We all know how popular subscription services are these days. Most of us have at least one or two running at all times, from our Amazon Prime accounts to our gym memberships to the antivirus software licenses we use. The list goes on.
There’s something inherently attractive about the subscription business model. People across both B2C and B2B industries enjoy the convenience of regular product deliveries and 24/7 services—which is likely why the industry has grown so fast. Between 2012 and 2019, subscription businesses grew revenues nearly five times faster than S&P 500 companies.
And while we consumers have grown accustomed to our subscriptions, the backend support for those subscription services and products has been missing in modern eCommerce platforms.
We attribute some of this to the fact that subscriptions have been typecast as a B2C game; the concept has received less attention overall in the B2B world. Another factor is the natural limitations of traditional eCommerce platform architecture. Systems with tightly-coupled front/backends have fewer options for adding subscription functionality, many of which are costly and burdensome to the system.
These factors have given rise to the notion that B2B subscription sales are hard to manage from an eCommerce perspective. And while there are certainly challenges to overcome, we’d argue that the rise of headless eCommerce architecture makes the subscription sales model more feasible than ever.
Subscription selling is growing in popularity, in part, because it’s one of the best ways to support long-term relationships with clients. It makes your services a regular part of their routine; in essence, it removes a decision point for them and makes the buying process automatic. And better yet, it gives you a wealth of ongoing behavior data you can use to better anticipate their needs in the future.
Of course, tapping into these benefits can be easier said than done. The technical challenges of running a subscription business model alongside other business functions hasn’t gone away. But the headless architecture removes many of the obstacles inherent in traditional web architecture. In effect, it’s the ideal way to enable subscription sales as a key part of your eCommerce strategy.
One of the major differentiators between a traditional platform running subscriptions and a headless subscription strategy is native support. With a decoupled, headless platform, subscription sales are baked directly into the platform architecture, which means smooth integration across all business functions—merchandise, promotions, payments, reporting, and more.
In combination with a robust API, technical teams are able to interact with and manage subscription products and orders from external systems. For example, if there is an external training system, order management tool or other systems, those platforms can be integrated with and connected to the subscription business on the platform. The entire business can be connected with and leverage the functionality of a single eCommerce platform.
Compare this to a traditionally-built subscription storefront, where subscription functions aren’t native and must be integrated via third-party plugin. Typically, these plugins offer limited integration across business functions, which forces users to bootstrap solutions that keep all systems coordinated. This isn’t an ideal approach from both a cost and technical complexity standpoint.
Another alternative would be to design an eCommerce platform from scratch, although this is a time-consuming and costly process. As of now, there are still integration challenges inherent to subscription sales, but headless eCommerce platforms offer the tightest framework to make it happen.
The driving force behind subscription growth is a desire to create unique, powerful experiences for customers that become a regular part of their routine. Headless commerce platforms enable this idea in several important ways.
Subscription selling is often held back by three key challenges and questions. First, can I create and sell subscription products? Second, is the functionality around subscription billing and payment built into the system? Finally, can our business manage and deliver on the subscription sales whether physical delivery or digital services?
As mentioned, if you migrate your existing eCommerce platform to a headless architecture, this lets you tap into native subscription support, and the benefits don’t stop there. The unified nature of headless platforms allows direct connections between the platform and subscription functions. Whether you need to view customer profiles, subscription product profiles, or customer billing cycles, all data is accessible within the headless platform.
This makes it more straight-forward to launch a storefront, create custom subscription products for display, and process those sales tied to specific customer profiles. In other words, the system offers complete control over eCommerce functions, with tight coordination between product libraries, shipping functions, payment processing, and customer data.
You can even build on top of the basic headless architecture with APIs that let customers manage their subscription accounts on their own. With a few integrations, they can update payment details, delivery addresses, order schedules, and more, based on their own needs.
Plus, you can manage this new subscription store alongside any traditional commerce experiences you may already have set up. It’s a flexible system that lets you sell exactly how you want.
Subscription sales are growing fast, and companies can’t afford to wait to get in on the action. There’s a window of opportunity here that closes just a little every time a new subscription provider hits the market. The only way to compete in this increasingly-crowded space is to utilize an eCommerce architecture that’s streamlined, lightweight, and suited to scale alongside your company. That’s where the headless solution comes into play.
Ready to take the next step? Contact Slatwall to discuss your business requirements and schedule a demo of our platform. Revenue-driving subscriptions are only a few clicks away.