Why Recharge isn’t the Best Subscription App Anymore

Why Recharge isn’t the Best Subscription App Anymore

In this blog post, we'll take a look at why Recharge isn't the best subscription app anymore and suggest some alternatives.

Posted Aug 14, 2022

If you're looking for a Shopify subscription app, Recharge is probably the first one that comes to mind. It's by far the most popular subscription app on the market and has a solid set of features. 

However, Recharge is starting to fall behind the competition because it has been slow to roll out new features. In this blog post, we'll take a look at why Recharge isn't the best subscription app anymore and suggest some alternatives.

Recharge is by far the most popular subscription app

Launched in 2014, Recharge has since been installed on 34,179 Shopify stores with an average rating of 4.8 across 1246 reviews. Recharge has the largest market share at 37.84%. So why is this wildly popular app starting to lose its luster?

Recharge has been slow to roll out new features

While Recharge has a solid set of features, it's been slow to roll out new ones. In the past fiscal quarter, Recharge has only rolled out one major new feature: custom shipping rates. This is in contrast to other subscription apps like Smartrr and Skio, which have rolled out a number of new features in the same time period. 

Recharge's slow rollout of new features is likely due to the bureaucratic drag of testing and approving features in a larger company. As a result, Recharge is starting to fall behind the competition in terms of features, and users continue to experience issues with subscription management.

Recharge has a number of issues

In addition to being slow with new updates, Recharge also has a number of issues ranging from the poor user interface to inconsistent subscriptions. We're going to talk about some of those issues and why Recharge may not be the best subscription app anymore.

Limited Flexibility

You would think that an app like Recharge, which is supposed to help streamline the process of setting up recurring orders and payments, would be user-friendly and efficient. However, in reality, the app is limited in its flexibility and can be quite costly. 

To access simple features like theme customization, you have to upgrade to the $300 a month plan. In addition to charging for all sorts of features, some features require you to work with one of their 30+ preferred vendors or employ a systems integrator or internal development team.

Additionally, setting up on Recharge is time-consuming and requires significant backend work. For example, you need to create promo codes once on Shopify and then again on Recharge. You also have to set up a subscription 1 product at a time rather than in bulk. 

Tedious processes like these make the app time-consuming for your team and overall inefficient. Consequently, you might want to think twice before using Recharge for your business. There are other apps out there that might better suit your needs.

Unintuitive UI

In addition to limited flexibility on the part of merchants, the Recharge user interface (UI) is not very intuitive and can be especially confusing for first-time customers. Every action on the subscription portal takes extra clicks and effort to navigate, such as having to edit products in a subscription individually. 

As a result of Recharge's poor UI, customers have very limited account management and experience frustration with simple tasks like swapping, pausing, and canceling items. While Recharge's UI is not necessarily a dealbreaker, it definitely diminishes the customer experience and wastes time on the part of both the buyer and seller. 

In an age where there are so many options, customers will go with the option that is most user-friendly. If you don't want to lose clients to a poor customer experience, we highly caution you from using Recharge.

Unreliable Tech

Recharge is unreliable and performs the simple tasks of a subscription service poorly. For example, shop-owners have cited checkout shutting down during peak sales periods such as Black Friday

Additionally, Recharge has a pattern of issues with product-adding for subscriptions, from adding duplicate products or discount codes to not adding products to customers' carts at all.

With subscription management specifically, customers frequently have issues with account access, subscription preference management, and managing personalized order settings. For example, merchants have cited issues with customers being unable to update their payment method for months on end.

Issues like these often force internal teams to manually update details to customer subscriptions on a case-by-case basis. Further, security flaws like showing other customers' payment information have caused shop owners to lose the trust of their paying subscribers.

Companies like BUB's have reported 10% (20-30 users) of their daily volume reporting issues with subscriptions on Recharge. If you're a shop owner with a subscription model business, we highly caution you from using Recharge, as time spent fixing bugs and resolving customer issues will drain resources you could have spent on other growth metrics. For an app that's been around since 2014, Recharge lacks the consistency and reliability you would expect from a larger, established company.

Poor Customer Service

A company is only as good as its customer service, and the final nail in Recharge's coffin is its poor response time and inability to fix significant issues. Larger companies often place less focus on each individual user experience, and this is especially true with Recharge. Merchants have reported waiting months on end for a subscription issue to be resolved, and are often faced with automated responses or long emails that provide little concrete help. 

