Most small businesses can get by using a simple online shopping cart. Customers select an item or two, complete the checkout process and that effectively spells the end of the transaction.
But what about software-as-a-service (SaaS) startups and fledgling product-of-the-month companies? Chargebee, an automated subscription billing and recurring payments platform, helps these types of small businesses roll out product and services that are delivered on a persistent, scheduled basis.
Recurring Payments Billing for Small Business
Chargebee's application programming interface (API) lets small businesses integrate recurring payments into their websites, apps and ecommerce operations. And it doesn't take a coding expert to get going, assures Krish Subramanian, co-founder and CEO of Chargebee.
Sure, developers can use the API to build recurring payments into their online and app-based storefronts, but Chargebee can also perform most of the heavy lifting.
According to Subramanian, small businesses can incorporate subscription billing using the iframe model, essentially displaying a webpage within a webpage. In this case, businesses can set up their own websites while Chargebee powers the payments portion.
Using this approach, small business owners get "the best of both worlds," said Subramanian. Customers can tailor the user experience to their liking and Chargebee takes on the rest, including Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance. "They can use Chargebee to handle everything behind the scenes," he added.
Finally, for small businesses that don't want to even deal with API or iframe integration, Chargebee offers a hosted payment pages option that allows customers to add their logos and customize the experience to reflect their brand. This SEO-friendly option is "optimized for conversion" and helps entrepreneurs get up and running with little fuss, said Subramanian. "We want to make sure they focus on their main business."
Evolving Customer Expectations
The advent of SaaS and other pay-as-you-go business models has reset the merchant-customer relationship, according to Subramanian.
"You used to sell a [piece of] software and the customer was on his own," he said. Those days are over. Subscription-based services have made "the whole relationship equal; you keep your customers as long as they are happy."
While the onus of delivering consistently good products, services, and customer experiences falls squarely on the small business owner, Chargebee wants to ensure that they don't drop the ball on the payments part.
Few things are more maddening than watching funds fly out of a bank account because of a surprise renewal. Empowered by self-serve cloud services and SaaS products, consumers these days expect to be in control of their various subscriptions. Chargebee allows a business' customers to manage their subscriptions without contacting a customer service representative.
Chargebee supports the top payment gateways, including PayPal, Amazon Payments, Stripe, and Braintree. It automatically calculates tax, including EU VAT rules, and it supports coupons, multiple pricing tiers, and product bundles. For added flexibility, the company overhauled its account adjustment tools, making it easier for both businesses and their customers to manage their refunds and credits.
The company's approach resonates with both startups and established businesses alike. Customers include Soylent—the headline-grabbing, high-tech meal-replacement company—Freshdesk, Fujitsu, and Schneider Electric. To date, Chargebee has handled more than "$250,00 million in customer revenue" across 49 countries, said Subramanian.
Chargebee pricingstarts at $99 per month for a Standard plan, which includes 200 invoices, access for three users and support for one payment gateway. Last month, the company unveiled a Launch plan that includes all the features in the Standard plan but is free up to the first $50,000 in revenue processed by Chargebee. Pro and Enterprise plans are also available for businesses with more complex requirements.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
|Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!|