Shopify is a cloud commerce solution that, until recently, has relied on the Shopify partner ecosystem to provide development builds that integrate with Shopify and enable recurring payments through apps. The best Shopify subscription apps have historically been ReCharge or Bold Commerce, with the out-of-the-box Shopify platform offering limited ways of selling products beyond a one-time purchase.
It was announced at the recent October 2020 Shopify Townhall that the first Shopify Subscription APIs and tooling will be rolled out to enable partners and developers to build new subscription experiences directly within Shopify Checkout.
How is this different from what happens when you use an existing subscription app such as ReCharge or Bold? Well, it comes down to data. By modeling and storing subscription data, Shopify is able to offer merchants insights to their business in the Shopify backend rather than splitting subscriber information across third-party apps such as Recharge or Bold.
Some of these new insights include:
Prior to these new updates, we would need to create a data model using multiple platforms or a wider tech stack as displayed below. This model is the best way we can attribute specific digital marketing channels to sales data and know exactly which adverts drive conversions. With the new Shopify Subscription API, we may be able to streamline this process.
Details are still unfolding around the Shopify Subscriptions API, however our best guess is that subscription apps that are currently used are still relevant – they will simply evolve.
Below is an example of a Shopify subscription product and while it’s good for a very basic subscription model, it contains none of the complex solutions available through the more sophisticated third-party apps. For example, more complicated subscriptions such as meal-kits or flower delivery with different variations week to week will still need a good degree of custom code. However, a single commodity such as coffee, toilet roll, or medication could benefit highly.
Subscription is a rapidly evolving area of ecommerce and the new Shopify APIs will see a wave of innovation that elevates the current experience and make the customer experience even smoother. We hope this article has helped to explain what these changes might be but our Shopify experts will keep you updated with the latest developments as they unfold.