payments via a wide range of providers (credit and debit card companies, PayPal, Stripe, etc.). It also allows for multiple subscription tiers and has in place marketing functions to help reduce churn and missed payments.
Top features required in a subscription management software
The best subscription management software and tools offer multiple payment methods and integrations. There may be the ability to offer discount codes or vouchers, and to automatically issue invoices. There will usually be client and customer-side interfaces so that both you and your subscribers can check the status of your payment plans, and upgrade, renew or cancel them as required.
Here are the must-haves for any good subscription management software system:
- Flexibility to create multiple tiers
- As many payment options as possible
- Dunning and churn reduction measures
- Analytics, reports, and dashboards to track revenue
- Integrations with your CRM, mail system and other tools
- Invoicing and payment recovery systems
- Great customer experience: easy to use interfaces for both clients and subscribers
Let’s now dig into what’s available, what they offer and how they compare with one another.
Top 10 best subscription management software and tools
Here are our top picks for the best subscription management software in 2022:
Okay let’s dive deeper into each one.
We start with one of the big names in online payment services, and the main rival to PayPal. Stripe is a payment gateway that describes itself as a “payments infrastructure for the internet” and it can be used for both one-off ecommerce payments as well as ongoing subscriptions (for recurring billing).
Stripe has literally millions of users and thousands of big-name ecommerce clients, including Deliveroo, Booking.com, Xero, and Asos. There are fraud detection measures in place, and the facility to issue invoices. You can even issue your own branded “store cards” with Stripe.
On the subscription side of their offering, Stripe enables you to streamline and automate metered charging, per-seat pricing, and numerous other payment models. Coupons, free trials, add-ons, and prorations (introductory discount rates) are all supported to sweeten the deal for new subscribers.
Stripe also has measures in place to reduce churn and improve retention, including automated failed payment notifications and retries, and an automated card updater so that subscribers who’ve simply had a credit card lapse can update their account.
API integrations are available for your website, CRM system or mobile app.
If you want an ecommerce provider with a proven track record as a partner, Stripe could be the smart choice. It’ll come at a price, however, since they charge:
- 2.9% plus $0.30 per online transaction
- 1% for international cards and 1% for currency conversions.
- An additional 0.5% to 0.8% for recurring payments (subs)
If you want a more specialist tool than Stripe, RevenueCat offer “In-App Subscriptions Made Easy.” They aim to make your subscription service truly cross-platform by allowing for iOS, Android, and web-based payment interfaces. One great feature for SMBs and start-ups is the provision of automated alerts via webhooks, so you’ll always know when a new subscriber comes on-stream, or a sub is up for renewal.
RevenueCat’s analytics are a high point in their offering, with customizable dashboards to display subscription metrics including recurring revenue, new customers, and active users. They offer a host of no-code integrations including Apple Search Ads, Facebook Ads, Intercom, Slack, Stripe, and Mixpanel.
RevenueCat is probably more popular with app developers than web-based software companies, but its subscription models work equally well for B2B or B2C models. Pricing plans work out competitively with 0.8% or 1.2% rates, or custom pricing for large enterprises. There’s also a free trial tier for up to $10,000 of monthly tracked revenue (MTR), which would suit start-ups.
Recurly boasts big media companies as clients, including ViacomCBS, Time Magazine, and Kahoot! They are very growth-focused, with something called an Intelligent Revenue Optimization Engine at work behind the scenes to boost subscriber counts and reduce churn.
Integrations are provided to popular accountancy, fraud detection and tax apps, helping you maximize revenue. Recurly claims to detect risk early and recover up to 73% of risky account debt. They also have a suite of readymade building blocks for subscription service creation, meaning that you could be up and running with a new service comparatively quickly.
There’s a lot of flexibility built into Recurly’s subscription management, including provision for tiered, usage-based, or volume-based pricing strategies. Users report that the mandatory steps for managing new accounts are straightforward and that customer service is responsive and helpful.
There are three payment tiers within Recurly itself — the basic version has a monthly fee of $150, and the Professional and Elite tiers (for businesses with revenue over $1 million and $25 million responsively) offer bespoke pricing.
Skio are a lot more fun with their marketing than most other subscription service providers, with their clients’ products represented in floating bubbles and the motto “sell subscriptions without ripping your hair out.”
They specialize in the growing field of offering FMCGs on subscription (fast moving consumer goods — everything from razors to chocolate to wine). This can prove a very lucrative model for small brands to build sustainability and predictable revenue.
Skio’s main ecommerce partner is Shopify, and they are replacing ReCharge for recurring payments on the platform. It’s a great idea — why sell one bottle of moisturizer when you can offer recurring supplies for frequently consumed items? Customers can quickly set up a recurring payment (within 10 seconds Skio boast) and skip refills with a password-free interface (it uses one-time passcodes send by phone or email).
Skio is a little pricey however — their “dog plan” is $399 a month (which may go up soon) plus 1% and a $0.20 fee per transaction. The “cat plan” (told you they were quirky) offers bespoke pricing — contact them for details.
As a more straight down the line SaaS subscription management tool, Chargify is a strong contender. They score very high on the bottom line, with in-app accountancy features which achieve ASC606 and IFRS15 compliance, so you can stay on top of mandatory revenue reporting.
You receive automated revenue reports which are day accurate, allowing for part-fees for mid-month subscriptions. There are also deferred revenue reports for predicting future cashflow. Chargify boast several prepaid mail providers as clients, including Mailgun, Mailjet, and Earth Class Mail.
