The 5 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Subscriptions

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Read on for everything you need to know about the best ecommerce platforms for subscriptionsno subscription required…


We recently put the best ecommerce platforms through a second round of testing, all to see which of them deliver the best features for businesses selling subscriptions online.

We’ll also advise on the different price plans you should choose, and the apps or features you should use.

Squarespace retains top spot, boasting an improved ease of use score and a stronger range of in-house features catered towards selling subscriptions. More about these later.

For everything else and more, check out our comparison table below then keep on reading for individual reviews…

The 5 best ecommerce platforms for subscriptions

Ecommerce platformRequired price planExtra app/feature needed?
SquarespaceCommerce Advanced  (£30/month)No
WixBusiness Unlimited (£16/month)

Business VIP (£22/month)

No
ShopifyAny (£22 – £219/month)Yes – we recommend PayWhirl 
BigCommerceAny (£22 – £220/month)Yes – we recommend Rebillia Platform
SquareAny (£0 – £54/month)Recurring Invoices feature

Ready to subscribe to more info? Great. Let’s look at each platform in more detail…


1.  Squarespace – Commerce Advanced plan (£30 per month)

Squarespace is the best ecommerce platform for subscriptions because it offers the great value for money, making it one of our top ecommerce platforms for small businesses, too.

In terms of selling subscriptions, we like the order automation feature. Once a customer purchases their first subscription, Squarespace then handles all the subsequent orders, meaning you don’t need to worry about follow up emails or rebilling issues.

Squarespace has also recently introduced an in-house scheduling tool, allowing visitors to book non-physical products like appointments and subscriptions.

However, while your customers can now book digital subscriptions quickly and easily, Squarespace doesn't support the sale of digital variants. 

Read Full Squarespace Review

Fancy saving on Squarespace? You can get 10% off your Squarespace subscription by entering code EM10 at the checkout.
squarespace subscriptions

Pros

  • Excellent multi-channel integration – sell your subscriptions via Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and more
  • No extra app costs to worry about, unlike with Shopify or BigCommerce
  • Order automation feature means you don’t need to worry about rebilling or sending follow up emails

Cons

  • You cannot create free subscription products
  • Wix has more affordable price plans
  • Cannot sell digital product variants

How to offer subscriptions on Squarespace:

  1. Sign up to the Commerce Advanced plan.
  2. Enable the customer accounts feature, so visitors can save their details on your website.
  3. Sell only physical or service-based products (you can’t sell digital subscriptions).
  4. Use Stripe as your payment processor (it’s not possible through, PayPal, Squarespace’s only other supported payment processor).
Squarespace is the best ecommerce platform for subscriptions that we tested

2. Wix – Business Unlimited (£16 per month) or VIP plan (£22 per month)

The (close) second-best ecommerce platform for subscriptions is Wix, the creative-focussed and user-friendly option with two suitable price plans.

When we first tested Wix, you could only integrate your store with Instagram. Now, you can sell via Facebook, eBay, Amazon, and Google Shopping. Wix now supports drop-shipping, too, which might suit your subscription-based business if you don't want to handle much of the delivery logistics.

As always, you can add product videos to help visitors better understand your subscription products – a customer experience that most other platforms can't offer.

Overall, Wix is an affordable and easy-to-use option for you to start selling physical and service-based subscriptions.

Read Full Wix Review

wix subscriptions

Pros

  • Add product videos to improve the buyer’s experience
  • Excellent SEO tools to help search engine users find your business more easily
  • More affordable price plans than Squarespace, Shopify, and BigCommerce

Cons

  • Knowledge Centre could be more helpful
  • Cannot switch templates after you go live unlike on Squarespace, Shopify or BigCommerce
  • The editor page can sometimes feel clustered

How to offer subscriptions on Wix:

  1. Sign up to the Business Unlimited or Business VIP plan.
  2. Connect to a payment processor that supports recurring payments (Wix Payments, IsraCard, Stripe, or PayPal).
  3. In the dashboard, visit Products > Create a Subscription.
  4. Sell physical or service-based products (you can’t sell digital subscriptions).
Wix is one of the most popular ecommerce platforms in the world

3. Shopify – using the PayWhirl app on any plan

Shopify price plans range from £22 per month to £219 per month

In our latest research, Shopify's overall score increased from 4.2/5 to 4.7/5. But why isn’t it the best ecommerce platform for subscriptions?

This is primarily because you need to install a third-party app to start selling subscriptions on Shopify. Installing an app is an extra cost to consider on top of Shopify’s price plans, and it’s another set of your own subscriptions to juggle. However, using apps can enable you to sell digital products, unlike on the other platforms.

However, you can sell your subscriptions via social media platforms and online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. Plus, you’ll get an online invoice generator to help you take payments more easily.