Recharge's poor customer support record is especially condemnatory given its relative instability as a subscription service. Unfortunately, Recharge seems to have the administrative slowdown and lack of customer attention of a larger company yet the chaotic instability of an early-stage startup.

Alternatives to Recharge

As we've seen, Recharge is no longer the best subscription app. In addition to slow feature updates, Recharge is limited in its flexibility, has a poor user interface, and is time-consuming for your team. So if you're not satisfied with Recharge or are looking for better options, here are a few alternatives to consider.

Skio

If you're looking for a Shopify subscription app that is user-friendly, reliable, and has great customer service, Skio Subscriptions is a great alternative to Recharge. Skio was launched in 2021 and is quickly gaining traction as one of the best subscription management apps available. 

Skio Feature Highlights:

  • Easy migration: With its gradual rollout migrations and option to test the app on new users, Skio has the best-in-class migration process for a seamless and quick transition from subscription apps like Recharge.
  • 1-click checkout process: With native Shopify checkout and no external url, you won’t have to worry about duplicate products/discounts
  • Passwordless Login: By having customers log in with a 4-digit code by SMS and email you’ll reduce customer tickets and customers will stay logged in.
  • Instant Editing: With Skio’s instant editing feature, you’ll be able to edit multiple products in a subscription at a time.

With its time efficient subscription processes and ultra-responsive team, Skio is the perfect remedy to Recharge's inefficient and time-consuming user experience. And compared to Recharge, who still operates on older, less flexible software, Skio is able to rollout new features much quicker due to its modern, more nimble software.

It's like Skio was built for responding to the frustrations of an ex-Recharge user, and we're loving it. Plus we appreciate their cheeky online presence, which adds a little spice to the rather dull world of subscription services.

Smartrr

If we're talking about up-and-comers that are successfully taking on incumbents like Recharge, we certainly can't leave out Smartrr. Also launched in 2021, Smartrr the subscription app to best serve your customers and keep them engaged.

Smartrr Feature Highights:

  • Variety of Subscription Options: With Smartrr, customers can go beyond the Subscribe & Save option and choose from a variety of subscription models including prepaid, Build-a-Box and more. 
  • Branded Experience: You'll have the ability to create beautiful, branded customer portals without extra fees that allows your customers to seamlessly manage their subscriptions.
  • Subscription Management Tools: Additionally, Smartrr offers a variety of features to help you stay on top of your subscriptions, including SMS and email notifications, consolidated subscriber management, and more.
  • Retention Tools: Offer member perks, allow customers to swap/gift/receive products now, and identify reasons for attempted cancelations to improve retention rates.

With Smartrr's retention tools, you can interact with your customers at key touchpoints in their journey, and keep your subscriber base engaged with perks, discounts, and exclusive access to unique membership experiences.

Retexion

We couldn't finish this list without talking about Retexion. Retexion is a relative newcomer to the subscription space but has made a big splash, thanks in part to its impressive feature set. Retexion differentiates itself from Recharge and other subscription apps with its focus on merchant success.

Retexion Feature Highlights:

  • Experience Builder: Retexion's experience builder helps you reduce churn, bump AOV, and increase LTV by testing promotional campaigns and targeted offers.
  • Automated A/B testing: Retexion’s A/B testing tool lets you test different offers, discount types, and email timing to find what works best for your business. 
  • Customer Communications: Retexion boasts features like a personalized chatbot, SMS order reminders, and customizable email notifications.
  • Subscriber Retention: Features like out of stock retry, gifting upcoming orders, and churned customer surveying help you boost subscriber retention.

And the app includes some of our favorite features from the subscription apps mentioned above, like a variety of subscription programs including Build-a-Box, an easily customizable and passwordless customer portal, and advanced filter/search and bulk update capabilities. 

With Retexion, you'll have access to intuitive tools to help you test, learn, and scale your business. All in all, Retexion is an impressive and flexible subscription platform that's got all the bases covered.

The Bottom Line

Recharge's time has come to a close, but that doesn't mean there aren't a variety of more promising newcomers ready to take your shop to the next level. Skio, Smartrr, and Retexion are all impressive subscription services that are worth a look if you want to maximize the customer experience and minimize the time your team has to spend managing subscriptions. And if you're looking for more options, be sure to check out our list of the best Shopify subscription apps.

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