Chargify is one of the best solutions for readymade integrations with different marketing tools, with over 50 at time of writing, including HubSpot, Salesforce, Xero, and Mailchimp. Their subscription management features are sophisticated, and all aimed at reducing subscriber friction — simple sign-up forms, easy subscription billing adjustment, and a self-service option for customers who want more control.
For B2B companies who are looking to scale big, Chargify provide everything you need and they have over a dozen years under their belt, compared to some of the newer offerings on this list. Pricing is very much on the enterprise end of the spectrum though, with three tiers:
- Essential: $599 a month plus 1% of revenue over $75K.
- Standard: $1499 a month plus 0.7% on overages.
- Specialized: $3499 a month plus 0.5% on overages.
There’s also custom pricing, which may work out more affordable if you’re an SMB.
ChartMogul’s focus is more on analytics than raw revenue, with dashboards reporting on MRR, ARR, Churn, LTV, and other metrics. Uniquely they offer data cleaning tools to ensure your subscription data continues to be maximally useful.
Integrations are strong with ChartMogul, with native links to Zendesk, Zapier, and over forty other apps, plus webhooks for automated alerts. You’ll still need a separate payment platform for your subscriptions, but integrations include Stripe, Chargify, Recurly and Paypal.
Customer support has been criticized by some users, but Capterra reviews frequently mention how thorough and useful ChartMogul’s real-time metrics and reporting functions are. If revenue accountability is a major priority, it’s a clever tool for subscription-based businesses.
ChartMogul's pricing is quite flexible — offering a Launch plan (free), Scale plan (starting at $100/month), and a Volume plan (starting at $15k/year).
The great thing about ChartMogul is that it's completely free for startups that are doing less than $10k in MRR. Once you surpass the $10k MMR mark, pricing will increase based on your revenue. For example, if you have $50k MRR you will pay $225/month. If you have $100k MRR you will pay $350/month. Based on these numbers, the price is quite justified for the value you are given. You'll never not be able to pay for ChartMogul because they only charge you when you have a substantial amount of revenue.
Rather than a single platform, Zuora is a suite of products for subscription-based businesses, branded as Zuora’s “Subscription Economy”. It includes tools for subscription billing software, revenue analytics, payments and more. Their biggest success story client is Zoom, who achieved triple-digit revenue growth over the last few years, with Zuora’s help. Other clients include ZenDesk, Bloomberg and Siemens.
Zuora isn’t a plug in and go product, being designed for maximum flexibility and customizability. However, if you have a good in-house development team, you can really make Zuora work to your advantage and gain a competitive edge.
Perhaps because they have so many products, and they are so adaptable, for pricing information you’ll have to contact Zuora’s sales department.
Unlike some of the platforms listed here, Chargebee has an international focus, with support for 25 languages and access to European payment providers as well as US-based ones. They aim to provide both revenue optimization and future scalability. They have over 67 pricing models, and aim to make it easier to experiment with, and optimize, new pricing strategies including freemium offers and metered charging.
As its name suggest, Chargebee is all about finding new ways to match your product to the price that customers want to pay, and to the way customers want their subscription fees calculated. Conversion strategies on offer include gift subscriptions, free trials, and other offers.
There are a good range of measures for revenue protection and risk mitigation too including Smart Dunning (notifying subscribers of failed payments). Chargebee is one of the strongest platforms for maximizing revenue. As well as a free basic version, there are pricing tiers at $99, $299, and $599 per month, with overage transaction fees ranging from 0.6 to 0.75%.
9. Verifone (previously 2Checkout)
2Checkout describes itself as “the all-in-one monetization platform” and, as its previous name suggests, it’s both an online revenue maximizer and a checkout alternative to Stripe or iZettle. Verifone offer a suite of tools for both retail spaces and online commerce.
Its subscription offerings are generous, with global digital payments accepted (over 15 major providers) and a suite of revenue recovery tools which Verifone suggest could save you up to 20% in lost subscription fees. These include dunning management, automated credit card updating, and sophisticated retry software which recovers failed payments.
There are also anti-churn measures on the platform including discounts and the ability to pause, rather than cancel, a subscription. Their analytics dashboards are sober and thorough, with support for segmenting subscriber cohorts to track different demographics separately.
Customer support faces some criticism on Capterra, although the global payment support is popular. Pricing is straightforward — their 2Subscribe package costs 4.5% plus $0.45 for successful sales (less for one-off transactions only).
Billsby’s main boast is that they support unlimited subscription plan experimentation. “If you dream it, we can build it” is their motto. They use Zapier to enable integrations, and offer over 2000, which makes Billsby one of the most integrable of the solutions in our rundown.
As well as subscription options, Billsby has “Products, Plans and Cycles”, a hierarchy of customizable elements designed to make it simpler to change existing subscription models, without starting from scratch. They even offer “hidden plans”, which are bespoke offers that your sales team can offer individual customers, without making them publicly available.
Discounts and coupon codes are supported, and there are invoices, reminder emails and churn-reduction measures too. Billsby might suit companies who want to maintain maximal flexibility on pricing. Fittingly, their own pricing is simple and flexible — just one core tier at $35 a month plus 0.4% on sales over$15,000 a month or custom pricing for high volume businesses.
Subscriptions are the Future of Product and Service Billing
Payment processing is an integral part to any subscription business. It’s important to integrate your SaaS product with a billing platform that gives you key insights on your customers’ subscription lifecycle, while also making it easy for customers to sign up to flexible plans.
Given the expansion in this sector, with subscription-based mobile and desktop apps for adding to the already burgeoning B2B market, now’s the time to invest in a subscription management platform. We hope our rundown of some of the very best subscription management tools, and recurring billing software, has proven helpful.
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