Before online sales became as ubiquitous as it is today, there were just a few ways we traditionally paid for something. With few exceptions, we either bought something outright, or paid a regular subscription for a product or service.
Whether it’s streaming movies and music, online grocery shopping or implementing a new CRM system, the massive growth of the internet- particularly the adoption of cloud services-has had a massive impact in changing our expectations when it comes to how we access and pay for goods and services. For example, advertising supported content has meant that access to many services are “free,” while new billing capabilities have introduced the concept of “pay-as-you-grow.”
Unfortunately, there are two major obstacles that still limit many companies when it comes to monetization strategies and billing options, namely education and availability.
Education is simply the lack of awareness or due consideration of other potential revenue models. For a business that has sold its products in a particular way for a long period of time, it may never occur to consider or experiment with alternative options. Similarly, perhaps an organization has considered a handful of alternatives and discarded them as inappropriate for their business, without knowing the possibility of other, more suitable options.
For instance, a software company may have decided not to go down the subscription route, but may not have even considered the “freemium” model as a way of allowing potential users to trial their software with limited functionality as a way of drawing them in, and then paying to unlock the full capabilities of the application at a later time.
Availability refers to the lack of billing providers who can deliver a complete portfolio of options, and in a way that is as flexible as the services they enable the client to provide to the end customer. Unfortunately, many billing solutions limit the choices companies can make in managing their subscription services by not enabling them to implement their desired monetization strategy, either at the get go or once they have launched the service.
In an age when people have gotten used to getting a lot of things for free online-and especially at a time of economic uncertainty-it is imperative that a business can offer as wide a range of choice as possible if it is to entice someone to part with their hard earned cash.
The upside is that there’s a massive selection of options to choose from, including any combination of one time, subscription and usage-based charges as well as virtual goods, multiple currencies and different payment methods. There are also flexible payment terms, billing for future charges or billing in arrears based on usage, pro-ration by usage or time, and plan pricing for existing and future customers all to consider. The downside is that this can add a lot of complexity.
These days, subscription billing providers need to be able to enable companies to easily adjust their subscription offerings as needed and provide any number of options when it comes to their pricing and plan management. Whether they have one product or hundreds, a subscription or subscription plus usage model, charge one time or for tiered-usage pricing, they need a flexible and easily configurable product catalogue to meet their needs.
A comprehensive cloud billing provider, like Aria Systems, will not only enable a company to provide all these options, they will also advise as to the most suitable approach to use and which options best suit the products or services on offer.
This not only gives organizations a competitive edge in a tough market, but enables them also to create new products and price plans, and to offer any product in multiple currencies without a product SKU explosion.
Today’s customers expect to be able to get their goods and services online, and on their terms, and if they can’t get that from you, they will look elsewhere. The businesses that will thrive in this digital age are the ones that adapt.
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