In 2022, subscription models are growing in popularity daily, and platforms like Spotify or Netflix play a role in most people’s lives in modern society. Subscriptions basically indicate what an individual like, e.g., a subscription to a Youtube channel, or show what we need, e.g., purchase of skincare subscription boxes. It is a very convenient solution for eCommerce, which makes running our business easier and more organized due to the stable customer base and greater financial stability.

This article aims to introduce the topic of subscription models and the benefits that come with them. Also, it briefly presents how they can be used to improve eCommerce business and how to implement them on top of Sylius & Shopware.  

What is a subscription business model?

This model enables the customer to obtain certain products or services they regularly need, for instance, weekly or monthly. Moreover, this solution is possible in exchange for regular payments from the customers. Easy, right?

Types of subscription models

There are three main subscription-model types we can distinguish:

Access subscription model

The customer pays to access a product, content, or service in this model. It is the most popular type of subscription among users and requires (usually) a monthly payment. A great example of this includes Netflix or Amazon Prime, which provides digital access to miscellaneous movies and TV shows. Various SaaS services fall under this category.

Replenishment subscription model

This type of subscription is based on cyclical purchases of the same products, e.g., newspapers, groceries, or home products. It applies mainly to Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), whose consumption can be easily estimated. A good example is restaurants with an estimated monthly consumption of food products like vegetables or beef.

Discovery subscription model

In this case, the customer does not know exactly what he buys. It is similar to receiving a box full of presents each month, except that you bought them for yourself. Such boxes are often called Surprise Boxes. An example of this could be Amazon surprise boxes with Japanese snacks or boxes from game developers containing random gadgets related to their games. Worth mentioning here is that the subscription model can boost our marketing by advertising our products (gadgets from a game can encourage a customer to buy this particular game), or enabling the company to sell slow-moving products from their warehouse.

4 crucial steps we should take care of while establishing a subscription model on top of Sylius

Taking and creating orders

 First of all, we need to decide how we want to accept and create orders for our product/service. Of course, we can do It manually, but it is way better to have this process fully automated. For example, this process can be managed based on the CRON system, which cyclically runs a script that searches for new orders.

Payment methods

For the best customer experience, choosing suitable payment options is crucial. The optimal solution for solving the payment issue is implementing a payment gateway. In this case, we don’t have to worry about finding payment providers and signing contracts with them because this responsibility lies on the gateway provider’s side. Learn more about payment solutions in Sylius:

Shipping

The most important factor in having a pleasant experience with online businesses is undoubtedly quick delivery, resulting from a smooth delivery process. To simplify this process, we can install the Byrd plugin, which automatically sends the information about successful payment and that our package or product is ready to send. The crucial element here is that the payment must have information about the number of customer orders. To make this process as smooth as possible, we must have a sufficient amount of product available to send to avoid unexpected delays. Furthermore, automated shipping also applies to virtual products like books in pdf. format. In such a case, a new chapter of that book will be automatically sent to us via e-mail.

Learn more about shipping solutions:

Checkout process

As always, address and payment information is required. Nevertheless, the subscription model requires us to get a token that will be further used for authorization. Such token must be thoroughly protected because it enables further subscription steps without asking a customer for permission. In addition, you are obliged to clearly inform a customer that it is a particular subscription model to avoid misunderstanding e.g. customers writing to you about why you drew money from their account without any information.

Also, you need to decide about the display of our products and choose whether subscriptions are limited or not.

Benefits of the subscription business model

  • The discovery subscription model enables to sell of slow-moving products in the form of surprise boxes
  • The discovery subscription model can also promote products that were not familiar to a customer before, e.g. game figures in surprise boxes that promote the game itself
  • The subscription model increases customer loyalty by implementing discounts and loyalty programs
  • We measure customer satisfaction on an ongoing basis
  • Greater comfort of a customer by not being forced to go through the checkout process multiple times
  • Greater financial stability of our business and easier scaling supported by long-term subscriptions
  • Being in touch with a brand has a positive effect on the number of orders
  • Customers subscribing to your products became partly brand ambassadors
  • People are more eager to talk about products they receive as a form of subscription because this model is a hot topic

Subscriptions in Sylius

Why does Sylius flexibility rock when it comes to building custom eCommerce solutions, like the subscription platform?

All of the technical requirements presented above are present in Sylius or its plugins e.g. automatic shipping. Furthermore, the Mollie plugin enables you to create any payment plan suitable for your business and collect recurring payments effortlessly. Mollie offers to choose the frequency of subscriptions and provides us a token that is used for further orders. Also, such a plugin allows withholding or stopping a subscription at any time. To make things even easier, we have a CRON system that searches for unprocessed subscriptions every 15 minutes.

The cron software utility is a time-based job scheduler on Unix operating systems whose job is to schedule the execution of specific tasks (e.g. every day, every other twenty minutes, or at 10:00 p.m. on the last Friday of the month).

Learn more about the Mollie plugin in Sylius:

Subscriptions in Shopware

With Mollie and its recurring payment component, it’s easy to process subscriptions. While the amount is fixed in standard recurring payment solutions, Mollie lets you choose monthly payment plans. Coupled with the extensible rule and flow builder in Shopware, plenty of customization capabilities exist. Rules enable the user to create specific constraints on subscription products, and flows reify the subscriptions. Subscription monitoring can be done via Shopware’s cron module, and transaction emails can be processed asynchronously by the message queue.

Marcin Grajoszek - New Business Developer at BitBag
Do you need an eCommerce solution for the subscription model?

Examples of eCommerce subscriptions platforms

Certainly, Sylius and Shopware are some of the most tailored solutions that allow you to build a platform based on the subscription model.

Below we have provided a list of live projects that are successfully running their online subscription business.

Summary

Subscription business models are undoubtedly the future of many eCommerce businesses. When a transition to this model is done properly, it can boost your company’s performance in many ways. Sylius and Shopware platforms supported by plugins like Byrd and Mollie can provide you with convenience and possibilities you have never experienced. So, what are you waiting for? If you are interested in subscription-based eCommerce solutions, do not hesitate to contact us!