Thought Leadership

What to consider when migrating to a new subscription platform

Migrating your subscription program to a new platform doesn’t have to be painful. With a little planning and research, you can make a seamless transition. 

To help you get started, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about migrating to a new eCommerce subscription platform, from common reasons merchants switch solutions to what to expect when the big day arrives.  

Reasons Merchants Migrate to a New Subscription Platform 

There are three primary reasons merchants migrate: 

  • Their program outgrows their homegrown subscription platform
  • Their current subscription platform lacks performance capabilities
  • Their eCommerce platform institutes new requirements that impact their subscription program (For example, Shopify releasing new subscription APIs that require an integrated checkout experience. More on this below.)

We’ll tackle each of these issues individually. 

When merchants outgrow their homegrown subscription platform

There is a natural performance cap with a homegrown subscription program. Merchants switch to a dedicated subscription platform when they want to rapidly scale their program and require more robust capabilities, as well as the ability to integrate with other technologies.

It’s also common for merchants with homegrown platforms to migrate once their program has grown too unwieldy to maintain. By migrating, merchants can reallocate budget and development resources to more strategic initiatives.

When merchants need better performance capabilities 

Not all subscription platforms are created equal. Merchants often migrate to a new subscription platform to gain access to powerful tools, promotions, and advanced capabilities like artificial intelligence-powered personalization. For example, merchants have migrated to Ordergroove to scale their business with advanced promotional incentives and omni-channel capabilities.

It’s also common for merchants to change subscription providers to deliver a better subscriber experience to their customers. For instance, merchants have switched to Ordergroove to give their shoppers greater control over their recurring orders.

When an eCommerce platform implements new requirements

Periodically, eCommerce platforms like Shopify and Magento update their product with new requirements that impact subscription programs. For example, your preferred eCommerce platform might release a new version of their product that isn’t compatible with your subscription provider’s technology. 

In these cases, merchants can stick around and hope their subscription platform meets these requirements or they can migrate to a different subscription platform that wasn’t impacted by the change. This is the case with Shopify’s most recent update. 

In late 2020, Shopify introduced Shopify Subscription APIs. The new APIs forced most subscription platforms to rebuild their storefront apps from the ground up to support an integrated checkout. This adds risk to using these subscription platforms because their technology isn’t battle-tested or as advanced as the market demands.

Ordergroove’s platform was not impacted by Shopify’s new requirements. 

What to Consider Before You Migrate to a New Subscription Platform

Before you migrate subscription platforms, you need to ask yourself and your prospective new subscription provider some tough questions to ensure your subscription program thrives. Here are the most important ones.

Will the subscription platform meet your current and future needs? 

Subscription platforms have different capabilities, tools, and partner integrations. Before you invest in a new platform, do your research. A superior subscription platform will: 

  • Scale with you as your subscription program grows
  • Offer robust tools and capabilities to help you acquire and retain subscribers 
  • Continually meet your eCommerce platform’s requirements
  • Provide expert advice on how to develop and optimize your subscription program

How often does the subscription platform migrate merchants?

You want to partner with a subscription platform with extensive migration experience. This will shorten the amount of time it takes to get your new program up and running and ensure a frictionless customer experience. 

Has the subscription platform migrated a program from your current subscription platform? 

Individual subscription platforms have their own unique method for collecting and storing subscription data. The more experience your prospective subscription platform has with migrations from your current platform, the better.

How many subscriptions can the platform migrate?

Ensure your prospective subscription platform has transferred a program that is around your program’s size or larger. Ask if they can put you in contact with a customer who went through their migration process.

How will the migration impact your subscribers?

Your prospective subscription platform’s goal should be to minimize the migration’s impact on your subscribers. There should be no downtime for new enrollments and minimum downtime (a few hours) for existing subscribers. 

Your new subscription platform should help you develop a plan to seamlessly execute the migration by offering advice (and sometimes templates) on how to communicate the change to your subscribers. They should also enable you to complete “dry runs” to discover and correct data errors.

How will the migration impact your resources?

Migrating subscription platforms requires dedicated time on the merchant’s end. You’ll need to collect, review, correct, and transform your subscription data to match your new platform’s requirements. Some subscription platforms like Ordergroove have automated capabilities that make migration faster, but this feature isn’t standard across the industry. 

When you do select a new subscription platform, work with them to outline which aspects of the migration your organization is responsible for. 

What to Expect When You Migrate to a New Subscription Platform

Migrations follow three broad steps, with slight variation depending on the platform. 

Step 1: Data preparation

In this step, the merchant extracts their subscription program’s data from their current platform, reviews it, removes errors, and then transforms it to match their new platform’s requirements. This could take days or weeks, depending on the size of your program and your resources. Common errors you might run into include records having misspelled words, missing data, and discontinued products. 

When migrating platforms, you will come across errors. This is completely normal, just build in time to correct them. 

Step 2: Testing

Once the data is corrected and transformed, you’ll upload batches of data to your new subscription platform to determine whether your data needs further correction and manipulation. You should be able to do as many “dry runs” as you need to fix your data. Once the data is in order, you can proceed to the final step. 

Step 3: Go live and celebrate

This is the big day! At the designated time, you launch your new subscription platform and retire your old platform. With the right subscription provider, this will be a completely painless experience, with minimal, if not any, impact on your subscriber experience. 

In the months after launch, your new subscription platform should help you optimize your program to meet your business goals, whether that’s acquiring new customers or retaining your current subscribers. 

Wrap Up

Migrating subscription platforms is a major decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, if you do decide to partner with a new subscription platform, ensure they have the experience to make it a frictionless transition and the capabilities to set your business up for success.


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