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Business Strategy7 min read

What is a subscription platform and what are the benefits of having one?

Subscription solutions on the market

Understanding subscription management & billing

A subscription platform provides the foundation on which your business can grow, delivering all the technology you need to run your business with functions that are distinct to subscription businesses. For example, that includes creating customer self-service journeys, enabling users to manage their subscriptions, automating contract changes and their knock-on effects, facilitating all facets of financial operations including automated billing, payment collection, and journal entries.

Choosing the right subscription platform is key to scaling your business, ensuring maturity while reducing manual overhead and custom development costs.


Why do you need a dedicated subscription business platform?

Growing on a solid technology foundation

When you first start your subscription business and you have very few customers to manage, you may well need nothing more than a good spreadsheet or a simple, traditional recurring billing software to keep track of things while you action everything manually. However, as your business grows, manual processes quickly become difficult or impossible to stay on top of accurately. Using a dedicated subscription business platform delivers multiple benefits and overcomes typical pain points for all users (staff and customers), to help your business grow and thrive. These include:

Optimal customer experience

A subscription business platform is designed specifically for the needs of subscription organisations, understanding that the customer experience is ongoing and needs to be both understood and nurtured, even after the initial point of sale. By enabling sophisticated capabilities such as great customer self-service and a personalised digital journey that includes product options, pricing, promotions and currencies that are tailored to the individual, you create experiences that customers trust, enjoy, recommend and are most likely to continue to use.

Advanced automation

Automation is essential in a subscription business that plans to grow for two reasons. The first is that by using a user-first approach that seamlessly and accurately automates processes such as invoicing, you minimise errors that can undermine customer trust or cause problems in your business's reporting or accounts.

By using a system that has automated workflows built in, you also reduce the time and financial resource that's needed for custom development, typical in platforms that are not built specifically for subscription businesses. This is both easier to manage and allows tech teams to focus on product development that will further your business rather than simply help it maintain the status quo.
Thirdly, automation gives you more control across the board, ensuring that sales representatives are selling products at the right price thanks to easily accessible product catalogues and implementable rules for various customer segments. It also reduces the manual efforts in complex business processes to maximise efficiency and accuracy.

Analytics and financial forecasting

Insights and understanding customer behaviour is an essential part of keeping a subscription business sustainable and successful. It's about a constant process of improvement and evolution in the product and service to minimise churn amongst existing customers, maximise the appeal to new customers and make accurate financial forecasts. 

To achieve that you need ongoing and connected, contextualised insights that allow you to see not only the what but the why, removing guesswork and hypotheses and giving clear, helpful information for next stage development. That's the hallmark of a really great subscription business platform.

What makes a good subscription system?

Attributes for a good subscription technology 

Of course, not all subscription systems are created equal, so what should you look out for when choosing a platform for your business?


Everyone is always under time pressure, but subscription businesses in particular move at pace. That means that speed of service, as well as speed of development, is really important in order to meet customer needs, stay on top of sales and understand customer behaviours in real time, as well as staying up to date in the market and against competitors.

Key attributes for a fast-moving subscription system include:

  • End-to-end features that provide everything a business needs from market entry and scaling to connectivity between those features to support repeat sales. For example, systems like commerce, CRM, billing and ERP should be integrated.

  • A configuration-based foundation that enables fast pricing and journey experimentation without sacrificing the user experience. At keylight this is achieved in the form of a rule-based approach that means you can explicitly create policies, write down how you want your business to run and put it into action. 


Technology, the market and the customer wants and needs are constantly evolving. Meanwhile, each customer will have specific preferences and requirements that suit them, whether it's their monthly invoicing date, the currency they're dealing in or the ability to upgrade or downgrade their product or service at key intervals. Fulfilling those needs and catering for the future ones you don't yet know about requires flexibility within your subscription system to make it agile and competitive. 

To achieve that you need ongoing and connected, contextualised insights that allow you to see not only the what but the why, removing guesswork and hypotheses and giving clear, helpful information for next stage development. That's the hallmark of a really great subscription business platform.

Key features for flexibility include:

  • The capability to launch pricing and journey experiments to sales channels at scale with minimal custom development. That includes the capacity to segment groups for A/B testing, tailored approaches for different market segments, and the ability to rapidly go-to-market while concepts and approaches are still relevant or ahead of the game so you can capitalise on them.

  • A modern architecture that seamlessly integrates into existing ecosystems, streamlining operations across teams and business units while reducing costs. For example, keylight's configuration-based approach means its subscription architecture allows businesses to adapt strategies quickly without the help of engineers and customization.



The goal of any subscription business is to scale up by maintaining current customers and looking for ways to encourage them to upgrade, as well as attracting and then keeping new customers. That scalability requires ongoing evolution and innovation as well as maintaining excellent customer experiences.

Key features for scalability include:

  • The facilitation of agility with a modern business platform that simplifies the rollout of multi-channel strategies and global initiatives.
  • The capacity for localised customer journeys, including details such as informed product pricing, local currencies, languages and regional time zones, effortlessly consolidated in one end-to-end platform.

How to choose the right subscription platform for your business?

The differences between subscription management & billing platforms

Choosing a subscription platform for your business can be daunting—every provider promises you the world, but it's not always easy to know the right questions to ask to make sure that you're getting what you need. Plenty of platforms talk about what's possible, but not how it's achieved, which can lead to a lot of hidden costs and complexities down the line. You may find it helpful to read our article on the first lesson of choosing a subscription business platform.

What's important is a combination of what it does today but how the business is designed to support the changing and unknown needs of tomorrow.

We recommend that you ask the following two questions:

  • How is the system's technical DNA designed to serve the requirements of a subscription business today and in the future?
  • Does it have configurable customer journeys and pre-built automation logic for different business scenarios—can you show me how they work?

Remember, if the answer is that they will develop custom-built solutions, it might be time to move on. Custom development might sound like the ultimate in bespoke offerings, but it's actually much more complicated and expensive to create and maintain than expected, and more often than not it's a hindrance to scalability. You want to be able to achieve bespoke outcomes for your business and your customers, but you don't want to require bespoke systems in order to get there. The great news is that you can have it all because that's exactly what keylight was built to offer. 

The keylight solution

Tailored solutions for subscription businesses of all sizes

keylight was developed for subscription businesses by a subscription business, with extensive experience integrating platforms before we developed our own. It was created to specifically meet the needs of subscription organisations, delivering the functionality that's not only necessary but desired in order to help businesses proactively grow in their space. It's founded on deep knowledge and experience of subscription technology, and provides a powerful system of end-to-end features, giving organisations a robust foundation on which to build their business vision and scale globally. We see ourselves not as a provider, but as a partner, personally invested in seeing your business succeed. 

Want to find out how keylight can support your business growth?
Request a demo or speak to a member of our team who would be happy to answer any of your questions.