Shopify Recently released their Subscription App functionality to great excitement. As Shopify Certified Partners, we were able to get an early look at the Shopify Subscription functionality. Subscriptions are an important part of many of our customers’ e-commerce sites, so we are always interested in new platform capabilities. Historically we have implemented Subscription tools like Recharge, OrderGroove, Bold Apps, but have always felt that the integrations were cumbersome and that subscriptions needed to be integrated into the core platform. Well, now it is.
So, is this the demise of Recharge, OrderGroove, Bold Apps and other Subscription App providers? Probably not. Rather we expect them to evolve their offerings to take advantage of the new Shopify functionality. Here is why…
Shopify only launched a Framework for Subscriptions that can be used by 3rd party apps, NOT a complete subscription solution. The implication is that 3rd party apps need to be developed to manage many parts of the subscription lifecycle. These parts will likely be done by existing subscription app providers. Here is a summary table from Shopify of what is included in the Shopify Subscription App versus not included:
The Shopify launch does deliver two really, really important components; namely (1) a single checkout flow for one-time purchases and subscription purchases, and (2) management of subscription products inside Shopify.
Let’s dive into these changes:

1. Single Checkout Flow for One-Time Purchases and Subscription Purchases

Before the Shopify Subscription App, customers with a subscription product in their cart would checkout through a 3rd party checkout funnel. Some of the implication of this include:

  • Different branding for the two checkout funnels
  • Setup of payments, taxes and shipping for the two checkout funnels
  • Different analytics / metrics on the two checkout
  • Multiple payment and tax accounts for a merchant to reconcile
  • Customer order information in different systems
  • The need to maintain promotions in different systems
  • Shopify Reports would not have analytics details
  • Customer support admins cannot not place subscription orders for customers directly through Shopify

Going forward (once 3rd party subscription apps evolve to take advantage of the Shopify Subscription components), customers should have a single checkout funnel with one place to manage subscription-related customers and orders.

2. Management of Subscription Products Inside Shopify:

Merchants would not be able to manage subscriptions within Shopify. Rather products would be synched to a 3rd party subscription app and the merchant would have to make updates to the products in multiple places. Going forward (once subscription apps evolve to take advantage of the Shopify Subscription components), Merchants will be able to edit their products and enable / disable subscription options directly on the product pages.

The Bottom Line

So, will Recharge, OrderGroove, or Bold Apps be replaced by the Shopify Subscription solution? No, rather we anticipate that they will evolve and incorporate the Shopify functionality to provide a more streamlined user experience. If they don’t, other 3rd party apps will launch to meet their customer’s needs.
It remains to be seen how they integrate the functionality and the implications to their existing customers. Stay tuned for an update once more details are available.