Is ReCharge for Shopify Everything It Claims To Be?

Is ReCharge for Shopify Everything It Claims To Be?

If you use Shopify as an ecommerce platform and need to add subscription recurring billing functionality, chances are you’re considering the ReCharge app. After all, with 51% of the subscription recurring billing market share within the Shopify ecosystem, ReCharge is the go-to for many. It claims to be feature packed as a robust platform, directly integrating into Shopify for ease of use. Is ReCharge everything it claims to be? In this article, I’ll play the devil's advocate and break it down.

How ReCharge works and what it costs

Before I get too far, let’s back up and take a look at what ReCharge does and how much it costs to use.

ReCharge provides the ability to add recurring billing options for Shopify products. The ReCharge app integrates loosely into Shopify, but, when customers proceed to checkout, they are taken off-site to a separate ReCharge payment processing page. Customer accounts are made for both Shopify and ReCharge, and are managed independently of one another.

ReCharge costs $39.99 USD per month + an additional fee per recurring order depending on the size of your business. You can confirm pricing on the ReCharge pricing page.

True, half-true or false

ReCharge claims the following features, but how much truth is there to each claim.

claim_half-true

Robust platform

Claim: Our integration with Shopify means you can launch subscriptions today.

Why half-true: Shopify store managers can install the ReCharge app and start configuring subscriptions for new and existing products right away. However, if you require Authorize.net as a payment processor, manual setup by the ReCharge support team is required and can result in delay.

claim_half-true

Manage all orders from Shopify

Claim: All orders show in the Shopify dashboard which makes fulfillment and accounting a breeze. 

Why half-true: While it is true that all orders are managed within your Shopify dashboard, ReCharge has its own app interface and so recurring orders are managed in a different location than Shopify orders. There is a slight disconnect in order management.

Also, accounting discrepancies can happen when order adjustments are made to recurring subscriptions within the Recharge app (ie: refunds or discounts after the fact). These adjustments are shown in the ReCharge app only, and thus not reflected in Shopify's totals for the day. Additionally, when a customer checks out with a mixed cart (subscription and non-subscription products), checkout goes through ReCharge and so sales totals are attributed only to the ReCharge breakout for the day’s sales. The amount of revenue that is recurring versus single purchase gets skewed which means the data needs to be likely be tracked in a secondary tool or spreadsheet to ensure accurate manual reconciliation at the end of the day.

claim_false

Connected Shopify logins

Claim: ReCharge integrates into Shopify Accounts so customers do not have to create a new account.

Why false: ReCharge and Shopify both have separate account management areas. If an account in the Shopify store exists when a customer goes through the ReCharge checkout, the two accounts, based on a matched email address, will be linked together but not fully integrated. If the customer does not already have a Shopify account, the customer must create a Shopify account for the Shopify to ReCharge link to be made. Because the two accounts are different, if a customer changes their data in one system, it isn’t reflected in the other (think mailing address adjustments, credit cards expiry, etc.).

claim_half-true

Direct integration

Claim: Customers can manage subscriptions straight from your current Shopify store.

Why half-true: Customers can purchase subscriptions through your Shopify store, but they must have an account set up for both ReCharge and Shopify before the two accounts are linked. Once linked, based on a matching email address, customers will see a “Manage Subscriptions” link within their Shopify account page. When clicked, this link takes the customer from their Shopify account to their ReCharge account. The customer’s subscriptions are managed within ReCharge, not Shopify.

claim_true

Secure payments

Claim: Payment information is securely vaulted with Stripe, Braintree or Authorize.net. 

Why true (but caution): ReCharge works with any of the above mentioned payment processors. Currently, however, these are your only options, which may be limiting to some store owners. Furthermore, since ReCharge handles payment outside of Shopify, ReCharge payments don't have the same level of automatic fraud protection that you would have through Shopify's built in payment system.

claim_true

Mixed carts

Claim: Allows for one-time product and subscription products all in the same cart.

