I’m Paying for What?

This piece was originally featured on the Simple.Innovative.Change blog that can be found here.

Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Dollar Shave Club, Birch Box. Take your pick, the rise of the subscription economy is here and we are all embracing it with open arms. The subscription model is swiftly infiltrating every corner of commerce with new and innovative ways to best serve the consumer.

Be it entertainment, razors, clothing, e-commerce, or anything else you can dream up the rise of the subscription economy is helping consumers to get more of what they want, when they want.

On the enterprise side its led to the emergence of several businesses that are thriving on the subscription model that doesn’t require a capital intensive brick and mortar approach.

Subscription growth is exciting, but there are two big questions I have as the subscription economy scales in size for both consumers and enterprises…

1. The Consumer: How do we manage the innumerable amount of subscriptions we have and ensure that we aren’t being charged for subscriptions and services we may no longer want?

2. The Enterprise: How does a company manage customer subscription payments effectively to ensure optimal revenue collection?

Clearly there is a need for new solutions to create efficiencies in managing the subscription economy for both consumers and enterprises.

Enter stage left Truebill (consumer) and Recurly (enterprise). From my seat in the subscription economy audience these two companies may not be the main act aka Hulu and Netflix. However, they will play an essential supporting role to see that the show goes off without a hitch for consumers and enterprises alike.

Let’s take a closer look at how Truebill and Recurly are solving the inefficiencies that are arising as a result of the growth in the subscription economy.

The consumer:

In the past 18 months the number of subscriptions held by consumers has doubled. This is due to the proliferation of technology like Netflix and Dollar Shave Club proving that the subscription model can work across most pillars of commerce.

But with all those subscriptions it is hard to keep track of what you are actually paying for. No longer is your only membership to the Jelly of the month club…Chevy Chase fan anyone?

Though you may not be enrolled in a Jelly of the Month club, you may be enrolled in a membership that makes you feel similarly when you find out you’ve been paying for it without your knowledge…

​The founder, Yahya had a similar experience that drove him to develop Truebill. Here’s his story from when we recently sat down to discuss Truebill together

The idea came to me when I was looking at my credit card statement a while back. Realistically, many of us often don’t look at our credit card statements. When I finally looked at mine I saw a $40 charge for inflight Wi-Fi, which was odd as I hadn’t taken a flight that month. I realized I had been paying for this subscription for 14 months. Obviously I was not happy.”

You’ve been there, you realize months after your business trip that you’ve been paying for in-flight Wi-Fi. Now what? Your stuck with hundreds in charges for Wi-Fi you’ll never get to use. Its like being given a Jelly of the Month membership in place of a bonus.

Truebill is going to make sure those annoying trial memberships and in flight Wi-Fi bills stop piling up. Just enter in your credit card login information and Truebill identifies and conveniently displays all of the subscriptions you are still paying for in an intuitive and easy to ingest format. Check out a sample dashboard below to get a better idea of what you will see on your dash.

Truebill also displays your dormant subscriptions that you are currently not paying for, it will tell you how long you have been paying for your various services and also show any bills and utilities and other recurring payments you may have.

Yahya’s ultimate goal is for Truebill to act as your end-to-end subscription service dashboard of choice. Truebill is striving to have the capability to suggest new subscriptions based on your interest, help you enroll into new subscriptions directly from Truebill, and even track, cancel, and pause subscriptions. 

It’s the consumer toolbar for a new age of purchasing and its providing a truly intuitive solution to a beckoning problem.

Consumers aren’t the only ones struggling to manage the growth in subscriptions. On the enterprise side of things, businesses are struggling to optimize revenue collection as the number of subscribers grows. Yet, companies recognize the importance of providing a subscription model to consumers as it has recently shown an uptick in building long term customer loyalty.

A recent study performed by Recurly based on a sample set of 25 million transactions that have occurred on the platform showed that in 2015 churn and customer attrition declined in both B2C and B2B segments showing that customers are growing increasingly loyal to their subscription services.

Unfortunately, since subscriptions are a recurring payment there are new complications in the payment process that didn’t exist in a world of singular purchases. Over time credit cards can expire, be stolen, cancelled or replaced, all of which can lead to declined payments for businesses, and that means lost dollars.

Recurly, identifies and manages credit card payment complications and has the capability to prevent fraud, update user credit card information automatically when cards are replaced, and can identify hard and soft credit card declines and manage the process seamlessly. All-in-all, these automated processes can significantly reduce lost revenue dollars lost to payment leakage. That is hugely beneficial to any business that is growing its subscription base.

As if that weren’t enough, Recurly has set out to be the all-in-one subscription platform for enterprises. For instance, the company can also provide flexible subscription model options that can easily be managed by the Recurly platform. Check out some of the unique options below:

Providing unique subscription models like fixed recurring payments, seat-based or usage based payment options, ensures that businesses can be inclusive in providing the type of payment options their users want.

Recurly also helps manage promotions, coupons, tax management, invoices and more to ensure revenue management in the growing subscription economy doesn’t end up hurting you in the long run. ​As e-commerce and subscriptions grow, Recurly is going to continue to play a larger role on the back end to any business looking to optimize its sales processes.

In closing:

As we look forward to the future of these two businesses, the question is not whether or not these companies will prove relevant, but rather the question is how big can they get?

In some ways, Recurly is like the CRM of subscription companies, providing an ability to manage customers most effectively, and Truebill is like the Mint of the subscription economy making sure you manage all your accounts in one place.

And with companies like Dollar Shave Club being purchased for one billion dollars recently by Unilever, its just another sign that this is where consumer businesses are headed. The future of commerce is here, and Recurly and Truebill are positioned to win in this new purchasing ecosystem.