September 23, 2020

What We Know About Shopify Checkout’s Subscription Offering

Heard about Shopify’s plans to offer merchants the ability to process subscription orders with Shopify checkout? Here’s what you need to know.

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Have you heard about Shopify’s plans to offer the ability to process subscription orders in Shopify checkout? They first announced this back in May 2019 at Unite and reiterated their plans this past summer at Reunite. With the caveat that this could change, we want to shed some light on the topic and provide you with more information to help make sense of what will be available, by when.

There are several subscription solutions for Shopify merchants, including Upscribe, ReCharge and Bold. All subscription solutions currently leverage an Upscribe, ReCharge or Bold checkout for subscriptions since subscription orders cannot currently be processed by Shopify (i.e. when a customer is purchasing a product on a recurring basis, they use Upscribe’s, ReCharge’s or Bold’s checkout).

Going forward, Shopify prefers that subscription solutions use Shopify checkout for processing subscription orders. With these changes, customer acquisition would happen through Shopify’s checkout, but customers would continue to log into Upscribe’s, ReCharge’s or Bold’s customer portal to manage their subscriptions. Essentially, the only thing that’s changing is the processing of the first subscription order – not the customer portal or any part of the subscription experience post-first purchase.

Based on recent communications with Shopify, beta access to integrate with their new checkout is slated for later this year, if not early 2021. It may happen sooner, it may not. What we do know is this: the new checkout requires users to checkout with Shopify Pay (not Stripe, Braintree or other payment processors). So existing subscribers might have to re-enter their payment details using Shopify Pay because merchants won’t be migrating payment data. And while new subscribers could use Shopify Pay, merchants would be forced to manage multiple payment profiles for customers.

We also don’t know how Shopify checkout’s subscription offering will handle discounts, trials, upsells or other features that relate specifically to subscription programs. Again, the basic offering is still being worked out and it’s unclear when these and other features will be developed and released. So the new offering is a potential option for merchants that are looking to start basic subscriptions but not ideal for merchants with existing subscribers.

At Upscribe, our approach is and always has been merchant-first. That’s why we’re going to provide merchants with the option to use Shopify checkout for subscriptions the moment it’s available (and stable) or let merchants continue to use Upscribe’s checkout. There may be advantages to the former down the road, but as it stands, we don’t think it makes sense for merchants with existing subscribers right now.

Feel free to reach out to us directly at support@upscribe.io for more information.

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