5 August 2019

What is Subscription Management Software and Why You Need It

See all blog posts

Let’s face it: the subscription-based model provides you with loads of valuable customer data but, unless you hire a full-time data analyst, it’s impossible to make full use of them. Moreover, managing subscription plans of every single subscriber manually is a real nightmare. That’s why subscription management software has been created. What is it and how to make the most of it?

Straal Subscription Management Software

Subscription Business Models’ Challenges

When you operate in any subscription-based business model, you enjoy numerous benefits resulting from the prevalence of recurring transactions over one-off deals. Apart from revenue predictability and liquidity, savings in operational costs or increased customer retention figures (discover more benefits here), you get an extra bonus in the form of detailed customer statistics. As subscribers stay with you for longer, they provide you with more information about themselves. Thanks to that, instead of, well, guessing, you are able to make data-based generalizations about your subscriber segments. And this, obviously, empowers your marketing and sales.

If you’re a newly-founded startup or launch a completely new service, handling the amount of data your customers deliver may not be problematic. If, by contrast, your business is already scaling up or have grown to a substantial size, this quantity might be overwhelming. In that case, it’s useless trying to calculate everything manually and draw conclusions as it simply takes too much time. Fortunately, payment technology is here to help: you can make use of subscription management software.

Apart from facilitating data usage, such solutions are a blessing for those who manage a number of diverse subscription plans and, logically, a much higher number of subscriber accounts. Again, doing it manually is extremely time-consuming and requires significant human resources. With a subscription manager, account management becomes easier and highly automated. So, what exactly is that?

Subscription Management Definition

Subscription management software (aka subscription manager or recurring billing software) is a platform that allows you to manage subscription plans offered by your business and your subscribers’ accounts as well as monitor the recurring revenue generated by your business. In a nutshell: it automates certain procedures connected with your subscription services and facilitates handling your subscribers’ data.

Subscription managers may be both:

  • external software functioning independently of your payment gateway,
  • an integral part of your payment gateway accessed through API and online dashboard.

In the first case, your payment service provider doesn’t offer you a subscription manager, the consequence being the necessity to buy external software serving exclusively this purpose. Apart from generating redundant costs, it requires your IT department to perform an extra integration, which always consumes much of their time. It’s worth adding that companies offering independent subscription management software can’t guarantee compatibility with your payment gateway. In fact, they usually enable integrating their product only with the most popular payment gateways although there are literally thousands of them on the market. All in all, it’s quite likely that you’ll have difficulties doing so.

In the second case, your payment gateway provider gives you access to their integral product. Not only does it save your money but also eliminates the necessity of integrating other software. Thanks to that, you can start working with your subscription manager much earlier. Additionally, you save much of your developers’ time.

Theoretically speaking, there’s one more option: developing your own subscription manager. It’s not recommended, though, unless it’s meant to serve enterprise purposes. When done internally with the use of one’s IT department, it takes much of the developers time (let’s not forget the cost of their work) and doesn’t guarantee undisturbed performance. In fact, one should expect many errors and integration problems at the beginning of the usage. Subscription manager development may be also outsourced but, believe me, it requires significant resources.

How Subscription Managers Work

Numerous payment companies offer subscription managers with diverse functionalities yet not all the products available will meet your requirements: these, of course, differ from business to business. Nevertheless, there are several common denominators, i.e. basic features all quality subscription managers have:

  • subscription plans definition: your subscription management software should enable you to create various subscription plans (e.g. basic, pro and premium) to be included in your offering; within the plan, you should be able to set the plan name, billing frequency and billing quote (if needed, also a free trial duration),

Straal subscription plan definition

  • subscriber account management: your subscription manager should let you manage your subscribers’ accounts, i.e. assign them specific subscription plans or cancel them permanently; it’s also convenient to be able to update a subscriber’s payment method (e.g. when their credit cards expire),
  • subscribers’ transactions history: subscription management software should provide you with an overview of a given subscriber’s transactions and billing cycles within their current plan as well as the previous ones; it’s also a feature allowing monitoring your subscribers’ lifecycles,
  • billing automation: your subscription manager should enable you to collect scheduled subscription payments automatically (commonly, through the use of card-on-file payments or direct debits) without the need to trigger collecting manually; additionally, it may give you the possibility to make refunds when needed,
  • payments optimization: subscription management software should optimize your recurring payments collection, e.g. increase transaction approval rate (learn more about Straal Smart Retry solution),
  • recurring revenue overview: your subscription management software should deliver meaningful statistics visualized in an easy-to-digest form (such as charts) that will facilitate making informed marketing and sales decisions on a daily basis; it should be both information about your subscribers and the revenue stream they generate.