Why true (but caution): If one-time and subscription products are purchased together, the entire order is processed through ReCharge instead of Shopify. While this allows for a better checkout experience for the customer, it may increase the chances of fraudulent charges being made since the transaction is no longer being handled by Shopify and is therefore not covered by Shopify’s built in fraudulent charge protection.

Also, as mentioned earlier, mixed-cart sales totals are attributed only to the ReCharge breakout for the day’s sales. The amount of revenue that is recurring versus single purchase gets skewed and can be challenging to understand without some manual end-of-day reporting.

claim_half-true

Seamless customer experience

Claim: The ReCharge customer portal allows your customers to fully manage all aspects of their subscriptions directly from your store.

Why half-true: While it’s true that customers are able to access their ReCharge account settings through their Shopify account, it’s not entirely clear that they NEED to do this in order to change certain account information for both platforms. For example, if a customer needs to change their shipping or billing address, it initially appears that they would do this within their Shopify account only. However, changing an address in Shopify doesn’t automatically update the address within ReCharge. The updated address must be changed in both account portals manually.

What users are saying

The ReCharge app reviews page is a good place to see what people say about the app. The majority of comments are positive, but there are some negative comments and these users do bring up points to consider.

5 star review

The following are some of the enthusiastically positive comments people are posting about ReCharge.

(January 10, 2019) ★★★★★
App works and they are always helpful when it comes to problems or challenges. I strongly recommend it!

(December 26, 2018) ★★★★★
The Recharge App is one of the very few apps I have used on Shopify that actually does everything I need it to do! Their support team is also incredible and has always gone above and beyond to help me with anything I need.

3 star review

The following are some of the middle of the road comments people are posting about ReCharge.

(February 14, 2019) ★★★☆☆
We thought based on the reviews that this would be the ticket as we had used another subscription app previously and did not like it. The functionality is good but customers seem to have difficulties logging into their accounts and changing their recurring orders…

(July 27, 2018) ★★★☆☆
Recharge is a decent app … Pros: Relatively user friendly. Offers most of the functionality you would expect in a subscription: cancel, swap items, change recurring order interval, etc … Cons: Checkout flow does not like to work with other apps. Does not work with dynamic pricing (i.e. if you have tiered pricing or bulk discounts. Glitchy at times; doesn't always show product images; some pages won't show all the different options unless you click out and click back in, making it very difficult to find what should be easy solutions.

1 star review

The following are some of the horribly negative comments people are posting about ReCharge.

(September 26, 2018) ★☆☆☆☆
Integration is manual by them and it takes ages with no answer. don't be fooled by nice graphics they show to you. it is waste of time and effort

(August 12, 2018) ★☆☆☆☆
We have been waiting for over a month for Recharge to get our store working correctly. Despite contacting them it is still not setup. Beware if you think this is an easy integration, they have to write custom code to make it work...

(June 5, 2018) ★☆☆☆☆
I hate the fact that I cannot have it billed through Shopify, but instead I have to manage a separate subscription. Utterly pointless and unnecessary!

Conclusion

It is our job as ecommerce consultants to understand the larger picture of digital commerce so that we can share the pros and cons of any tool with our current and prospective clients. We try not to hold much bias from one tool to the next, but instead, dig deep into the accuracy of the full feature set. Once we understand the tool, we then like to see if it’s a scalable solution and who it’s best suited for.

ReCharge and Shopify, for the most part, work very well together and is a viable solution for many. The vast majority of user comments are very positive. However, it isn’t the be-all end-all solution that it may seem. Within the past month, 238 Shopify sites have added ReCharge, but 86 have dropped it. Those 86 sites that have dropped it tell us that ReCharge isn’t for everyone. Is it for you? By understanding both ReCharge and your business, we can find out.

Learn more about Acro Media

Mike Hubbard
Contributed by

Mike Hubbard

, Frontend Developer
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