If you’re thinking of starting a subscription box, chances are you’ve looked at a few different platform options for running your business. While there are dozens of choices from an e-commerce perspective, however, few solutions are built specifically with subscription boxes in mind. Such is not the case with Cratejoy and Subbly.
1 Business Model, 2 Possible Solutions
Cratejoy and Subbly are both all-in-one solutions for launching and running a subscription box business. Each platform offers tools and features that prioritize subscription-specific pain points like billing, shipping, and customer management.
In the spirit of transparency, we can say that when it comes down to functionality, both platforms are equipped to help a new or pre-existing business launch or scale their subscription box.
So, we’ll dive into what’s truly different about each platform, rather than run you through the gamut of similar features that Cratejoy and Subbly offer. We truly believe Cratejoy is the best solution for most subscription box owners, and we’ll tell you why.
Cratejoy: $39/mo + transaction fees
Cratejoy offers a flat monthly rate of $39 for all merchants, regardless of your business’ size or growth stage. In other words? Every tool on our platform is available to merchants with no restrictions at this price point. Depending on where your sales originate, transaction fees will differ as follows:
Storefront transaction fees: 1.25% + $0.10 per transaction (plus payment processor fees)
Marketplace transactions fees: 11.25% + $0.10 per transaction (plus payment processor fees)
Why are marketplace transactions an additional 10%? All e-commerce marketplaces are subject to transaction or referral fees. Whether you’re listing on Etsy (5%), Amazon (6-20%), or the Cratejoy Marketplace, any order made on a third-party marketplace will be subject to that site’s fee structure. In this case, that would be 10% of the total order value.
Is it worth it? In addition to the millions of site visitors that Cratejoy’s Marketplace receives every month, Cratejoy has an in-house marketing team dedicated to getting our Marketplace merchants exposure and reach – and that means more subscribers. That 10% fee helps us help you, so you can think of it as a zero-risk investment in your customer acquisition. You’ll only pay the fee when you earn a sale.
Subbly: $19/mo – $39/mo + transaction fees
Subbly offers 2 pricing tiers depending on your business needs: Checkout Only and Website + Checkout. Both tiers come with varying tool restrictions, support limitations, and transaction fees. Neither offers a seller marketplace as an additional sales channel.
Here’s the full scoop on pricing:
Checkout: $14/mo (paid annually upfront for a total of $168) or $19/mo (paid monthly) + 1% transaction fees
Website + Checkout: $29/mo (paid annually upfront for a total of $348) or $39/mo (paid monthly) + 1% transaction fees
If you’d like to utilize Subbly’s referral program, you’ll have to pay an additional 5% per relevant transaction.
2. Customer Acquisition Channels
Cratejoy: Marketplace and online storefront
As mentioned in our pricing comparison, Cratejoy is also home to the Cratejoy Marketplace, where more than 1600 subscription boxes have listed their products and collectively found more than a million subscribers to date.
Cratejoy’s in-house marketing team is fully dedicated to getting Marketplace merchants as many quality subscribers as possible. As such, we work on:
- Merchant features in online publications like Buzzfeed, CNN, and the Huffington Post
- Podcast and radio advertising with companies like Sirius XM
- Real-world advertising on subways and in airports
- Email promotion to our newsletter subscribers
- Inclusion in blogs and featured collections across the site
- Podcast and YouTube marketing with personalities like Jillian Michaels and Anna Brisbin
- TV spots on programs like Good Morning America
Additionally, Cratejoy offers extensive blog content around all aspects of the subscription box business. That includes a ton of articles on marketing strategies and detailed tips to increase your sales.
Subbly: No marketplace or subscriber-focused marketing
Currently, Subbly does not offer any additional customer acquisition channels to help grow your business. Merchants on Subbly have access to the service’s tools to build their checkout and/or storefront, but there’s no free, built-in sales channel as there is with the Cratejoy Marketplace. (In fact, their primary article on marketing your business suggests selling your box on an external marketplace such as Amazon or eBay, which cost an additional 10-15% transaction fee per sale on average.)
