The term ‘plugin soup’ comes up frequently at Subbly. It’s the term we use to describe a situation where a subscription business operator — or any kind of business operator, for that matter — is reliant on a large number of plugins for core business functions, such as billing, setting up forms and surveys, and automating processes. 

Plugin soup has two main disadvantages. 

On one hand, there’s the fact that all plugins (and the base platform you’re running everything through) will all be developed at a separate rate — meaning there’s no guarantee that everything will always work together stably all the time.

On the other hand, there’s also the matter of cost. As your needs get more and more complex, the more plugins you’ll need. The more plugins you need, the more monthly fees you’ll have to pay.

That’s one of the core reasons we built Subbly: to put every feature you’d ever need to launch and grow your subscription business in one intuitively designed platform — no plugins required — for an affordable price.

Overall Results

Note: all figures are accurate as of the date of publication

We analyzed the price of Shopify plugins across a wide range of business functions, adding the average of each category together to come up with an average figure for the monthly cost of running a business using plugins.

This number could then be benchmarked across the average price of a Subbly plan, all tiers of which include all the functionality covered by the plugins above.

💰 TL;DR
Callout: The software cost of running a subscription business with plugins is $469/month, on average, compared to an average price of $74/month for Subbly.

Methodology

As Shopify offers the largest variety of plugins, we chose it as the base platform from which to conduct our analysis. Of course, as some users don’t use all of Subbly’s features, they wouldn’t be paying for an equivalent plugin anyway. In addition, as both Subbly and the plugins compared have different tiers, we also needed to take this into account. Finally, to give us a clear average, we made sure to include multiple top plugins on the Shopify marketplace within each category.

We analyzed the plugins across 7 different categories.

  • Subscription billing: plugins used to add features like specific billing cadences, optimized checkouts, customer portals, and notifications (Recharge, Bold, Appstle).
  • Forms and surveys: plugins used to offer customisation options or solicit feedback (Globo, Fuzzy Surveys, Zigpoll, Ark).
  • Membership: plugins used to offer membership features, like gated content and members-only discounts (Bold, Simplee Memberships, Conjured Memberships).
  • Automations: plugins used to automate business processes (Zapier, Make, Pabbly).
  • Pre and post-purchase funnels: plugins used to create custom sales funnels (HoneyComb, Bold)
  • Gift cards: plugins used to add gift card functionality to a site (Loops, Rise.ai, Govalo).
  • Add-ons and upsells: plugins used to help sell additional products or upsell more expensive ones (HoneyComb, Bold).

Across all the categories, we used 3 different frameworks to choose the price per competitor to use for our average:

Framework 1: For plugins with clearly defined plans, we chose the price of the tier that would give access to the same features within its category as the equivalent Subbly plan.

Example: Subbly has all subscription billing features built in. Billing plugin Bold Subscriptions charges a flat fee of $49.99/month, and also doesn’t have any restrictions. Therefore, we could map Bold’s singular price plan to all of our different plans.

Framework 2: For plugins that had limits in places where Subbly didn’t, we took the average of all of their plan tiers.

Example: Subbly allows for an unlimited amount of surveys to be created and responsed to. Survey plugin Zigpoll has 4 plans with different monthly prices: free ($0, 100 responses), Basic ($10, 1000 responses), Standard ($25, unlimited responses), and Plus ($50, unlimited responses). In this case, we took the average of all 4 plans, which is $21.25.

Framework 3: For plugins that had varying transaction fees per tier, often exceeding Subbly’s, we chose the plan with the closest fee to Subbly, or the next lowest one if the selected one was significantly higher than our own plan.

Example: Subbly has a transaction fee of 1%, and doesn’t charge anything extra for gift cards. Gift cards plugin Govalo’s transaction fees change on each of their 3 plan tiers: free ($0, 2.9%), Premium ($79, 2.25%), and Enterprise ($399, 1.5%). Although the Enterprise plan was closest to our transaction fees, we took the Premium plan price as our average price. 

We’ve added all the results into a database which you can see here. Here’s how you can calculate your savings using it. 

  1. Pick a Subbly pricing tier closest to the requirements you need. Example: You are subscribed to the Lite plan ($19/month)
  2. Make a list of the categories of business functions you’d want to integrate into your business.
    Example: You want both memberships and surveys as part of your business.
  3. Add the averages of all categories together, and subtract the cost of your chosen Subbly plan.
    Example: Rounded to the nearest number, the average price of a membership plugin is $70. The average price of a survey plugin is $17. The total monthly cost of these plugins is $87. Subtract the cost of your Subbly lite membership ($19/month), and you’re left with savings of $68 per month. As you use more categories of features, your Subbly price will stay consistent, while the amount of money you’ll save on plugins will continue to grow.

Spend a couple minutes doing the math — the examples we gave above were simple ones, but remember, as your business grows, your needs will too. The more stable and affordable a foundation you have over time, the easier it’s going to be to focus on scaling your business and improving your offering — and an all-in-one platform like Subbly is the best way to do it. Sign up to Subbly today and we’ll calculate it for you automatically!

By Zaki Gulamani
Сontent creator at Subbly