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Guide

Choosing the Right Cleverbridge Alternative  

Find the best Cleverbridge alternative for your business and customers. Why businesses look for an alternative and the best solutions on the market.

In this article:

What is Cleverbridge? 

Cleverbridge is a cloud-based global ecommerce platform that provides billing solutions for digital goods, online services and SaaS companies in B2C and B2B markets.  

As a full-featured merchant of record platform, Cleverbridge is designed to offer global sales tax compliance and subscription payment capabilities. The platform offers a wide range of billing models and is well-suited to large companies with dedicated engineering teams handling their payments infrastructure.

However, for some SaaS companies, it’s worth considering alternatives to Cleverbridge – ones that are better tailored for SaaS needs, with SaaS-specific features like key subscription and B2B models, while also being quick and easy to set up. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the top Cleverbridge alternatives, so you can easily decide which one is the best fit for your SaaS business.

Who is Cleverbridge good for? 

Cleverbridge is designed for global online businesses that serve customers all over the world and need sales tax compliance solutions. The main target audiences are: 

  • Ecommerce businesses. Cleverbridge positions itself as an ‘e-commerce solutions company’ and is experienced in supporting businesses selling online. 
  • Digital and SaaS businesses. Cleverbridge serves ecommerce businesses across the board – both B2B and B2C, while also offering recurring billing options, which are a good fit for SaaS businesses.

Is Cleverbridge the best option for selling SaaS? 

Cleverbridge is designed to provide a merchant of record service for global ecommerce, freeing their sellers from cumbersome sales tax compliance and billing issues. This is a benefit for SaaS companies too, who sell globally and must stay on top of different sales tax rules. 

But Cleverbridge wasn’t built for SaaS, and that means there are certain limitations to how well it can support this particular business model. Having begun its life offering one-time payments, it lacks key subscription and B2B features that SaaS businesses rely on. For example, Cleverbridge has well-developed purchase order flows but lacks a sales-assisted invoicing product.

In terms of subscription billing models, Cleverbridge natively supports several of these. With Cleverbridge, there’s also less of a need to ‘codify’ upfront during the setup process (although this is common to other providers too). 

But handling and creating logic for all the endpoints is a significant task for your engineering team and may delay the setup of your new system for several months – time you could be using to bring in more revenue.

Another major issue with Cleverbridge is that it makes life very challenging for users who wish to switch to another provider. In particular, it doesn’t allow businesses to migrate their live customer subscriptions.

This means your customers would have to resubscribe to the new provider with their payment details. That moment fast becomes a danger point where high levels of churn and subsequent revenue loss can easily occur.

Merchant of record services are often complicated, so their users require comprehensive customer support. Unfortunately, Cleverbridge falls short in this area, according to reviews on Trustpilot, where customers report a distinct lack of buyer and seller support, alongside other issues.

As a result, we’ve seen SaaS businesses starting to look elsewhere for Cleverbridge alternatives that are more specifically tailored to the unique needs of global SaaS businesses and their diverse customers.

These needs include covering essential aspects of the SaaS revenue delivery pipeline, including: 

  • Subscriptions and recurring billing 
  • Localization 
  • Customer support and growth advisory 
  • Data, reporting, and analytics 

Any merchant of record that falls short on these essential aspects is going to send leading SaaS executives on the hunt for better alternatives.

Five Reasons why SaaS businesses look for alternatives to Cleverbridge

Every month we speak to SaaS founders and executives who are looking for alternatives to Cleverbridge. 

From those deep-dive conversations, we've gathered insights into exactly what SaaS leaders expect from a revenue delivery solution, and where Cleverbridge is lacking. 

Here are the top five reasons why SaaS executives look for Cleverbridge alternatives.

1. Difficult subscription logic setup

Cleverbridge supports several subscription billing models. But the numerous endpoints take a long time to set up, draining your engineering resources and delaying making use of the platform. What's more, if you decide to move to another provider, Cleverbridge throws plenty of challenges in your way, such as forcing your customers to resubscribe, leading to increased churn and lost revenue.