While Subbly also provides a blog for merchants learning how to run a subscription business, their marketing content is limited to 5 articles. For a platform that encourages you to take the lead with your marketing channels, that’s not much guidance to grow your sales.
3. Website Builder
Subbly and Cratejoy offer drag-and-drop website builders that can be used by non-coders and developers alike. With a custom domain and subscription-focused checkout, both platforms are designed to make launching your store an easy, customizable experience.
That being said, here are the differences:
Cratejoy: 11 themes, responsive design, custom checkout, and detailed analytics
- Theme library: Cratejoy offers 11 unique subscription box website themes and 3 specialized themes – one for prelaunch, one for presales, and one for hit-the-ground selling. The prelaunch theme, a built-in alternative to a third-party landing page, is designed for merchants who intend to gather emails before launching their subscription box.
- Fully responsive designs: All of Cratejoy’s website themes are optimized for desktop and mobile use. With fully responsive designs, your site will always look great, no matter what device your visitors use.
- SSL encryption and custom domain support: Cratejoy supports your custom domain throughout the entirety of the checkout process. On Subbly, subscribers who check out on your storefront will ultimately be redirected from yourcustomdomain.com to subbly.co/cart, breaking up the branded checkout experience and potentially confusing – or losing – you subscribers.
- Extensive knowledge library and content guides: The Cratejoy help center and merchant blog are chock-full of step-by-step tutorials and guidance to assist you in creating and maintaining your store. (Check out our help doc and blog post about the metrics report mentioned below.)
- Traffic report, subscribe flow metrics, and more: Cratejoy’s built-in analytics reports not only show you where your customers come from, but also where potential customers drop off in the sales funnel, and offer sales analytics to see which sales channels are top performers. With our data, you can determine which sales strategies need tweaking to optimize for conversion.
Subbly: 6 themes and analytics
- Theme library: Subbly’s theme library currently offers 5 website templates, plus one prelaunch landing page theme to collect emails.
- Limited Analytics: Subbly’s analytics show users the amount of revenue they’ve accrued in the last 30 days, as well as the number of pageviews for that same time period. However, these pageviews are not broken down by source and simply show the total number, giving merchants little data to identify and optimize their customer acquisition channels.
4. Shipping Cycle Options
Cratejoy: Supports multiple shipping cycles
Cratejoy supports monthly subscription boxes as well as advanced rebilling options for merchants looking to explore weekly, biweekly, bimonthly, quarterly, and ad hoc frequencies.
Subbly: Supports multiple shipping cycles
Subbly currently supports weekly, biweekly, monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, semiannual, and annual billing and shipping cycles.
5. Partnerships and Integrations
Cratejoy: Partnerships and integrations for shipping, packaging, bookkeeping, marketing, and more
- Box design and packaging: Cratejoy is happy to offer merchants an exclusive discount on custom boxes from our print-on-demand partner BoxUp. Cratejoy merchants get a 5% discount on all orders and can get 12 sample boxes for free. BoxUp allows subscription box owners to design custom boxes for a low price and at incredibly low quantities. Long gone are the days of 2,000-box minimums! You can start with 12 and order more as your business grows.
- Shipping: Cratejoy has integrations for ShipStation and Pirate Ship to provide users with discounted USPS rates, multi-carrier label processing, and order management. Learn more about our partnership on ShipStation.
- Marketing: Cratejoy has partnered with LeadDyno, the premier affiliate marketing software, to offer Cratejoy merchants a 60-day free trial (twice as long as the standard trial!) and a free, one-on-one consultation with experts to optimize your affiliate marketing strategy.
- Sales solutions: Through Cratejoy’s partnership with the sales recovery and remarketing service CartStack, our sellers receive a $2,000 guarantee in captured sales – for free. Read more on our blog.
- Bookkeeping: Cratejoy merchants receive an exclusive 15-day free trial with Commerce Sync, which integrates your sales information with bookkeeping platforms like Xero and QuickBooks.
Subbly: A shipping partnership and some integrations