Straal recurring payments overview

Subscription Management Benefits

As stated before, utilizing subscription managers is connected with numerous, measurable benefits. They are connected with your operational activities, marketing planning, financial management and many other areas. Although these benefits are nearly infinite, the most important ones include:

  1. facilitated financial planning: subscription managers allow you to monitor your recurring revenue in an easy way thanks to clear data visualization; as you know exactly where your revenue come from (i.e. which subscription plans generate most income) and what resources you may expect in the following cycle, you may plan your operational spending accurately,
  2. marketing data delivery: customer statistics provided by your subscription management software are a great foundation for marketing planning: subscriber segmentation, customer lifecycle management, up- and cross-selling applying and much more; easy subscription plans management also enables A/B testing aimed at creating more profitable pricing,
  3. customer help support: subscription managers provide you with a clear subscriber experience history, so when a problem appears, you may access their transaction history easily; additionally, you can make a refund as well as subscription plan modification or cancellation right from the manager dashboard level,
  4. time and money saving: subscription managers delivered by third-party companies eliminate the need to create such a solution yourself which saves your IT department’s time (and your money spent on developers’ salary) or, in the case of outsourcing, much of your financial resources.

Our Approach to Subscription Management

Straal Subscription Manager is an example of a reliable, well-designed subscription management product. Merchants receive it in addition to our analytical-managerial platform Kompas, delivering meaningful payment statistics of one’s online business. It’s an integral part of our suite of solutions, including also payment gateway and risk management system so when contracting us, you can get an all-in-one package, which eliminates the need to integrate the subscription management software with external products. Thanks to that, once integrated with your website or product, our subscription manager is ready to use and it functions without redundant yet resource-consuming errors.

Straal subscription plan details

Our solution contains all the essential features of a high-quality subscription management software and, additionally, optimizes your payments collecting. This smart feature allows you to enjoy all the benefits of the subscription-based business model and take maximum advantage of the most popular payment method in the online world.

Should you have more questions as to how subscription management software works, our Sales Team is here to help you – just drop us an email and we’ll be happy to resolve your doubts!

Tomasz Kobylarz

Vice President of Engineering

Tomasz is a professional technologist who brings over 8 years of experience to his role with a broad background in product development within the fintech, retail, and banking sectors. Owing to his expertise and profound stakeholder management skills, throughout his career, he has excelled in creating, certifying and implementing innovative payment systems in Poland, Australia, France, Central Europe and the US.

At Straal, Tomasz is accountable for strategic product development, integrating business with technology as well as managing and expanding Straal’s Engineering Team.

Before joining Straal, he spent several years holding leadership positions at Diebold-Nixdorf, AEVI International and Applause Inc.

You might also like...
TOP 5 FinTech Podcasts Worth Tuning In To
7 August 2020

Podcasts are considered to be one of the most impactful media of the digital industry. As of July 2020, there were over 850 000 active podcasts in more than 100 languages (!). It’s impossible to try out every single one, that is why we’ve curated the top 5 fintech-related podcasts with a solid “recommended by Straal” label, including FinTech legend's podcast Brett King's Breaking Banks, 11:FS experts and much more.

Read more
Merchants to follow #2: Cateringoo. A simply delicious business idea
31 July 2020

Get the inside look at the catering industry with our second 'Merchants to follow episode' preseting Cateringoo - a simply delicious business catering brand. Discover, how has the pandemic affected the online on-demand food delivery services market and what did the Cateringoo team do when, due to the lockdown, the number of orders almost dropped to zero?

Read more
Merchants to follow #1: Piesotto. Polish Pioneers of Pet Food Subscriptions
27 May 2020

Learn how Piesotto - a company founded by some true dog lovers out of genuine care for their four-footed “kids” - has become a leading subscription-based pet food supplier in Poland and one of the cutest brands we have ever seen.

Read more
Lexical functional programming — jargon and naming convention
18 May 2020

"Everything flows", said Heraclitus. The reactive paradigm followers like to say that "everything is a stream". The phrase attributed to Heraclitus is valid for both functional and reactive paradigms. In the first one, we have pipelines, in the second one - streams. That testifies to the significant similarity between these paradigms and shows that reactive programming (but more FRP) is, in fact, an asynchronous implementation of a functional flow.

Read more
C2B Bank Accounts. Filling the Missing Link to the Open Banking Revolution
29 April 2020

The Open Banking Revolution is happening right now. When it comes to online payments, initiating transactions via banking APIs is undoubtedly a gamechanger for the whole ecosystem. But access to tech-savvy corporate banking is limited. Fortunately, challenger banks come to the rescue. Here is what you need to know.

Read more
Ecommerce Management Issues Most Entrepreneurs Forget About: Part II
20 April 2020

In my previous entry, I listed several strategic ecommerce issues omitted by most mid-sized businesses when launching online sales. You already know that most of the starting-point mistakes result from treating an online shop just like another physical store. Here goes the second part where you’ll find even more topics to tick on your strategic to-do list.