2. Low checkout conversions

Some SaaS businesses using Cleverbridge have reported low checkout conversions. This could be due to several factors, such as the limited capability for customizing the Cleverbridge shopping cart. On the other hand, Cleverbridge does offer customizable pricing page layouts, although you’ll likely need at least several weeks to get them up and running. What’s more, some geographies struggle with low checkout conversion rates and card payment failures – adding up to higher churn rates. 

3. Slow customer support

It's difficult to adapt Cleverbridge architecture for your specific business needs. For certain changes, you have to go through the Cleverbridge technical support team. But a common frustration is the slow response time of that team. 

And, because Cleverbridge is a merchant of record, it takes on the responsibility of handling order and subscription queries from your customers. 

Unfortunately, customer reviews for Cleverbridge’s buyers support are among the worst in the industry, netting the company just 1.5 stars on Trustpilot. Many of these bad reviews relate to slow response times. Your customers deserve better!  

4. Lacks key features for B2B SaaS growth 

Growth in the SaaS industry typically follows a specific trajectory, but Cleverbridge isn't designed with that in mind. Cleverbridge doesn't provide any dedicated strategic growth support, leaving sellers on their own to figure out and execute growth strategies in their platform.

As mentioned, the Cleverbridge platform was originally created to serve ecommerce businesses that had one-time payment models. That’s why Cleverbridge lacks comprehensive support and functionality for modern subscription-based businesses. 

Here are some specific examples to illustrate what that looks like:

  • Cleverbridge’s feature set is primarily aimed at self-serve selling, focusing heavily on automated card renewals.  
  • Cleverbridge doesn’t offer a sales-assisted invoicing process. This significant omission hinders B2B SaaS businesses in selling upmarket. With Cleverbridge, you’ll need to implement a separate system for handling invoicing and reconciliation – a situation that’s far from ideal. 
  • Inflexible Cleverbridge subscriptions are yet another issue, as they limit common upgrade, downgrade, pause and cancellation flows. 

All in all, Cleverbridge lacks key product features and SaaS-specific expertise, making it a poor fit for meeting the needs of subscription-based companies.  

5. Opaque and costly fees

SaaS leaders also cite opaque and costly fees as key drivers in their search for Cleverbridge alternatives. The total cost of using Cleverbridge is generally higher than competing merchants of record, with costly service add-ons, including ones to help drive your sales and marketing strategy with “best practices”.

 

How to choose the right alternative to Cleverbridge 

We've taken a detailed look at why SaaS businesses look for alternatives to Cleverbridge. But what are the best alternatives for your merchant of record needs? And how can you find exactly the right one for your business? 

Let’s dive in. 

Option #1: A Revenue Delivery Platform

A revenue delivery platform works across the entire customer life cycle. It provides the resources, support and technology to improve the process of delivering revenue from customer to business.  

As an alternative to Cleverbridge, a revenue delivery platform, like Paddle, is an excellent option because it includes a comprehensive merchant of record feature set. 

On top of that, a revenue delivery platform has several key benefits rolled into one platform: 

  • Flexible subscription models that let you optimize your net retention rates and meet your SaaS business needs
  • Dedicated revenue delivery advisors with specialist SaaS growth expertise to help you scale faster 
  • Optimized checkout experience to maximize conversions
  • Unified revenue data that helps you respond rapidly to market shifts
  •  Top-notch and fast-response managed support to keep your customers happy and save you time

Paddle 

Built specifically for the SaaS industry, Paddle is a leading revenue delivery platform. It manages all aspects of revenue delivery, including merchant of record services, for growing SaaS businesses. 

Three key benefits of Paddle as an alternative to Cleverbridge: 

  1. Paddle is designed with SaaS growth strategies in mind, ready to help you expand – whether that’s upmarket, downmarket, or going international. 
  2. Dedicated advisory support team included in the package price (unlike Cleverbridge’s), which provides you with key insights from 2000+ SaaS sellers. 
  3. Customer support team to keep your customers happy with fast response rates and efficient problem-solving (see the reviews on Trustpilot). 

Considering Paddle as an alternative to Cleverbridge? Check out your personalized Paddle revenue platform demo.

