One of the product areas I’m keen to learn more about is billing; understanding how small businesses go about (recurring) billing. A few years ago, I used Recurly to power subscription management and payments for a music streaming service. I’ve now discovered Zuora, who aspire to “turn your customers into subscribers.”

“The world subscribed” — I really like Zuora’s vision — “the world subscribed” — and its 9 keys to building a subscription based business (see Fig. 2 below). Zuora aims to make managing subscription payments as intuitive as possible. For example, when I look at the info that Zuora provides on a specific customer account, it feels clear and clean, enabling the user to digest key account information at a glance (see Fig. 3 below).

Part of an ecosystem — The thing I like best about Zuora is the numerous integrations it has with partners and marketplace apps. As a result, Zuora users can integrate easily with payment gateways such as Adyen and link with accounting software packages such as QuickBooks. Similarly, there’s a whole host of apps and plug-ins that Zuora users can choose from.

Main learning point: Even though subscription management / billing forms the core of Zuora’s value proposition, I feel that there’s much more to it: helping people run their business operations as efficiently as possible. I don’t know whether the people at Zuora would agree with me on this vision, but I believe that, especially through it’s 3rd party integrations, Zuora can support its users more widely in their day-to-day operations.

Fig. 1 — Screenshot of Zuora’s “Quotes” overview — Taken from: https://www.getapp.com/finance-accounting-software/a/zuora/

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Fig. 2 — Zuora’s 9 keys to building a subscription based business — Taken from: https://www.zuora.com/vision/the-9-keys/

  1. Price — Find your sweet spot. Dynamically adjusting pricing and packaging is the surest way to attract and retain customers, and multiply the value of your relationships.
  2. Acquire — Boost subscription rates with tools like flexible promotions, integrated quoting and multi-channel commerce.
  3. Bill — Subscriptions mean more invoices and more payments. Automatically generate fast, accurate bills and deliver them online.
  4. Collect — Get paid. Collect payments instantly through automated and manual channels, while maximising completed transactions and minimising write-offs.
  5. Nurture — Build beautiful relationships. Keep your customers engaged and happy. Seamlessly manage rapidly changing upgrades, conversions, renewals and other orders.
  6. Account — Measure everything. Twice. Zuora plugs straight into your accounting software and General Ledger. Register subscription and process deferred revenue with ease.
  7. Measure — No paper, no worries. Analytics make forecasting, accounting close and audits a breeze. Plus, it gives you the right insight your subscribers, so you can make smarter decisions.
  8. Iterate — Try something new every day. Subscriptions can involve complex customer relationships. Zuora lets you iterate and test what’s working with just a couple of clicks.
  9. Scale — Get growing. Zuora is built on a secure, scalable technology infrastructure. So wherever you start out, we’ll keep the system running as you grow.

Fig. 3 — Screenshot of Zuora’s “Customer Accounts” page — Taken from: https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/zuora#/entity

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Related links for further learning:

  1. https://www.boomi.com/solutions/zuora/
  2. https://www.zuora.com/product/partners/
  3. https://connect.zuora.com/appstore/apps
  4. http://fortune.com/2014/06/10/10-questions-tien-tzuo-founder-and-ceo-zuora/
  5. http://www.forbes.com/sites/edmundingham/2015/10/13/why-own-anything-anymore-zuora-founder-explains-rise-of-subscription-economy-at-subscribed-ldn/#735812d65a49
  6. http://blog.servicerocket.com/podcasts/episode-7
  7. https://www.zendesk.com/customer/zuora/

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