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Building Apps With the New Subscription APIs


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Subscription services are now a large part of most North Americans' daily lives. Of course, digital heavyweights like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Spotify are well-known, and many people probably can't imagine going through the day without at least one of them.

On the other hand, subscription services have been available for a long time and have never been entirely digital. The subscription business model began similarly, relying on mail networks to collect and deliver clients.

Many shops now use a hybrid approach, combining e-commerce efficiency and size with physical subscriptions and packaged goods traditionally acquired by brick-and-mortar shopping.

Physical subscriptions: Relatively fresh but rapidly catching up.

You may be familiar with companies like Blue Apron and Dollar Shave Club. They've long been recognized as the forerunners of the physical subscription trade. They were one of the first retailers to see the benefit of offering "Subscribe & Save" options on popular products.

With the introduction of thousands of subscription businesses in recent years, it has become one of the most fascinating e-commerce sectors, and more and more customers are taking notice.

According to reports from 2011, subscription e-commerce businesses generated $57 million in income, putting the expansion of this industry in context. By 2016, the amount had already skyrocketed to $2.6 billion. And there are no signs of it slowing down.

What about the rest of the industry?

These numbers represent the entire industry. What do we, however, anticipate from deeper diving? Before, there wasn't a choice. Only a small amount of information that examined the physical subscription business from a perspective other than a 30,000-foot view was accessible, aside from the success tales already described.

Everything changed when ReCharge disclosed confidential information on the condition of physical subscription commerce at ChargeX 2019 in September of last year. We ventured deeper than ever because of this data, which came from more than 4,000 clients across 12 different verticals.

How plan type affects subscription schedules

Surprisingly, almost the same number of customers choose a monthly plan with both Subscribe & Save and Box plans (55%and 57%, respectively). People like to get the same thing every month, whether a regular shipment of a single product or a variety of new products.

Custom delivery schedules are becoming more popular in Subscribe & Save plans. This level of customization lets customers choose the delivery schedule that works best for them. This makes it less likely that customers will cancel their subscriptions because they are getting too many deliveries, which is one of the most common reasons.

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Smol is a company that sells laundry detergent pods straight to people. During the checkout process, customers answer two questions that help them figure out how much product to send and how often to send it.

Businesses that sell more quarterly, semi-annual, and annual plans are available for box plans, which shows that customers are willing to commit to longer terms for curated items that tend to be more optional. We think this is likely because of how exciting it was to open the box.

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Subscription schedules by vertical

For verticals including Health & Wellness, Beauty, Home, and Fashion, monthly subscriptions are the most popular plan length. Products in these categories may not necessarily be regarded as necessary, yet they frequently have a loyal following of buyers.

On the other hand, custom plan lengths are much longer than monthly plans for coffee, beverages, and pets, which are usually more important to the customers getting them. In these verticals, it's clear that the convenience of being able to choose a delivery schedule is a big plus.

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Shopify Subscription APIs - The slow-mo game changer!

In October 2020, Shopify released subscription APIs, allowing partners and developers to construct new subscription experiences right inside Shopify Checkout. The Shopify Subscription APIs and Product Subscription App Extension can now be used to build apps that support changing merchant business models thanks to the most recent upgrade.

With the help of these new APIs and app extensions, you can:

  • Create native Shopify Checkout subscription apps. Along with the speedy and secure checkout offered by Shopify, concentrate on improving the membership purchase and maintenance experience.
  • In light of Shopify's generation and management of subscription orders, your app still complies with platform functionality and the requirements of the entire app ecosystem.
  • enabling brand-new business models that Shopify does not yet support. While selling subscription products is a recognized merchant necessity today, the new APIs are made to allow you to develop new methods of selling for the future.

As of now, Shopify gives out three different subscription APIs and tooling that include,

  • The Selling Plan API
  • The Subscription Contract API
  • The Customer Payment Method API

Before getting into the nerves and finding out how Shopify Subscription API matters to developers, let us take a quick look at some of the Shopify principles that have guided their approach to extending the Shopify platform to support subscriptions.

You May Also Like to Read: Changes in the Shopify Eco Space

Before getting into the nerves and finding out how Shopify Subscription API matters to developers, let us take a quick look at some of the Shopify principles that have guided their approach to extending the Shopify platform to support subscriptions.

#1 - Using checkout to guarantee quality, integration, and sustainability

The ecommerce platform's main business principles come together at the checkout to determine how much, under what conditions, and how much customers will be charged. In addition, it's where legally binding agreements are made and money is exchanged. The highest performance and reliability standards must be met globally by checkouts.

