Will 'Subscribe with Amazon' set the standard for subscription marketplaces?

Will 'Subscribe with Amazon' set the standard for subscription marketplaces? Amazon has just launched a marketplace for subscription-based businesses that sell digital services. Is this yet another masterstroke from Amazon? Shashank Venkat with the details

Global giant Amazon has always been at the forefront with its innovative range of subscription offerings across its e-commerce and video streaming businesses. And taking another significant step in the subscription revolution, the company has launched its Subscribe with Amazon programme - a self-service digital subscription marketplace enabling customers to manage and pay for subscriptions, straight from their Amazon account. While the feature has been live on Amazon.com for some time, the company has just decided to open the programme to individual subscribers in the US. Through a common dashboard, consumers can now manage all their digital subscriptions with ease and have access to thousands of services.
For subscription-based businesses, the attraction of Subscribe with Amazon is clear - access to Amazon's huge pool of customers. However, there is a hefty price to pay as Amazon will take around 30% of their subscription revenue for a customer's first year, and 15% from the second year onwards. Amazon, in turn, will allow subscription services to leverage its robust discovery engine which offers personalised recommendations to the users. The subscription marketplace also allows businesses to offer a range of flexible subscription billing option, and integrate more tightly within the Amazon ecosystem by offering Prime exclusive deals.
Some of the notable names that have already signed up for the programme include Disney Story Central, which is a subscription service targeted towards kids; Dropbox, the popular file storage service; STEM Club, a toys subscription offering; Princeton Review's academic courses; Fitbit's Fitstar subscription-based personal training programme; and Sling TV's streaming TV service; along with a host of other premium subscription players. Other popular content providers like The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker and The Chicago Tribune are also expected to join this subscription marketplace.
Customers can use Subscribe with Amazon to manage all details of their subscriptions - right from billing information and free trials, to renewal dates and cancellations. Through this marketplace, Amazon aims to solve the problem of managing the myriad of subscriptions signed up for by customers. And in a world which is increasingly shifting towards subscription-based business models, simplifying subscription management presents a great business opportunity.
It should be noted that Amazon is not the first one to launch a subscription marketplace service - start-ups such as TrueBill and Bobby have already tried to solve this problem. But with Amazon's entry into this space, there is a good chance that subscription marketplaces might become an integral part of digital strategy for subscription businesses. Smaller businesses might be especially eager to give Amazon a chance, owing to its customer base and other platform benefits.
However, the success of this programme will largely depend on whether Amazon opens its doors to all subscription players. If they strategically choose to eliminate rivals such as Netflix, Apple and Google, then this subscription marketplace might just be limited to niche players, which won't offer the full value to subscribers and businesses alike. For 'Subscribe with Amazon' to be truly successful, this subscription marketplace has to be truly platform agnostic.

Image credit: Amazon.com Store III Photo
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