Option #2: A Merchant of Record 

When you're considering a Cleverbridge alternative, it's worth looking at Cleverbridge’s major competitors in the merchant of record (MoR) category.   

All MoR platforms will offer global sales tax compliance capabilities as standard, taking on this weighty responsibility on behalf of your business. 

Merchants of record usually also offer several subscription billing models, which can work for SaaS businesses. 

The downside is that typical MoR platforms are legacy systems, designed for e-commerce instead of SaaS. Because they're not tailored in the right way, they can present several challenges when it comes to scaling your SaaS business. 

Here are some of the typical challenges: 

  • MoR platforms often have overly simplistic subscription plans that must be changed manually via the API. This requires engineering skills and is a drain on time and resources. 
  • Many MoR platforms lock customers in, not allowing them to easily export their own customer data when moving to alternative providers. 
  • Lack of payment optimization options at the checkout leads to higher payment failure rates. 
  • Lack of a dedicated customer support team presents a major challenge as customer enquiries increase alongside your growing SaaS business. 

Let's now look at some of the key Cleverbridge alternatives in the merchant of record category.

2Checkout

2Checkout positions itself as a monetization platform, supporting both physical and digital products. It offers a range of payment methods and an optional affiliate platform, which can help drive sales. 

But 2Checkout has a major downside – it no longer processes MasterCard payments in certain regions. As MasterCard is one of the world’s most used credit cards, this situation can be a dealbreaker if your customers need the option of credit card payments. 

2Checkout also offers managed account services and customer support that’s rated more highly than several of the competitors. 

In summary: 2Checkout serves a wide range of business types and provides extra integrations, such as shopping carts, to extend functionality. However, 2Checkout is lacking several key features essential for SaaS businesses, such as the lack of MasterCard payments in certain regions. 2Checkout also makes it difficult to transfer to an alternative provider, refusing to export subscriber lists. 

FastSpring 

FastSpring is a major player in the MoR category, but its dual focus between e-commerce and SaaS means it lacks the levels of subscription flexibility that growing SaaS businesses need. 

Core features of FastSpring include subscriptions, sales tax compliance, payments, anti-fraud and invoicing. 

But FastSpring’s subscriptions are inflexible and would need substantial customization to meet the needs of your typical SaaS customers. 

Also, just like 2Checkout, FastSpring makes it difficult for you to leave their service, creating issues with data portability. What's more, costs are higher than alternative MoR solutions.  

In summary: While a competent MoR platform, FastSpring is poorly suited to SaaS, because of its split focus, inflexible subscriptions, and lack of data portability. At prices higher than other providers, it makes sense to look elsewhere for MoR solutions that are specifically designed with B2B SaaS needs at the forefront.

Digital River  

Digital River is one of the older MoR legacy platforms, which originated as a B2C provider. It has a heavier and more time-consuming implementation process than some of its competitors.  

This remains the case despite Digital River offering a ‘headless commerce’ setup, which can connect separate front ends to the Digital River MoR platform.  

Making this cumbersome implementation process even worse, Digital River lacks comprehensive buyer and seller support, so you'd have to deal with technical issues on your own. This is problematic both for your company and for your customers. 

Digital River is moving towards a greater B2B focus, introducing new invoicing tools and core billing functionality. But, for the time being, it's difficult to look past the poor customer support and difficult implementation. 

In summary: Overall, Digital River lacks sufficient focus on more complex SaaS billing setups to be a good alternative to Cleverbridge. What’s more, we've talked to SaaS executives that use Digital River, and they told us they needed to integrate additional tools to handle SaaS-specific reporting.

PayPro Global 

Similar to 2Checkout, PayPro offers several basic subscription models geared primarily towards B2C. PayPro has a good range of payment options, including routing through different providers to maximize payment success rates. 

PayPro’s strong focus on digital products makes it a decent fit for SaaS, but the downside is the high price point of 4.9% plus $1 on each transaction.  This soon adds up to make PayPro prohibitively expensive, especially compared to alternative MoR providers.   

In summary: PayPro Global suits B2C businesses but has a minimal B2B offering. When combined with its limited subscription models – which you’ll likely have to pay to extend – the high fees mean PayPro falls short for B2B SaaS businesses.