As a SaaS startup, there comes a time when automating your billing is required to make sure that the operational overhead for manual billing does not become a major issue. Chargebee is a popular subscription management and billing platform for SaaS companies. However, it may not always be the perfect fit for your business, especially if you are a high-growth SaaS startup with complex pricing plans. In this article, we'll explore why you should consider Chargebee alternatives, key features to look for in an alternative, and some top Chargebee competitors to consider for your SaaS business.
When to Use Chargebee
Simple Product Offering
If your SaaS product has a straightforward pricing structure, with minimal variation in plans and features, Chargebee's comprehensive feature set may be sufficient for managing your subscriptions and billing.
If your business has a stable pricing model that is unlikely to change, Chargebee can provide a reliable solution for managing your billing processes.
Engineering Resources Availability
If your organization has the engineering resources to invest in building and maintaining custom billing logic and integrations, Chargebee's limitations in areas such as usage-based billing and customer self-serve usage monitoring may not be a significant concern.
Why You Might Want to Look For a Chargebee Alternative
While Chargebee offers a wide range of features, it may not be the perfect recurring billing software for your SaaS business, especially if you have a product with various different features and want to offer your product in various different configurations to enterprise customers while having self-serve plans available at the same time. In the following section, we'll explore some of the most important limitations of Chargebee that you should consider when selecting a recurring billing tool:
Lack of Pricing Page and Signup Flow Support
Chargebee does not offer support for generating pricing pages on your website or within your app. Instead, their front-end components assume that you will build this yourself, and they only take over once a prospect clicks your "Buy" button. This forces you to maintain details of the product catalog, feature lists, and pricing entirely outside of Chargebee, creating additional work and potential misalignment when updating pricing or running experiments.
Limited Support for Usage-Based Billing
Chargebee's support for usage-based billing is limited, similar to Stripe Billing. You cannot stream high-volume usage events to Chargebee as they happen and rely on it to interpret them in the context of an individual price plan. Instead, you have to pre-aggregate them using your own logic and then periodically send them to Chargebee. This means you need to build and maintain logic for usage-based billing both in Chargebee and externally, requiring engineering team effort.
Arbitrary Event Limitations
Chargebee allows you to measure up to 5,000 events per usage-based feature lifetime of a subscription. If you have usage-based plans and customers who would exceed these arbitrary limits over their lifetime, you would need the help of the Chargebee Support team, and there may be other hard platform limits behind this.
No Customer Self-Serve Usage Monitoring
The Chargebee billing portal does not include the capability for customers to monitor their own usage. Providing self-serve monitoring to customers is vital in usage-based models, so they can understand how usage translates into costs and drives upgrade behavior. To offer this feature, you would have to build and maintain it using significant engineering effort and duplicate Chargebee's pricing logic to show how usage translates into charges.
Limited Feature Entitlement Display and Tracking
While Chargebee allows Feature Entitlements to be modeled and attached to pricing plans, they are purely an internal concept. They are not displayed to customers, nor do they appear on invoices. This can make it difficult for customers to understand their bill when it depends on multiple different entitlements that are priced differently. Additionally, even though Chargebee can model an entitlement with a quantity attached (e.g., 10 usages per month), this is entirely separate from usage-based pricing, and it cannot be tracked or checked how much of that entitlement a customer has actually used, even through the API.
Customization and Integrations
Chargebee may not offer the level of customization and flexibility required for your specific pricing model or subscription management needs. By exploring different alternatives, you can find a solution that better caters to your unique requirements. Chargebee also may not support all the integrations you need for your business.
Key Features to Look for in a Chargebee Alternative
Support for Your Pricing Model
Look for subscription management tools that support your exact pricing model. You would be surprised how many vendors don't support your exact pricing plan. Choose a vendor that supports a large variety of pricing models, including per-seat, usage-based, and tiered pricing, to cater to your be able to ship the pricing plans that work for your customers. Since every enterprise customer needs a slightly different product configuration, you want to make sure unlimited products with custom pricing are supported as well.
Support for Usage-Based Pricing
If you need usage-based pricing, look for a billing platform that offers comprehensive support for usage-based billing, including the ability to stream high-volume usage events in real-time and interpret them in the context of individual price plans. In that case you should also opt for a subscription management platform that includes the capability for customers to monitor their own usage, helping them understand how usage translates into costs and driving upgrade behavior.
