Chargebee is a subscription management product that automates recurring payment for thousands of businesses of all sizes.
It is compatible with a range of payment services providers (e.g. Stripe), allowing you collect recurring payment from credit and debit cards.
One of the things that really elevates Chargebee above other recurring billing products is the quality of their Hosted Checkout and Customer Portal.
This means even a small start-up can deliver a great user experience with little or no coding.
The system breaks down like this:
- Product Catalogue
- Hosted Checkout
- Customer Portal
If you need to integrate (now or in the future) then also it’s reassuring to know that Chargebee has a well documented API.
So let’s get started by taking a look at the user interface.
Once you’re up and running this is where you’ll find everything to do with your customers, subscriptions, invoices and credit notes.
When it comes to subscriptions automation is the name of the game, and once a customer signs up all your invoices, payments and email notifications are generated automatically. Chargebee also has an automated dunning process that will retry any failed payments until they go through.
No matter how good the automation, there will still be occasions when a human needs to get involved; so having a really clear audit trail of transactions, events and emails to fall back on is a really important feature of any billing system.
What I like about Chargebee is that everything has a clear status, and there are hyperlinks to associated items. This clear, logical structure will help you answer customer queries quickly and efficiently when you need to.
Chargebee can also be used to set up subscriptions and process one-off transactions (e.g. refunds) manually, which will come in handy if there’s an off-line aspect to your business – although it isn’t quite as flexible as a platform like Shopify in this respect.
This is the part of the system you’ll use to manage your subscription plans, add-ons and coupons.
Creating or cloning a subscription Plan is extremely flexible, with controls over the naming, price and billing frequency of each Plan, along with any setup fees or free introductory period you want to offer.
You can also enable the Hosted Checkout Page and decide whether to make the Plan available in the Customer Portal for existing customers to switch to.
Add-ons help you take advantage of up-sell opportunities, and Coupons allow you to offer a range of promotional discounts.
If you need large numbers of one-time Coupons (e.g. to distribute gift cards) you can set these up in bulk using Coupon Sets, which all refer to the terms of a ‘master’ Coupon.
Once you get a grip of the basic concepts you’ll find Plans, Coupons and Add-Ons can all be configured quickly and easily, and you can save even more time using the cloning feature.
There’s a decent at a glance dashboard that summarises the health of your business when you first login.
Then, as you start achieving volume there’s a comprehensive reporting suite which lets you apply Custom Ranges and Advanced Filters to really understand the performance of your business.
This is also where you’ll find the Data Export function for extracting your data in CSV.
You shouldn’t need to do much outside of the system, but it’s always good to know that there are no barriers to getting hold of your data when you want it.
Here’s where you’ll really customise Chargebee for your business.
General business settings include payment gateways, currencies, taxes, revenue recovery (dunning) settings, API keys, web-hooks, integrations and users.
Chargebee also gives you fine level control over the customer experience.
Email notifications are pre-configured around billing events, and each can be edited with your own text, merge fields and HTML templates. You can also choose whether individual emails are enabled depending on your preference.
Customer pages are highly configurable, with a range of themes and complete control over styling to make them a seamlessly branded part of your website.
This is where Chargebee really comes into it’s own.
Flawless responsive web-pages that wouldn’t be out of place on the website of a major consumer brand are included as standard.
Being able to deploy these pages quickly, easily and on-brand is one of the biggest strengths of Chargebee, making it an appealing choice for any business or project with a limited budget.
In February Chargebee launched v3 Hosted Checkout and Portal Pages which can be added to an existing web page by copying and pasting a few lines of code, enabling anyone to offer an integrated checkout.
The new v3 Customer Portal can be integrated using the same approach and now features Two-Factor Authentification giving your customers easy, secure access to their account.
Hosted pages have always been a strong part of the Chargebee offering, but now direct integration with your website takes the user experience to the next level.
A couple of years ago I’d have said Chargebee were a little behind the competition as far as integrations go, but in 2017 they really caught up.
There are now no fewer than 25 integrations, and I am pleased to say they’ve closed the loop on their lack of a referral offering by integrating Friendbuy and Referral Candy.
Xero integration is also worth a special mention as they’ve really recognised that subscription businesses need to be able to deal with deferred revenue and enabled revenue from different plans to be posted to distinct accounts in Xero to make that a lot easier.
In 2016 I chose Chargebee to power a startup I was involved in, so I really got to test out this aspect of the service and couldn’t have been more impressed.
Even though the support team are based in India they are always able to schedule support calls in business hours and if necessary get an engineer involved.
This is proper enterprise software and support.
Considering what you get, the product starts at a very reasonable $99/mo which gives you coverage for $25k of invoicing. This goes up to $299 and $599 per month to access more features and up to $75k/mo in revenue so you do your homework on the features you’ll need in order to made a decision on costs.
For most businesses the £299/mo package will give you everything you need, including automated integration with your accounts package.
Choosing a billing platform is a serious decision with lots of downstream implications, so it’s really important that you get it right. So I like the fact you can set up a test site (free forever) and really put the product through it’s paces before you commit.
It’s also worth noting that new businesses can get their first $50k of invoicing for free which is a great incentive.
Sign up for free by clicking here.
I’ve got a lot of love for this product.
Chargebee have made subscription management sexy; with slick user interfaces and best-in-class checkout and portal pages.
And the negatives? These are certainly fewer now they’ve caught up on integrations, although I’d still like to see them being a little more generous with integrations and features included in the cheaper packages.
Slick user interface and best-in-class hosted pages that can be directly integrated with your website. Chargebee makes billing and revenue a doddle for any business with a subscription or recurring revenue model.
Ease Of Use
Value for Money