Read more
Ecommerce Management Issues Most Entrepreneurs Forget About: Part I
6 April 2020

Ever more companies develop online sales channels, also in traditionally offline industries. Big players apply advanced ecommerce management strategies, which increase the chances of e-success, but smaller entities tend to neglect the strategic part. In this entry, I explain why it’s a mistake and what strategic issues to mind in the context of ecommerce management.

Read more
Choosing Payment System for MaaS App: What to Remember
3 March 2020

The MaaS market is one of the most prominent beneficiaries of the development of digital economy. MaaS apps have not only changed the way people commute but also how they pay for it. Increasingly often, payments affect the competitiveness of MaaS companies. What makes payment solutions so important for the MaaS industry, and what to mind while choosing a payment platform for a mobility system?

Read more
In Search of an International Payment Gateway
6 February 2020

The decision to start selling internationally is a big step for every company. There’s much more strategic planning involved in the process than it may seem at first glance. One of the technical challenges that online merchants face is the choice of an international payment gateway. How to pick the right one? What features matter most when selling internationally? I’ve listed them for you.

Read more
5 Subscription Business Trends to Watch in 2020
8 January 2020

2019 was another year of massive migrations to the subscription-based business model. The subscription market has grown substantially, taking over nearly all product and service categories one can think of. Nonetheless, it has not saturated yet, and every subscription business owner should keep track of the tendencies shaping consumer habits. What to expect in 2020? See our list of major trends!

Read more
5 Vendor Lock-In Strategies for Your Online Business
18 December 2019

Why do you keep using Android despite its common errors? Or not change your bank although its mobile app drives you crazy? The answer is simple: you’ve been locked-in. If you want to retain your customers with the same effectiveness, take a look at our 5 vendor lock-in strategies crafted for online businesses and take advantage of the lock-in effect and switching costs management!

Read more
How (and Why) Subscription Model Works
27 November 2019

You may have heard about the ongoing subscription boom. Every month, more and more subscription-based companies enter the market. Some of them change the rules of the game while other disappear in no time. Go through this entry to learn how to join the former: embrace the subscription business model with all of its pros and cons, and translate this knowledge into profitable decisions!

Read more
KYC: What Does it Mean in Online Payments?
5 November 2019

Once you have gone through dozens of websites explaining how to open an e-store, terms such as KYC or merchant onboarding may ring a bell with you. You will deal with them before jump-starting your online business, so understanding what they mean in advance is going to save you much time. What is KYC in the context of online payments and how does it relate to the merchant onboarding procedure?

Read more
Prepaid vs. Postpaid: Models Comparison
10 October 2019

Prepaid or postpaid: that is the question. Which payment model should you choose for your business to simplify user experience and boost the company’s revenue? Should your customers add money to an e-wallet and be limited by the amount paid upfront or be charged after every single use of your service? In this blog entry, I compare both approaches using the Mobility-as-a-Service industry as an example.

Read more
How to Prepare Your Website for Online Payments
18 September 2019

Online payments are a must-have in the e-commerce world. Period. The times when you gave the clients your bank account number are far behind us. Once you find your perfect-match payment service provider, you should prepare your website/application for accepting online payments. Why is it so important and what to keep in mind while getting ready?

Read more
What is One-Click Payment and How to Use it Smartly
26 August 2019

Reducing your online checkout process to a single click is tempting, isn’t it? In the face of phenomena such as the *mobile first* approach, demand for instant gratification among young generations of consumers, and conversions taking a matter of milliseconds, one-click payment might seem to be the Holy Grail of modern online commerce.

Read more
Optimizing Card Payments: Smart Retry
19 July 2019

In the face of Subscription Economy, offering your merchandise in the form of a subscription-based service may seem tempting. Before you pivot, however, it is worth getting familiar with technology designed to make recurring payments more effective. Here comes Smart Retry aimed at increasing card authorization rate. How does it work and why should you implement it?

Read more
What to Look for in a Payment Gateway? Part II
19 June 2019

In my previous entry, I have proposed some basic questions an online merchant should ask before selecting a payment gateway. If you run a subscription-based business, you should get acquainted with several extra questions specific to your business model. A subscription-friendly payment gateway is a way to gain higher control over your business.

Read more
What to Look for in a Payment Gateway? Part I
10 June 2019

If you’re reading this, you’re probably searching for the best tool to collect payments from your customers and need to understand the differences between diverse solutions available on the market. Here’s a brief guide to selecting the right payment gateway for your online business.

Read more
Subscription Metrics to Track and Optimize
9 May 2019

Customer retention is paramount for companies operating in the subscription-based model. One should learn how to measure it and make the most of the statistics at hand. What subscription metrics to track? And how to convert them into actionable insights?