Read Full Shopify Review

shopify paywhirl app

Pros

  • Superb multi-channel integration with all the main social media platforms including Facebook Messenger, plus Amazon and eBay
  • Best inventory management features of any platform we tested, helping you upload products and ship orders with ease
  • Access to app market makes it more customisable than Squarespace or BigCommerce

Cons

  • Relies on apps for subscription capabilities, which can get expensive on top of its price plans
  • Transaction fees imposed unless you use Shopify Payments
  • Design is less intuitive than most other platforms

How to offer subscriptions on Shopify:

  1. Visit the Shopify app store.
  2. Search for ‘subscriptions’ in the search bar.
  3. Select an app (we recommend PayWhirl, scoring 4.8/5 in the Shopify app store thanks to its generous fee plan and a 14-day free trial on its premium plans).
  4. Click Add app.
Shopify has brilliant sales-specific tools to help you sell more subscriptions

▶ Read more: What are the best Shopify alternatives?


4. BigCommerce – using the Rebillia Platform app

BigCommerce is best suited to very large businesses selling subscriptions – it offers the widest range of in-built features of any platform we tested, with unrivalled data reports and zero transaction fees (unlike Shopify, which imposes its own fees unless you use Shopify Payments).

Yet, it’s still not the very best ecommerce platform for subscriptions.

For all its in-built features, you’ll still need to install an app to start selling subscriptions. Again, this is another cost to consider on top of BigCommerce’s price plans, which are already the most expensive in this article, which is because because it’s the best platform for large companies.

bigcommerce rebillia platform app

Pros

  • Has widest choice of in-built sales features of any platform we tested, helping you scale your subscription business with ease
  • Zero transaction fees on all price plans, unlike with Shopify
  • Multi-channel integration across all the main social media platforms

Cons

  • Requires an app to start selling subscriptions, which can add to your monthly costs
  • Got the lowest ease of use score (3.3/5) in our latest testing
  • Restrictive price plans that are based on annual turnover for larger businesses

How to offer subscriptions on BigCommerce:

  1. Visit the BigCommerce app store.
  2. Search for ‘subscriptions’ in the search bar.
  3. Select an app (we recommend Rebillia Platform – it was designed specifically for BigCommerce stores, and is the highest-rated ‘recurring payments’ app by users, starting from £15 per month).
  4. Click Get This App.
BigCommerce can help turn your subscription-based business into an ecommerce empire

5. Square – using the Recurring Invoices feature on any plan

Square price plans from from £0 per month to £54 per month

Short on time and watching your budget? Then Square might be for you.

It offers a totally free plan that comes lets you sell via Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, and you can have your site created within an hour. On this plan, you simply pay 1.9% per transaction instead of a monthly fee, making Square one of the best free ecommerce platforms we tested.

Square is excellent value for money, recently scoring 4.7/5 in that research category. However, it offers very little design flexibility, so you should use Wix or Squarespace if you want to spend time designing a unique storefront. What’s more, Square’s process for setting up subscriptions isn’t nearly as seamless as it is on the other platforms (we explain how to do it below).

Having said that, we found that Square also offers excellent in-built email marketing features, which can really help you promote new subscription services and gain more sales. 

square subscriptions

Pros

  • Generous free plan with multi-channel integration, making it excellent value for money
  • Offers useful in-built dashboard to help you keep track of your subscription sales
  • Quicker and easier to build a site than any other platform on this article

Cons

  • Limited design and customisation because there are no templates
  • Not ideal for stores selling product variants
  • Enabling subscriptions isn’t as seamless as on the other platforms

How to offer subscriptions on Square:

With Square, there’s no ready-out-the-box ‘subscription’ option, like there is on Wix and Squarespace. Instead, you need to set up a recurring invoice series, which is still simple to do, but it does require some extra steps:

  1. Go to Invoices on your dashboard.
  2. Click Recurring > Create Recurring Series.
  3. Select a customer from your directory, or enter new details (you can only enter up to nine customers at once).
  4. Choose the customer’s card you’d like to charge from the Invoice Method drop-down.
  5. Toggle Allow Automatic Payments.
  6. Select start date, recurrence frequency, and the end date.
Watching your budget? You can start selling subscriptions for free on Square

Expert verdict

The best platforms for selling subscriptions are Squarespace and Wix. Since we first tested these platforms, Squarespace has improved its ease of use and now offers a built-in scheduling tool, while Wix now lets you sell subscriptions via Facebook and other marketplaces. However, let's recap what we've discussed…

The best ecommerce platforms for subscriptions are:

  1. Squarespace (on the Advanced Commerce plan).
  2. Wix (on the Business Unlimited or VIP plan).
  3. Shopify (by installing an app).
  4. BigCommerce (by installing an app).
  5. Square (using the Recurring Payments feature).

As we said earlier, we recommend Wix or Squarespace. These platforms provide everything you need to start selling subscriptions already in-built, while also offering superb marketing tools to help you start reaching more subscribers more easily.

Dan’s a Senior Writer at Expert Market, specialising in digital marketing, web design, and photocopiers, amongst other topics.