Are you a SaaS startup or do you want to monetize your app on a monthly or yearly basis? Then you probably need to implement some kind of subscription mechanism into your app or platform.
But how can you implement this?
Let’s first look at a simplified example: imagine you have a startup in the staff management space. Some of the features of your tool are:
- Schedule staff
- Approve timesheets
- And of course a lot more …
Most likely you will create some plans and you advertise one plan as the “preferred plan”.
We will also allow new users to test our platform for free for 30 days.
We will visualize the 3 plans as:
Furthermore, you need to make these plans available:
- on your marketing website (in WordPress, Wix, …)
- inside your different apps (Web, iOS, Android)
And you also need the logic to subscribe to these plans or to start a free trial that hopefully converts later into a paid subscription.
The amount of work:
- to get all your plans published
- and to get all subscription logic working
over your different sites & apps can not be underestimated.
Many SaaS & Apps development companies will implement the following setup:
They will use 2 external providers to get the pricing & subscription working:
- A subscription management platform: on this platform, they will first register all their plans (Starter, Professional, Enterprise) and then the app has to be integrated with this subscription platform in order to activate subscriptions for these plans
- A payment gateway: these will make the actual payments happen
After implementing several projects ourselves at Appdnd according to this setup, we found there are some disadvantages:
- Monthly fees have to be paid to both the subscription mgmt platform & the payment gateway
- All the Apps have to be integrated via a custom API with the subscription mgmt platforms: that is each time many days of programming, testing, maintaining, …
- We still have to duplicate all the information about the plans in different places:
- in the marketing website
- in the different Apps
- in the subscription mgmt platform >> make visual
At a certain point, we started thinking about how we could improve this setup. Finally, we came up with a solution that we called SaaS Builder. It includes functionalities that are common to most SaaS applications & mobile applications: pricing, subscriptions, reporting, communication, growth, … So we use it for a lot more than Pricing & Subscriptions, but here we stay focused on only these topics.
The architecture with SaaS Builder looks like:
SaaS Builder is the foundation for most apps that we build, and it contains all the logic for pricing & subscriptions (and much more) that can be easily configured via a dashboard.
So, what can you do from a pricing perspective? Basically you can:
- Create pricing tables & plans
- Maintain all your subscriptions & their subscribers
- Manage the features linked to the plans
- View reports of the subscription metrics you’re interested in: MRR, LTV, …
The big advantage of this setup is that we now have a single source of truth (no more copies living in different systems): the pricing setup only needs to be done in SaaS Builder and is directly reflected everywhere.
A table contains 1 or more plans, in this case, we defined the 3 plans from our example (Starter, Professional, Enterprise).
- On table level, we defined the currencies & the billing cycles that we want to support.
Remark: we found that this was a short-coming in many external subscription platforms, where you have to duplicate your plans for each currency – billing cycle combination.
- On plan level, you can make several settings:
- Fields for marketing purposes: Name, Descriptions
- Recommended: you can select 1 plan as the recommended
- Trial period settings
- The bottom part of each plan shows the activated features for that plan
Notice that you have a matrix (Currencies vs Billing Cycles) to input all your prices in the ‘Prices’ section.
You can also manage the features for your different plans by clicking the “Features” button in the upper right corner of the pricing table. You will then see the features matrix as shown below:
You can activate the features for each plan or you can configure the quantities for quantity-based features (such as users). These settings are immediately enforced across all apps.
After the pricing setup is finished, you can start to create subscriptions for these plans:
New subscriptions will automatically take:
- The currency configured for the subscriber and the price for that plan in that currency (if available)
- The trial period settings for the chosen plan
But, most likely these subscriptions will be automatically created (and paid for) by the end-users from within the Apps.
There is much more to say about pricing & subscriptions, but this will be covered in more detail in the SaaS Builder documentation.
So, I hope that with this general overview you have some more insights about how we implement pricing plans & subscriptions for the Apps & SaaS platforms that we develop at Appdnd.
Stay tuned for more details about SaaS Builder in the coming weeks… !