Read more
Predicting Your Subscriber’s Behavior
25 April 2019

Despite the uniqueness of every customer, the purchasing process they carry out doesn’t vary so much from one to another: they follow specific patterns. The marketing concept of customer lifecycle can help you improve your commercial effectiveness. Learn how to make the most of your subscribers' behavior analysis.

Read more
New Chargeback Thresholds – Don’t Panic. Get Ready.
15 April 2019

As of October 1st, 2019, Visa, the world’s largest card organisation, is updating its fraud and chargeback monitoring policy. Will it affect you? If you accept cards online – it certainly will. Should you be concerned? Not necessarily, if you have a well-thought risk management strategy. If, however, you do not yet have any fraud prevention mechanisms on board, you better hurry up in getting some.

Read more
Customer Transaction Costs and How to Cut Them
28 March 2019

Selling is all about addressing your customers’ needs. Offline or online, you seek to get to know your clients and offer them what they’re looking for. However, it’s a human thing that we like when things go quickly and effortlessly. On the internet, we can shop the way we like: saving our time and effort. But is it enough to let your customers buy online? Can you still make their shopping experience less absorbing?

Read more
6 Subscription Business Trends for 2019
30 January 2019

2018 was without a doubt prosperous for subscription businesses. The model has matured, evolved and boldly developed in a number of new industries and markets. Here’s a list of 6 trends that will have the greatest impact on companies operating in the subscription model in 2019: trends one cannot afford to overlook if they aim high on this promising yet ever more competitive market.

Read more
Anything-as-a-Service: the Future of Distribution
16 January 2019

Anything-as-a-Service (or XaaS) is a product distribution model, where companies shift from selling products to providing their value proposition as a service. Since XaaS can, quite literally, be anything, it isn’t hard to get lost in the jumble of buzzwords, jargon and concepts. This brief article will help you get an in-depth understanding of the new, service-based economy.

Read more
4 Tips to Win the Holiday Shopping Season
22 November 2018

Whilst Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or “Black Friday Weekend and Cyber Week” according to some experts, do not mean as much as, say, 2-3 years ago, the pre-x-mas shopping spree is still among the key determinants of the thickness of your top line. Here’s how to - in the realm of intangible merchandise - make the most of the daddy of all holiday sales.

Read more
3 Tips to Grow Your Online Business
15 October 2018

Simplicity of User Experience, efficient billing model and a well-thought risk management strategy. These are the keys to unlock your business potential on the ever more competitive market of digital services, as uncovered by e-commerce professionals at the very first edition of Warsaw Ecommerce Tech Sessions (WETS) – a new series of meetups powered by Straal and Business Link.

Read more
Your Business in the Face of Fraud
17 July 2018

Have you fallen victim to fraud? If the answer is "yes", I assume you have learnt your lesson and already thoroughly inspected what went wrong. The “no” answer does not exist in the case of fraud. It’s only “not yet”. Be my guest and let me invite you to explore the dark side of ecommerce.

Read more
Is the Freemium Strategy Right for Your Startup?
20 May 2018

Look at you, a fledgling entrepreneur at the threshold of international success. I bet it feels fantastic to see your idea come to life. So now that you’re inevitably positioned for success, give your product away for free - that's how the freemium model works. But is it really that simple?

Read more
When One Second Costs $2.5 Million
17 April 2018

Your customers won’t wait or engage in cumbersome processes to get your products and - if your competitors are able to provide the service faster – why would they? Straal presents the mathematics of instant e-commerce. Lean on these statistics to put your business in the fast lane!

Read more
The Essentials of Subscriber Experience
28 February 2018

In the times of flourishing sharing economy, we’re renting, sharing and getting access to everything we need. The line between products and services is becoming thinner and thinner, whereas possession is no longer guarantee for the customer satisfaction. What is in that case?

Read more
4 Reasons to Migrate to the Subscription Business Model
8 February 2018

Do you remember the first time you sold your product or signed a contract for your service? I bet it felt good. Do you know what feels even better? Becoming a trusted provider of your services and products to your loyal customers. That lasting feeling is what the subscription-based business model holds in store for success-hungry entrepreneurs.

Read more
3 Must-knows about the Role of Payment Solutions
16 January 2018

How do payment solutions chosen by your company influence your business performance? It's important to decide on such that will not only meet your current requirements but also support your development strategy in the long term and smoothly scale your business.

Read more
5 Things You Should Know about the Payment Ecosystem
30 November 2017

Fintech insiders oftentimes erroneously assume that consumers, let alone merchants, know much more about the payment ecosystem than they actually do. This might lead to disturbing misunderstandings, make companies miss business opportunities, consumers get a headache and vendors fritter away their marketing budgets.

Read more
Show more releases