Recurly vs. Zuora

We compare two of the most popular subscription management platforms to help you pick the right one.

Choosing the right subscription management and billing platform can help recurring revenue companies easily set up and manage different plans and billing models, minimize involuntary churn, gain a plethora of data around how their business is performing, and scale with ease. 

That’s why most companies with a recurring revenue model should look for a lightweight subscription management platform that is:

  • Easy to implement

  • Ready to go, out-of-the-box

  • Built ready to integrate with the rest of your tech stack

This article compares two of the most popular subscription management platforms—Recurly and Zuora—to help you identify which one is right for your business.

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Overview 

Both Recurly and Zuora provide businesses with robust subscription management and billing solutions. They both have the ability to reduce involuntary churn through revenue recovery, and share many of the same functionalities and features. 

That said, when you dive beneath the surface, the differences between the two solutions become evident. When comparing Recurly vs. Zuora, you’ll find the greatest differences in the areas of usability, implementation, and integration. 

The first, and probably the most important, factor to consider is how quickly you’ll be able to start using and benefitting from your subscription management and billing platform.

Recurly vs. Zuora: Time-to-value

For any business, “time is money,” and that goes for subscription management and billing platforms too. You don’t want to wait too long to start getting value.

Recurly offers rapid time-to-value, with the average time for a merchant to get up-and-running at just 46 days. Recurly is simple and straightforward to implement, and since it’s a lightweight solution, Recurly is easy to integrate with your existing tech stack and workflows. Unlike Zuora, Recurly doesn’t act as a subledger on the finance side; you can seamlessly connect it to your accounting platform of choice, such as NetSuite or Xero.

Recurly was easy to install and merge with backend systems. It took us less than three weeks from the time we decided to use Recurly to having it fully integrated and in production.

Szymon Klimczak,  CMO, LiveChat

Zuora customers tend to take longer to start using the platform, as it can take months on end—sometimes more than a year—to get onboarded. A fast implementation with Zuora is the exception, not the norm; according to G2 Crowd, 65% of merchants on Zuora took three months or more to go live. As a more complex, piecemeal solution, Zuora takes a longer time to implement and integrate. If you have an established tech stack, you could be stuck ripping and replacing a number of your existing solutions to fit with Zuora.

Summary: as a lighter weight solution, Recurly tends to offer faster time-to-value than Zuora. The time it takes to get started with Zuora only increases with more complex and involved implementations.

Recurly vs. Zuora: Pricing

Recurly is a complete, all-in-one subscription management platform. It charges a flat fee per month plus a defined percentage of your subscription revenue, depending on the plan you choose. The straightforward pricing allows you to easily estimate your subscription management costs from the outset. Recurly does not charge a per-user fee or limit you to a single login because it’s important that every user has their own login for auditing purposes.

Zuora provides many of the same capabilities as Recurly, but the platform itself is organized into multiple applications, including Zuora CPQ, Zuora Billing, Zuora Collect, Zuora Revenue, Zuora RevPro (revenue recognition; typically the most expensive add-on for a Zuora implementation), and Zuora Analytics. To get everything that Recurly offers, you’ll need to pay for each of these applications separately. Zuora customers also report having to pay on a per-integration basis. Since Zuora’s pricing is all custom, it’s harder to get a sense of what the platform will cost and which capabilities you’ll be paying for. 

Summary: Price is a huge factor when comparing Recurly vs. Zuora. Recurly’s pricing model is simpler and more transparent, which gives the platform a leg up over Zuora.

Recurly vs. Zuora: Payment strategy

A comprehensive payment strategy ensures that your customers will be able to use their preferred payment methods and your company will always be able to process their payments. And that means growth for your business. Look for a platform that gives you the options to craft the right strategy, regardless of your industry or geography.

Recurly supports a wide variety of payment options including credit and debit cards, PayPal, and Apple Pay. Recurly, unlike Zuora, supports Venmo as a payment option, which can make a meaningful difference for subscription companies in the US targeting a younger demographic. 

Recurly supports several gateways, so you have a lot of choices to maximize your payment acceptance rate. With gateway routing, merchants can choose which gateways to route different transactions to. This helps global businesses improve acceptance rates and save on processing costs. Recurly’s gateway failover enables you to use a backup gateway to continue processing payments if your primary gateway goes down. 

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Zuora, like Recurly, offers gateway routing, but it doesn’t provide gateway failover; if your primary gateway experiences hiccups—which is not an uncommon occurrence—you could be out of luck. Zuora, like Recurly, allows subscribers to pay in many different ways. Recurly supports direct debit options across the world, but Zuora offers more debit debit options in a few regions.

Summary: Recurly and Zuora are both likely to do an excellent job processing your payments. Zuora’s extra direct debit options could be a difference maker, but you are more likely to get value from Recurly’s gateway failover and Venmo support.

Knowing that we can continue to process payments, even during an outage, gives us valuable peace of mind.

Brian Zarlenga,  General Manager, Output

Recurly vs. Zuora: User experience and account management

From acquisition to retention to everything in between, you’ll benefit from a subscription billing management platform that makes your users’ experience as smooth as possible. 

Recurly offers a customizable checkout experience with Recurly.js, providing you with the flexibility to give your customers exactly what they want. The platform’s Wallet functionality lets subscribers store and use multiple payment methods for different kinds of transactions—a necessity in today’s day and age. But acquisition is only half the battle. Recurly helps you reduce voluntary churn by giving your customers the option to pause their subscriptions, particularly useful when times are tight. 

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Zuora, like Recurly, offers a customizable checkout experience and Wallet functionality. The platform also offers pause functionality (known as “suspend”) to reduce voluntary churn, though this option is not directly accessible by end users. 

Summary: both Recurly and Zuora let your end subscribers view and manage their subscriptions easily. Recurly, however, offers a much more streamlined interface for subscription companies, so things like pausing subscriptions, issuing refunds, and creating coupons are much easier from within Recurly than they are with Zuora.

Recurly vs. Zuora: The verdict

If you're comparing Recurly vs. Zuora, both are credible options in the subscription management and billing space—but one is the clear winner. To reiterate Recurly's advantages over Zuora:

  • Recurly can be integrated and deployed in weeks, while Zuora typically takes 3+ months

  • Recurly and Zuora are neck-and-neck on payments, but Recurly’s gateway failover can be a game-changer—particularly if your business does high volume

  • Recurly’s subscriber management tools are much easier to navigate and use, which could significantly impact subscriber satisfaction and retention

  • Zuora hides its functionality behind a heavy, cumbersome UI, making it difficult to do the things that matter: iterating on pricing, launching new plans with just a few clicks, gaining subscriber insights, and more

One of the key reasons why we're able to get where we are is that we are very fast to react and also very flexible. Recurly plays a huge part in that.

Anton Jusufi,  Director of Product Management, FabFitFun

For over a decade, Recurly has powered the growth of subscription trailblazers, fueling innovation in the recurring revenue category. Over 2,000 leading brands worldwide, including ViacomCBS, Speedo, Twitch, BarkBox, FabFitFun, and Unbounce, rely on Recurly to drive subscription success. Purpose-built for recurring revenue companies and with over 11 years of data under our belt, Recurly helps companies automate subscriptions at scale, empower teams to be more customer-centric than ever, and transform their businesses. Learn more and get a demo to see Recurly in action for yourself. 

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