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How to create a subscription business

With the subscription industry booming, you'd think there would be an easy way to create a subscription shop nowadays. Guess again! We explore the most common ways to create a subscription shop and then we explain why Limio is the best way 😉

Use an eCommerce platform with some add-ons 😑

Shopify’s been around for more than 10 years, just like Wordpress, Magento or BigCommerce. It’s fantastic for e-commerce and has built an impressive ecosystem of applications around it. Some part of this ecosystem has tweaked Shopify to fit in subscription logic, the most popular being Bold Commerce and Recharge.


Having talked to many businesses with this setup, the feedback is that it is clunky but operationally, it works. The biggest problem is that it is inflexible for marketers. These platforms were built for eCommerce handling many SKUs, but in subscriptions, you’ve only got one SKU, your box, media or gym subscription, that you are slicing, dicing, re-packaging, bundling in hundreds of different ways to different audiences. You want to focus on your conversion flow, not your shop navigation. You need to experiment with different designs but are stuck with templates. You get flexibility you don't need and can't modify what actually matters. Another big problem is the data is shared across two platforms, making it really hard to find the answer to critical questions such as 'where are my customers coming from and what's their cost of acquisition and lifetime value?'.

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Use a subscription billing solution and build on top 😬

With the rise of Software-as-a-Service, a specific software industry has been built over the last 10 years: subscription billing. From IPO-ed leader Zuora to smaller players such as Recurly and Chargebee and new entrants like Stripe Billing, there is an abundant of options for smart billing.

These are brilliant billing tools, especially suited to B2B SaaS. But that’s what they are: billing tools. They won’t be helping you to create your subscription shop, your conversion flow, your retention tactics, your upsell logic. They won't get you a website live. So you buy something that gets you slightly closer to your goal: selling subscriptions. But you still have an awful lot of work to create your website, your landing pages, your checkout page, your manage-my-account dashboard, your cancel/save flow. Personalisation becomes a herculean task. And you are always at risk of creating something that doesn't quite work, that doesn't respect some odd billing logic. Also may I add: your consumers don't care about bills, when was the last time you looked at your Spotify receipt?

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Sell through the platforms 🤐
This is rarely a choice, more a recognition that consumers are on Apple, Facebook and Google - and you have to use these companies’ stores to reach them. If you are selling a mobile app without organic reach and presence, it can be pretty hard to sell direct to consumers. You can sell directly online, like Spotify and Netflix do. Their T&Cs are pretty clear that they won’t look kindly on you trying to get out of their 30% commission on digital products. But some like Spotify are pushing back on this.

Selling in-app subscriptions on app stores is not a breeze. Startups like RevenueCat have propped up to help developers get faster to market. Whatever you do though, you'll still be locked-in their templates and logic. But if you want full flexibility, you'll need to build your own online presence.

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Sell with Limio

Merchants using eCommerce platforms are frustrated about their clunkiness for subscriptions. Subscription billing users are frustrated about all the work still required to create your subscription shop. And platform users don't want to forever give 30% of their revenues away.

So we came up with a better approach, one that puts the focus on marketers, not operations. Limio helps businesses rapidly to launch and create a fully configurable subscription shop with easy access to more than 20,000 re-usable blocks (but you can also just build your own), backed up by subscription management capabilities which integrates with any billing platform. No more guesswork with strange logic, no need to cobble together solutions that weren’t made for you. But more importantly: total flexibility for the marketer. Want to experiment and A/B test a new conversion funnel with different messaging and pricing? You can! Want to have a ready-made checkout with different payment methods? Sure thing. Want to create some personalised landing pages for your ads? Go ahead. You can try new things without breaking any subscription operational logic, and most importantly, with native analytics telling you where your subscribers come from, what was the cost of acquisition, and what's their lifetime value.

You can spin up a shop and take subscription orders in hours. And if you are a new business, we offer new business discounts. Curious? Get in touch here

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