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What is SaaS Subscription Management?
SaaS subscription management is, as the name suggests, the process of managing subscribers and their preferences. It refers to a broad range of subscription lifecycle operations including assigning credits or issuing refunds. Subscription management involves billing actions that cannot be scheduled, unlike recurring billing. Subscription management starts as soon as a customer signs up to your company’s services and ends whenever they leave or cancel the subscription.
Subscription managers can be both an external software and an integral part of your payment gateway.
What are the differences between Online subscription management and recurring billing?
As mentioned above, subscription management includes operations that cannot necessarily be automated.
Subscription management is an interaction between a business and its customers like changes to the subscription, customer communication and other customer-oriented tasks. Recurring billing, on the other hand, takes care of generating invoices and tracking payments. Subscription management and recurring billing work hand in hand and are often used interchangeably, although incorrectly.
Benefits of SaaS subscription management
Subscription management has one definite advantage: it covers the entire customer lifecycle from start to finish. We can divide the subscription management benefits into three categories:
- sign-up - SaaS subscription management can be used to provide discounts for customers, free trials for the undecided visitors and trial extension.
- during subscription - when you gain a customer this is where subscription management starts to shine. From now on, it will cover upgrades and downgrades of the subscription plans as well as inform the customers about upcoming payments, updates and new features.
- after cancelling - when a customer leaves, you can still use subscription management to ask for feedback
- customer help - a SaaS subscription management platform provides a subscription experience history, you may access transaction history easily and make a refund, modify the plan or cancel it
- marketing data - the software will provide you with customer statistics, which is a great foundation for marketing planning, some of them also enable A/B testing
- time and money saving - subscription management software eliminates the need to outsource the management
- financial planning - subscription managers monitor revenue and visualize it so you can keep track of your income, find out which subscription generates the most income or plan your future spendings
There are many subscription management solutions that SaaS companies can choose from. Among the most popular we can distinguish Stripe, BrainTree, Recurly, Chargebee, Sage, Zuora and Chargify.
Best subscription management software in 2020
Stripe is known for being extremely easy to use and to integrate. The system uses flexible APIs making it a great option for startups. It is a great example of a hybrid system equipped with a payment gateway, a subscription management platform and a merchant account. However, Stripe is a good base for billing but should be integrated with a subscription management platform with a greater range of features.
Developers tend to choose Stripe because it is developer-friendly with its easy setup process. The well-designed API and great documentation are what makes Stripe popular among companies like Kickstarter, Foursquare or Code School. What is more, it can be integrated with tools like Wufoo, Quaderno and Baremetrics.
BrainTree does not require implementation with a separate payment management system. It was created to provide a transparent system connecting multiple payment options. BrainTree works great across mobile and web platforms. It is an amazing option for both freelancers, small companies as well as large industries. What is more, Braintree has no minimum or monthly fees.
Braintree is a PayPal service so it is often chosen because of its well-designed API and the fact that it is developer friendly. Companies like Uber, Airbnb and Heroku use it in for their subscription management ventures.
Recurly is a great choice for SaaS companies that are freshly getting started with billing services. It can be used on top of payment gateway services. Recurly includes features like analytics and revenue recognition. It is often used together with Stripe.
This subscription management service is said to have a great recurring billing option and promoting simplicity. It works with multiple gateways and that is why Linkedin, Groupon and Twitch use it.
Chargebee can handle all of the SaaS billing needs, which means billing, subscriptions, analytics etc. Thanks to the many options to customize the customer plans it is great for scaling. Chargebee has great, clear documentation which is appreciated by the users. However, with this solution, you will also need a payment gateway to process payments.
What is more, Chargebee is used by Soylent, Findify and Livestorm and can be easily integrated with MailChimp, Google Analytics and Salesforce Sales Cloud.
Sage allows its clients to leverage comprehensive financial controls and streamline business processes. The system includes features like: subscription billing, accounting, inventory management, financial reporting or revenue recognition - all cloud-based.
Sage ensures financial control, security and compliance. It automates processes to reduce labor and save costs. It is the 3! rated revenue management software in customer satisfaction by G2.
Zuora is an evangelist of the Subscription Economy. At the heart of Zuora is an enterprise platform Zuora Central which is a solution between CRM and ERP. Central orchestrates all subscription processes in real-time. Zuora’s applications handle subscription pricing, orders, quoting, billing and payments. It is used by companies like Tata Communications, Ustream or Box. Enterprise leaders use Zuora’s multi-tenant cloud platform Z-Central to scale, launch and monetize subscription services.
Chargify was built having fast-growing B2B SaaS businesses in mind. It is a billing and revenue management platform and is a leader in recurring billing and subscription management. It enables businesses to optimize, create and adapt their offers as well as manage change over time. It is used by thousands of businesses helping them drive billions in annual revenue. Chargify removes billing bottlenecks providing you with flexibility and speed.
Choosing the best subscription management solution is a hard decision to make. Apart from the obvious aspects about the usability of a given solution we can also take into consideration the popularity of said solutions. However, each of the platforms has its own unique features and will definitely help your business grow.
If you need help with integration of those platforms or an entire team of developers, contact our experienced team of engineers that will help you accelerate your online business, retain customers and gain new ones.