The 5 Best Ecommerce Platforms for Subscriptions

best merchant account providers for ecommerce

By Dan Barraclough | Updated: 26 May 2021

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


Finding the best ecommerce platform for subscriptions requires a little research – you can’t just select any old software and expect it to offer what you need. Thankfully, we’ve done all that research for you.

We thoroughly tested a wide range of ecommerce platforms to see which of them deliver the best features for businesses selling subscriptions online. Thanks to our in-depth research, not only will we recommend the best platforms, but we’ll advise on the different price plans you should choose, and the apps or features you should use.

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
SquareAny (£0 – £54/month)Recurring Invoices feature
ShopifyAny (£22 – £219/month)Yes – we recommend PayWhirl 
BigCommerceAny (£22 – £220/month)Yes – we recommend Rebillia Platform

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 best value for money. 

It has the best ecommerce features of any ‘non-ecommerce-specific’ website builder, offering everything you need to start selling subscriptions, already in-built, at just £30 per month, making it one of the top ecommerce platforms for small businesses.

During our testing, we particularly liked 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 might not be quite as simple to use as Wix or Square, but it also offers the sleekest templates of any platform we tested, enabling your subscription boxes, packages, or membership deals to truly stand out from the competition.

Read Full Squarespace Review

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

X Cons:

  • You cannot create free subscription products
  • Wix has more affordable price plans
  • Supports just two payment processors, compared to Shopify’s 100+ options

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 Start Selling on Squarespace

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

The (close) second-best ecommerce platform for subscriptions is Wix, the user-friendly option that offers two suitable, affordable price plans to choose from.

On Wix, you can add product videos to help visitors better understand your subscription products, customise your template to your heart’s content, and make use of its SEO Wiz tool, which provides prompts to help your website rank higher on the search engine results pages.

However, Wix has weaker multi-channel integration than Squarepsace. You’re only able to sell via Instagram, but you can install apps to help you sell through other channels.

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

X Cons:

  • Multi-channel integration could be stronger
  • Cannot switch templates after you go live unlike on Squarespace, Shopify or BigCommerce
  • Amount of creative freedom can feel daunting at first to tech beginners

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 sell subscriptions on wix

3. 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 with multi-channel integration to help 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, but you should know that there’s very little design flexibility and there aren’t any templates, 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

X Cons:

  • Limited design and customisation because there are no templates
  • Only supports one payment processor on the free plan (PayPal is available on the other plans)
  • 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 Start selling on square

4. Shopify – using the PayWhirl app on any plan

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

Shopify is one of the most comprehensive ecommerce website builders on the market, so why isn’t it the best ecommerce platform for subscriptions?

First things first – Shopify came top in our ‘sales features’ research, offering the best sales-specific features of any platform.  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.

On the downside, you’ll 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.

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

X 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
  • Price plans aren’t as affordable as Squarespace, Wix, or Square

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 start selling on Shopify

▶ Read more: What are the best Shopify alternatives?


5. BigCommerce – using the Rebillia Platform app

Another powerful platform, BigCommerce is designed to help your business scale into an ecommerce empire. 

It offers the widest range of in-built features of any platform we tested, with unrivalled data reports and zero transaction fees to boot (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. However, that’s simply 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

X Cons:

  • Requires an app to start selling subscriptions, which can add to your monthly costs
  • The most difficult-to-use platform in this article
  • No mobile app to help you sell on the go, unlike every other platform here

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 Start selling on BigCommerce

Expert verdict

We’ve shown you the best ecommerce platforms for subscriptions, backed up by our independent research and user testing. Now, you should have a clearer idea of  which one your business should subscribe to. Let’s just recap what we covered.

The best ecommerce platforms for subscriptions are:

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

Out of them all, 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 Barraclough

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

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