Getting Started With FastSpring

Last modified December 9, 2016

Hello and welcome to FastSpring!

Whether you are looking to set up the complete store experience using our classic web checkout or simply want to integrate some of our features with your current website, FastSpring can provide the solution.  Our classic web checkout provides full hosting capability and can be up and available for testing in less than 30 minutes.  For those that want to enhance their current website with selected e-commerce features, we provide an extensive API library that allows you to connect to FastSpring at any point during your existing processes. 

Before getting started with Setup let's walk through some of the major concepts used by the FastSpring solutions.

Stores & Storefronts

FastSpring solutions are built on a hierarchy of Companies, Stores, and Storefronts.  Companies and Stores are created by FastSpring and are updated and maintained by your administrator.  You create your Storefronts and all associated attributes including products, prices, promotions, etc..  

 Differences between Stores and Storefronts

Your FastSpring Store can consist of one or more Storefronts.

A Store:

  • Defines your products, offers, promotions, design of emails, default currency, and other "major" settings. 
  • Controls what happens before, during, and after an order.

A Storefront:

  • Defines the web interface presented to customers. 
  • Has its own URL (usually similar to https://example.test.onfastspring.com/). 
  • Can be very different depending on the type of checkout process used - for example you can use the full function Classic "Web" Checkout or the payment-only Popup Storefront on your website. See Ways To Checkout With FastSpring for more details on the available checkout types. 
  • Can be "online" and accessed through a test or live URL or "offline" and accessed through a test URL. 
  • Provides options to override many of the Store settings. 

See When should you use multiple Storefronts? for more information on why you may want to create multiple Storefronts.

A Storefront can be Online or Offline.  When Online, the Storefront is available to your customers and they can make "real" purchases. Online Storefronts also have a test environment that can be used to test design changes and integrations.  When in the Offline status there is no public access and you can only make test purchases using the special test URL.  For more details regarding Storefront statuses and URLs see "Online" and "Offline" Storefronts.  For a deeper understanding of the entire checkout process, please refer to Order Flow.

Sandbox and Staging Environment

To simplify testing and deployment, FastSpring does not implement dedicated Sandbox and Staging environments for each Store. Instead, we recommend using multiple Stores for development and staging. This approach allows you to have completely isolated environments with separate access rights, settings, product portfolio, and more.  Contact FastSpring support for more information or to set up additional Stores. 

Products and Variations

Products

"Product" is a general term which identifies a "sellable" item that can be added to the cart and checked out. Products are defined at the "Store" level and can be used by any storefront and accessed through the FastSpring API and Store Builder Library.  Products can also be included in Bundles.  A bundle contains more than one product and the individual product list prices are typically discounted when the entire bundle is purchased. 

FastSpring offers two types of purchase options:  One-time and Subscription.  A one-time purchase is fully paid and completed at the end of the shopping session.  A subscription consists of recurring payments that may occur automatically at specified intervals and do not require the customer to re-enter payment information for each occurrence.

  • Products have a title, description, and a price defined in multiple currencies, with optional discounts. (See Currencies, Conversions and Taxes for more information about automatic price conversions and tax collection).
  • Subscriptions are products whose prices may be defined as recurring at a specified interval (i.e.:  how often and how much should the customer's payment account be charged for a purchase).
  • Bundles allow you to group multiple products together into a single bundle sold for a predefined amount which may or may not differ to the sum of the individual product prices.

Variations

Variations allow you to create a clone of your product and only change some details like price or description – while everything else continues to be inherited from the original product and are updated on each change.  Variations are useful when you want to keep the original product and fulfillment intact yet offer a discount or some other adjustment to the product.  Additional information on using variations can be found in the Product Variations section.

Offers and Options 

To enhance the buying experience, FastSpring provides the option to connect multiple products through Product Offers and Product Options.  Product Offers allow you to create cross-sells and up-sells for your customers. Both of these are an effective way to increase revenue and demonstrate the breadth of a catalog to customers.  Through Product Options you can provide your customers with an alternative product or additional products related to their original selection.  This provides you the ability to present the customer with the option to purchase an item to enhance their original selection, such as adding customer support or extending the product warranty. 

Extensions

FastSpring offers a wide range of extensions that offer advanced out-of-the-box functionality. They range from the FastSpring Affiliate Solution tracking and Google Universal Analytics to advanced support of Google Tag Manager and DevMate.   The Extensions tab of the Integration menu provides a continuously updated list of current extensions.   

In addition to our library of out-of-the-box extensions, we also offer the ability to configure server and browser webhooks to notify your web pages (and your back-end web server) of events occurring during the Order Flow process.

Integration

As a true platform, FastSpring can be tightly integrated to your website and back end by using a variety of tools like the  FastSpring APIStore Builder LibraryExtensions Tab and  Webhooks.  FastSpring's APIs and Store Builder Library provide you with the ability to connect at any point in your process, and by adding extensions and webhooks you have the ultimate flexibility while continuing to utilize existing applications and vendor integrations.  See  Integrating with FastSpring for available options.

Ready to get started? Your first decision will be to select the type of checkout process that you will use.  It is important that you review Ways to Checkout With FastSpring before beginning the set up of your store and storefronts.  We also advise you to follow our Setup Checklist while setting up your first store.