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Commerce6 min read

How to choose the right subscription commerce platform

Recurring revenue vs. subscription commerce

Subscription commerce is an increasingly popular business model, favored on a practical note because it enables businesses to generate recurring revenue in return for products and services that customers want or need on a regular basis. 

However, while the principle of a subscription commerce business is straightforward and revenue focused, creating a successful subscription business hinges on much more than the financial transaction. A successful subscription business must actively and continuously provide an experience that benefits the customer, meets their needs and monetizes the continuous customer relationship. To achieve that you need a mindset, systems and processes that work towards that common goal. 

In this article we look at the essential tool on which a successful business is built–the subscription commerce platform–exploring the key integrations and processes you should look out for in order to find the right one for your business.

Automation & integrations for subscription commerce

Automation and integration are key elements in subscription commerce platforms. Productivity soars when teams no longer have to contend with complicated manual work or spend months working on connecting systems. Building these capabilities down the line is labor intensive, complicated, costly and tends to lead to imperfect solutions. That’s why it’s important to research a platform’s offerings in advance.


Robust subscription logic

Look for a commerce platform that’s designed specifically for subscription models. Due to the continuous customer journey, subscription processes need to be well-connected from customer journeys to billing, accounting and analytics at all times. If the commerce platform only enables the product catalog and customer journey, you may need to invest a significant amount of custom development effort to build or streamline processes between multiple systems. This can lead to low scalability and high costs.


Autonomy and accuracy through automation

Features like automated sales tax calculation, billing, invoicing, contract fulfillment, payment collection, revenue recognition, rules and conditions can all help streamline your business operations. Automation and customer self-service can also provide individuals with autonomy in strategic areas of their relationship with you, which will enhance their experience and trust in your company. 


A seamless user experience through integration

While much of your subscription commerce system can be independent and self-sufficient, there are areas in which it must be able to integrate seamlessly with other software and tools you already use, in order to maximize the potential of your business. This includes your payment gateways, and customer relationship management (CRM) system. With that in mind, consider adopting a system that has pre-built integrations with reliable platforms and tools, or that provides good Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to easily build custom integrations. 

Automation and integration in your subscription commerce platform both have a direct impact on the quality of the user experience and customer experience. They also improve processes so that errors do not occur leading to lost revenue, customer churn or long-term challenges like sales tax compliance errors.


User experience in subscription commerce platforms

While so much of the subscription commerce system is about technology and processes, it must never be forgotten that these are all tools through which we seek to best serve the end users–especially, the customer.

Transactions don't automatically turn into relationships, and developing long-term customer relationships is essential for the success of a subscription business. It's for that reason that you need the right mindset for your subscription commerce platform as well as the right tools. In short, you should always consider user experience at each development stage.

Translating that mindset into the mechanics of your platform means developing an intuitive system that enables meaningful interactions with users. Once users are empowered by a great user interface (UI), orchestrating subscription processes becomes effortless and enjoyable.
By choosing a platform that prioritizes user experience, businesses also gain more resources on which they can perpetuate a positive cycle of learning, business growth and development.

The subscription commerce platform should enable you to:

  • Build products and services in line with customer wants and needs
  • Analyze customer behaviors
  • Experiment and adapt to market changes faster and grow revenue

Crucially, the user interface should be easy to use and understand, offering features like customizable branding, price and discount automation, guided selling, payment history tracking, auto-renewal, and email notifications.

Customizations & branding

Your business is unique, and your subscription system should reflect that. It's important that the authenticity of your ideas, products, services and company values are translated by your subscription commerce platform, and that it helps you to succeed and scale by leveraging those individual company qualities.

With that in mind, look for a subscription commerce system that simplifies customization options that help you create a user experience that aligns with your brand and meets the needs of your customers.

Features to look for are:

  • Capacity for custom branding
  • Flexible pricing plans
  • Configurable billing schedules

It's important to consider customizability when setting up a subscription business so you can minimize the complexities of switching systems down the line and as you grow. What's also important is that the system has the capacity to grow with you. In the context of customization, that particularly relates to the need to adapt to new use cases and introduce new offerings seamlessly.

Data & analytics in subscription commerce platforms

Arguably one of the most important features of a subscription business is its ability to evolve. That hinges on learning and understanding the customer, their behaviors, their user experiences with your company, and adopting a mindset that's focused on constant improvement. That's impossible to achieve strategically and effectively without the right resources and analytical tools to help you gather and understand the data, as well as act upon it in a timely, constructive manner.

Analytical tools in a subscription commerce
platform should enable you to:

  • Collect subscription events and leverage data to identify patterns and forecast future trends. This will enable your business to proactively address potential issues and capitalize on opportunities.
  • Provide insights into customer behavior, such as the likelihood of churn, expected lifetime value, and optimal pricing and marketing strategies.
  • Help you make data-driven decisions that improve customer retention, increase revenue, and drive growth.

A robust subscription architecture

All of these elements are essential parts of a subscription commerce platform that's built to proactively support business success. For that reason, keylight's subscription architecture has been developed to include everything that a modern subscription business needs. It is a unified subscription commerce experience that drives customer satisfaction, including all the key components to support a user-centric approach to subscription business success. Our subscription trinity hinges on three core areas: user experience, automation and predictive analytics.

Key capabilities include but are not limited to:

  • Configurable order journeys, such as shop & checkout, guided selling, upgrades, downgrades, and winback journeys to accelerate the go-to-market process.
  • Configurable customer self-serve portal and partner portal.
  • An elastic product catalog that remains lean at scale.
  • Billing and accounting automation that are seamlessly connected to commercial activities.
  • Event-driven approach to collect structured end-to-end data.
  • Sophisticated data engine that empowers teams to make informed decisions.
  • User-centric APIs that connect easily with existing platforms
keylight Insights

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