Welcome to the battle of the two eCommerce solutions that are made specifically for businesses selling physical products on a subscription. Subbly and Bold are perhaps the best at putting control in the hands of merchants and their end customers. But...they are still different.
Both Subbly and Bold offer a variety of different features that will make it possible for you to create the business that you imagined in the first place. Both platforms make it dead simple to set up upsells and cross-sell funnels so you can maximize your average order value. Both platforms allow merchants to customize their checkout flow, and set up trial periods that convert into subscriptions (Bold calls this convertible subscriptions), and prevent cancellations using advanced reports. There are, however, some major differences one should consider when making a final decision - including price and complexity.
But perhaps one major difference is that Subbly is a full blooded eCommerce platform whereas Bold is a subscription plugin that can be integrated with the rest of the platforms, but is not a standalone platform itself. Let’s break it down further.
Bold Commerce is best known as one of the most frequently used solutions for anyone who’s already running an eCommerce store on Shopify. Bold Subscriptions is a natural option for such customers wanting to sell their products as subscriptions. Their rating after 1500+ reviews is almost perfect, just shy of 5 stars. Integrating Bold Subscriptions with your Shopify store makes it possible for you to offer all of your products on a recurring basis - with no coding skills required.
Bold doesn’t just integrate with Shopify - they also integrate with BigCommerce and offer a public API for tech savvy entrepreneurs to build their own solutions with Bold. Speaking of integrations, Bold works with 20+ payment processors giving merchants and customers plenty of payment options.
The list of in-house developed apps and integrations Bold has to offer is quite extensive. Outside of the rather simple Bold Subscriptions app, you can also install additional apps that give you additional functionalities necessary for growing and managing your business. Some of the most notable apps include the descriptively named Bold Upsell and Bold Loyalty Points, plus Bold Product Options for building customized checkout flows. Bold has also built a Memberships app which broadens the use case to non-physical product or service offerings.
Last but definitely not least, Bold team takes great pride in their exceptional customer service which is 24/7 available on chat.
The primary drawback of using Bold is one of the most obvious differences between the two platforms: Bold does not offer a complete solution for someone starting from scratch. If you’re still in the idea stage or you’re an existing business but without a website and online subscription store, you may not want to choose Bold. If you do decide to use Bold, you will have to first build your website in Shopify or BigCommerce, then install Bold Subscription along with their other apps which complicates your set up. Bold being only a plugin can lead to creating a ‘’plugin soup’’ which can ultimately drive the price point of using the solution considerably up and can lead to many different failure points due to many separate services involved in the mix.
Because using Bold requires you also use other platforms, it’s more complicated and more expensive. At the moment of this writing, the most basic plan for Bold Subscriptions is $29.99/mo and $29/mo for Basic Shopify - and that’s only for a handful of features in each platform. A growing (or large) business will likely require more paid apps and integrations, and more expensive plans. While the $58/mo cost for the most basic version of each platform doesn’t sound like much, this cost can run up quickly over time as your business grows and gets more complex. And that doesn’t include the transaction fees which vary depending on which processor you choose. Finally, Bold’s transaction fees are flat at 1% which will be added on top of the processor fees.
Speaking of price and features - do you want to run referral campaigns through your store? Bold offers a great integration with ReferralCandy that has a basic plan for $49/mo. If you want to set up upsells and cross-sells, that will add at least $9.99 to your monthly price tag. If you want to allow customers to select a variety of individual items per delivery (often called Build-A-Box and is popular with recurring orders that may change month to month, like coffee or wine), you will need to pay an additional $60/mo on top of everything else. Starting to sound expensive? Your monthly price using Bold can easily skyrocket for plenty of features included in Subbly’s most basic version for significantly cheaper.
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Automate marketing, management and operations with no code using complex business models
Collect information from your customers, and even allow them to pick their products and configure their subscription.
Since the beginning in 2014, Subbly has had only one goal: to become #1 solution for building an online shop that revolves around subscriptions. Other platforms trying to solve this problem decided to achieve this by integrating with larger, more established eCommerce players. Although Subbly boasts impressive integrations with other website builders, platforms, and tools (click here for more info), even more impressive is maybe that anyone can bring their idea to life with Subbly alone - without the help (or cost) of any other platform, and without writing a single line of code.
Subbly’s drag-and-drop styled website builder makes it possible for anyone to build a beautiful storefront by simply dragging and dropping design elements around until you’re satisfied. With Subbly, you don’t need to be a designer or a coder. You won’t need to search and hire freelancers to help you get set up - a simple and complete solution is only a few clicks away for a fraction of the price.
Bold’s Product Builder app has received some much deserved attention as it allows merchants to customize their checkout flows. We can admit that it’s good because we believe our version, which we call Survey Builder is not only better, but also cheaper in this instance. This feature is included in the most basic version of Subbly priced at only $19/mo.
Last but not the least, Subbly’s customer support is second to none. We take great pride in our hands-on approach to your store set up and ongoing education of Subbly’s features that help you build a better subscription business. Don’t take our word on it, read HERE what our customers have to say!
Subbly – is a Team of Real passionate people who have been with us from the very beginning
Being a standalone eCommerce solution, Subbly doesn’t integrate seamlessly into other eCommerce platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce. This means that if you’re already using either of these and simply want to add subscription as a feature, Subbly may not be a perfect fit, although integrating Subbly with Shopify is still possible. At Subbly, we believe that subscription is at the core of any successful business and not just a feature. Some may view this as a negative because they want access to Shopify’s vast App Store despite the hefty price tag it may come with. This may or may not be perceived as a con, but our focus was building an all-in-one solution from the very start.
The all-in-one solution also means Subbly is only integrated with a handful of payment processors. Although this isn’t a problem for many merchants who use Stripe, or are perfectly willing to use Stripe, some merchants may want to use specific gateways. Or, some merchants may want to offer their customers different payment options such as ACH. In this case, Subbly will not be the best fit. (At least not for now; Subbly is adding more gateways as we speak).
Lastly, Subbly’s features were not originally developed for membership-based businesses, so businesses such as gyms or premium content providers, may have a harder time using Subbly for their use case. While it is entirely possible (and there are many examples currently using Subbly), the features were not built for this specifically. The good news is that Subbly will be expanding to include digital membership features in 2021.
Subbly and Bold offer merchants the most amount of flexibility and customization when starting, running, and managing a subscription business. The main difference is that Bold is a tool that integrates with established eCommerce partners like Shopify and BigCommerce, forcing you to buy and use multiple platforms. In contrast, Subbly is an all-in-one solution which offers a more complete set of features for perceivably less, while still allowing integrations if you choose.
Both platforms have their benefits and drawbacks. So the choice really depends on a couple of factors: price point, ease of use and setup, depth of available integrations, and your use case. For more reference on whether you should go with one platform or the other, please refer to the table below.
Don’t take our word for it. Check other user’s experiences with Bold HERE, and with Subbly HERE.
Before I found subbly I never had the ability or finance to have a website which could meet my needs and expectations. Subbly has been there for me every step of the way!
Everything was so straight forward, the support team are AMAZING, I would not have been able to launch without Subbly.
We’ve used the software for over 3 years and it keeps getting better. It has everything you need to run a successful subscription box business and easy!
Subbly is straightforward and easy to use. Designing your site is simple and allows you to control your entire business from one place.