Subscription businesses using Shopify's checkout ensure performance and alignment with the platform's core feature set and ecosystem of third-party apps, both now and in the future. Checkout is crucial to ensuring a sustainable long-term journey for merchants as Shopify and its ecosystem develop.

#2 - Modeling and storing subscription data in Shopify

To ensure that merchants have the best possible chance of success, Shopify must model and maintain data about how the business honestly runs. Accordingly, Shopify and its apps have access to crucial data that can help merchants understand and grow their businesses.

How a merchant's business operates is fundamentally based on the information below:

  • What kinds of subscriptions are available
  • Who are the subscribers?
  • What products are included in their subscriptions? 
  • How are customers paying for their subscriptions?
  • How subscription information evolves over time

To maximize the merchant's experience, subscription data must be stored in Shopify. Having key business data in a single, central location is beneficial for merchants and helps to reduce the cost and risk of synchronization across multiple systems.

#3 - Benefits of modeling and storing subscription data in Shopify

Shopify may give retailers various advantages by modeling and storing subscription data:

  • Recurring revenue information on active subscribers, new subscribers, and churned subscribers
  • Shopify Email marketing programs with a new subscriber or churned subscriber focus
  • Workflows in Shopify Flow are initiated by newly enrolled or churned subscribers
  • We invite partners and developers to leverage Shopify's subscription data in innovative ways that go beyond the aforementioned examples to offer merchants original solutions.

    #4 - Selling a product in multiple ways

    Previously, Shopify considered the nature of a product and its method of sale to be exact.

    A shoe costs $10 and is immediately available for purchase. That's it.

    Shopify's mission is to give merchants the power to sell their products and expand in all the inventive ways that help propel their business forward, as well as to provide developers with the means to enable new ways of selling that go beyond the norm.

    #5 - Creating solutions for subscription management

    Subscription management is a challenging problem with a wide range of creative solutions. It is a broad and dynamic field that includes both physical and digital products, as well as large and small businesses.

    We suppose that many good solutions are both practical and desirable. A distinct merchant segment can be the objective of each solution. Shopify's responsibility is to develop a platform that enables the creation of these various solutions.

    In a recent blog, Shopify outlined a clear split of responsibility between Shopify and apps, which made everything quite simple. 

    At this point, Shopify developers ought to be able to produce applications that offer innovative user-facing workflows and subscription management automation.

    In context with the new Subscriptions API, this is how Shopify App developers should model their applications:

    Responsibility Shopify App
    Models and stores subscription business data Shopify - checked Shopify - checked
    Bills and processes subscription payments (both initial purchase and renewals) Shopify - checked Shopify - checked
    Schedules and automates the billing of subscriptions Shopify - checked Shopify - checked
    Provides a subscription management user interface Shopify - checked Shopify - checked

    In context with the new Subscriptions API, this is how Shopify App developers should model their Apps

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    • Merchants build and treat how they want their goods to be marketed.
    • Customers buy subscriptions and update (such as changing their payment method) their subscriptions.
    • Shopify first generates a transaction and only orders when a customer purchases a subscription. Shopify produces a subscription contract after the transaction and order are created and creates a billing attempt on the initial purchase.
    • Subsequent orders from clients are automated by the app. Based on the current subscription contract using the API, the app generates a billing attempt. A transaction and an order are created when a billing attempt is created by the app.
    • When subscription-related events occur, the app collects webhooks, manages payment errors and scheduling, and provides both clients and merchants with a user interface for subscription management.

    Shopify provides the following developer tools and services to help the developer community build and manage subscriptions:

    App proxy

    In order for information to be shown on an online store website, an app proxy server must be used to retrieve it. Implementing an app proxy will allow users to manage their subscriptions without issues while using the store's domain.

    Storefront Liquid drops and properties

    You can add sales plans and subscriptions to a store's theme with the help of liquid drops and features.

    App extensions

    You must use app extensions to surface app subscriptions in the Shopify admin. Refer to Getting Started on creating a product subscription app extension to get started with app extensions.

    Want to build your own Shopify Subscription Apps?

    HulkApps can dramatically transform your experience in the subscription ecosystem if you want to test how your subscription performs—if your customers like them or not. Shopify Subscription is a quick way to confirm these anticipations. Build your Shopify Subscription Apps with HulkApps, test your journey, and adjust how your customers prefer it. Reach us today!


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