Out-of-the-box frontend components can drastically reduce your implementation time for a new billing product and make sure that you have to do very little engineering work internally for monetization. These standard user interface components don't need any maintenance on your end and always display the correct price no matter whether you sold a standard self-serve plan to a small business or a complex plan with custom pricing to a large enterprise customer. By choosing a platform that offers out-of-the-box pricing pages, you can reduce the need for manual updates to product catalogs, feature lists, and pricing.
The subscription management software should easily integrate with your existing systems, such as CRM and customer support tools, to streamline your business processes and ensure seamless data sharing. Make sure that the billing platform integrates with your existing accounting stack and talk to your finance team about requirements such as dunning management that could rule out working with some vendors.
Enhanced Feature Entitlement Display and Tracking
Choose a recurring billing solution that allows for better visibility and tracking of feature entitlements, including displaying them to customers and on invoices, as well as providing the ability to track and check usage against entitlement quantities. A modern solution instantly updates the pricing pages everywhere you display them as soon as you change a feature entitlement or setup a new pricing experiment. This shortens your time spent maintaining stuff and allow you to reach product-market-pricing fit faster.
Multiple Payment Gateway
Look for a billing platform that offers support for multiple payment gateways, allowing you to provide a diverse range of payment options to your customers. By ensuring that the recurring billing tool supports multiple currencies you can make sure that you don't run into issues with payment processing when selling internationally. Customers within certain countries you are offering your product in might also need a different payment service or payment method to feel comfortable about making a purchase. Many SaaS businesses force customers to use a specific payment method and oftentimes lose out on some deals because of that.
Manual Invoicing Support
Make sure that the revenue management platform supports manual payments as well as credit cards. Many large enterprise customers want to pay by wire transfer and you can save a lot of money on credit card payment processing fees. The transaction fee on credit cards is significantly higher, so you can benefit by offering the option to pay by wire transfer as well.
Top Chargebee Competitors to Consider
Here are some of the subscription management platforms that are the best alternatives to Chargebee to consider.
Zuora is a robust subscription management platform designed for businesses with complex pricing models and a need for high customization. It offers advanced analytics, revenue recognition, and tax compliance features.
Recurly is a flexible subscription billing software that supports a wide range of pricing models and offers multi-currency support. It provides easy integration with popular payment gateways and business tools.
Zoho Subscriptions is a user-friendly subscription management software that offers a single dashboard for managing all aspects of your subscription billing. It supports multiple payment gateways, offers a range of pricing plans, and integrates seamlessly with other Zoho products.
Stripe Billing is a popular billing platform for SaaS companies, offering a wide range of features such as flexible pricing models, multi-currency support, and seamless payment gateway integrations. However, it may not be the best fit for businesses with more complex billing requirements.
Wingback is a comprehensive platform that specializes in B2B SaaS monetization including billing, pricing and packaging, subscription management and more. The platform’s unique approach handles monetization from feature-level plan editing to the line item on the invoice, also taking care of entitlements, usage-based pricing, metering, pricing experimentation and optimization, self-serve / signup, and automated invoicing. It also integrates with multiple payment gateways and accounting solutions.
Assessing the Right Solution for Your SaaS Business
Identify Your Requirements
Start by talking to all internal stakeholders, including sales, marketing, finance, customer support, and engineering teams, to gather input and insights into your business's specific requirements for a subscription management system and billing solution.
Consider Future Roadmap
Review your company's roadmap and anticipate any future requirements that may need to be met by the subscription management tool. This will help you select a solution that not only addresses your current needs but also supports your business's growth and evolving needs in the long term.
Evaluate Vendors and Documentation
Don't rely solely on marketing materials when evaluating potential solutions. Instead, engage with vendors, review their documentation, and assess their capabilities based on your requirements. Ask for a product demo to get a better understanding of the solution's features and capabilities.
Develop a Billing Infrastructure Overhaul Project Plan
Implementing a new subscription management solution can be a complex process. Develop a timeline for the billing infrastructure overhaul project, ensuring all stakeholders are on the same page and clear milestones are defined.
Choosing the right subscription management and billing solution is crucial for the success of your SaaS business. Replacing a platform is not easy, so you are certainly better of doing a lot of research and evaluating solutions in-depth before making a decision. If your product is simple, you should probably go ahead with a tool like Chargebee. But if your requirements are more sophisticated, it makes a lot of sense to evaluate alternatives in detail before making a decision.