Shopify subscription app

More and more online businesses are adopting the subscription model. It has no shortage of benefits—when you can reliably deliver a product your customers love, the subscription model turns one-time purchases into steady recurring revenue.

Luckily, there are lots of subscription apps available on the Shopify app store to help your online store grow. But with so many options available, how are you supposed to know which one is right for your business?

Here are some of the top things to keep in mind when choosing one.

Key takeaways

  • Your company's subscription service management tools need to suit your products and offerings—and your customers' needs.
  • To pick the right one, consider your budget, your business's trajectory, how flexible your subscription needs to be, and what other features you could benefit from.

The subscription model: an ideal way to drive recurring revenue

The subscription business model can be transformative for an ecommerce business. Businesses built on one-time transactions can be successful, of course, but they also come with some unpredictability. Customers make repeat purchases less frequently, revenue streams can be more variable, and plotting your growth trajectory (and planning the future of your business) can be more difficult.

Subscriptions can mitigate all of those factors. The recurring payments from an active subscription provides a solid foundation for your business to grow on, and as you gather information about customer behavior and subscriptions, you can make much more informed choices about your trajectory. And when customer acquisition is getting more expensive all the time, getting purchases on a recurring basis is a huge boost to your bottom line.

How to win in the routine economy

The key to maximizing the benefits of the subscription model lies in becoming essential to your customers’ daily lives. In our 2023 in Review report, we highlighted how the most successful sectors in ecommerce are the ones that have integrated into customers’ routines, providing the snacks, supplements, and skincare products that subscribers have come to rely on.

Everyday mainstays in the Beauty & Personal Care and Health & Wellness industries made huge gains in KPIs like monthly recurring revenue last year.

Take a look at our top tips on thriving in the routine economy.

What to consider when choosing a subscription app

There’s no shortage of options on the market—the Shopify app store offers dozens to pick from. One way or another, you’ll be able to find one that checks the most important boxes for your business. Let’s break down how to choose it.

Subscription setup

What are your business’s subscription options like? Do you carry a small assortment that ships to all of your customers on a set cadence? Then you may not need a feature-rich subscription app option, and you can look to other factors like budget and ease of use to guide your decision-making.

A screenshot of Bite's toothpaste subscription box, which ships on a four-month cadence.
Bite’s toothpaste bits ship on a set four-month cadence. Pre-set subscription plans like this are ideal for a product with predictable use and a small footprint.

On the other hand, if:

  • Your catalog is large and diverse
  • You want to provide multiple cadence or bundling options
  • Or you want customers to have lots of control over their own subscriptions

…then you’ll need an app with more robust configurations. Evaluate how flexible your options are—including hands-on product demos if available—to see which ones you’ll be able to mold into your ideal subscription setup.

Prioritize customers’ ease of managing subscriptions

Step one is picking an app that works for your subscription products. Step two is picking one that works for your customers.

Shoppers are becoming more particular about the subscription plans they’ll maintain, and they’re likely to drop one that won’t adapt to their schedules, budgets, or pantry space. To make sure your subscription box remains a necessity rather than a chore, make sure your app of choice makes subscription orders flexible. It should offer a combination of partial shipments, order skipping, rescheduling, frequency adjustments, and other measure to keep temporary circumstances from ending in a permanent cancellation.

An image of the subscription box options offered by Bumpin Blends.
Bumpin Blends’ smoothie subscription box provides endless customization options for cadence, amount, and flavors.

Pricing structure

Different apps target different businesses. Some are plug-and-play options designed for small businesses with a few customers, while others are enterprise software targeting larger-scale businesses—and the pricing scales for both usually match.

Of course, the first thing to consider is what you have the budget for now. But don’t forget to look forward, too. Your business may seem better-suited for a smaller option now, but if you’re ready to scale, you’ll want a subscription option that scales with you.

Bonus features

While some subscription apps will maintain a tight focus on subscriptions themselves, others fill out their offerings with additional features designed to help your business scale or solve other problems. Recharge, for example, offers features that enhance customer loyalty, reduce churn, and more.

The bottom line: when selecting a subscriptions app, pick one that meets your needs now—and one that will take your online store where you want it to go.

Customer support and documentation

The app’s out-of-the-box experience is just the beginning. The last thing you need is for a business-critical tool to turn out to have hidden configuration issues, a critical missing feature, or limited support options that mean you can’t get help when you need it most.

Before landing on an option, take a look at review and user testimonials to evaluate how responsive and helpful your vendor of choice is. Then check out their online resources to make sure their knowledge base and technical documentation are robust and accessible.

Connection & integration options

Just like pricing structure, your need for integrations will vary depending on your business. If you have a small team managing recurring orders and inventory, you may not need more from your subscriptions app than a snappy UI.

But as you scale, you may find that manually managing your offering is becoming a bottleneck. When that happens, you’ll likely want access to an API that you can integrate directly into your own codebase for efficient, hands-off, scalable subscription management. Recharge’s API, for example, supports virtually every feature on the Recharge platform for sophisticated integrations and easy scalability.

Tap into third-party extensibility

The potential for integration doesn’t end with your subscription app. Many of them actually provide the potential to extend your capabilities further with other tech options. As you grow and explore new capabilities, take a look at the tech other brands are using to see what other problems you can solve for your business.

How to know your subscription app is working for you

After implementing a subscription app, you’ll want to make sure it’s delivering as expected. Keep an eye on key stats like churn and retention—these are the most direct measure of customers’ satisfaction with your subscription experience overall. If they start to spiral, you may be lose customers faster than you can sustain.

There are lots of potential causes, so make sure you’re also collecting data from customers to find out why. Some apps contain features like Recharge’s Cancellation Prevention, which can poll customers about why they’re cancelling (and even provide personalized alternatives!). Find the most frequent cancellation reasons to determine which area to focus on: subscription management options, product quantities, pricing, etc.

Tons of options, one perfect fit

With so many subscription management options built for Shopify, just picking one can be an undertaking. But with some careful attention to the needs of your online store—pricing, featureset, flexibility—and to how your customers like to manage subscriptions, you’ll be able to narrow down the field in no time.


[1] (1-800-D2C)

[2] (Shopify App Store)