Subscriptions

Last modified June 1, 2017

A subscription is a product pricing structure with regular on-going or recurring charges instead of a one time purchase fee. Each subscription contains a subscription definition. A subscription definition includes: how often payments are due, the payment amount, and how long the payments last.  Subscription pricing schemes can also include free trial periods and discounted pricing for a specified period. When defining the subscription, you can configure how often future billings for the subscription will occur. The subscription can be set to automatically rebill at specific interval by setting a recurring period. Alternatively, you can create a subscription with an adhoc rebilling period, allowing you to trigger additional billings manually. The subscription definition is configured via the Pricing field when editing a subscription.

Notes about subscriptions

  • Existing customer subscriptions can be managed by accessing the Activity menu in the Dashboard and then drilling into an order record associated with the subscription.
  • All of the information about a subscription including configuring the subscription definition and generating an order that includes subscription products can be passed through the FastSpring API
  • For subscriptions that renew automatically, your customers will be required to provide payment information when making their initial subscription payment. This same information will be used for their future subscription payments and renewals. Delayed payment methods such as wire transfers and purchase orders are not available.
  • If you have customers that want to order subscriptions using wire transfers or purchase orders, consider configuring your Storefront to allow manual renewal subscriptions.
  • You can offer optional, non-subscription products that will be billed in conjunction with a regular subscription item via the subscription addons feature.
  • For on-demand billing (e.g. with usage-based scenarios), you can create adhoc or managed subscriptions. By definition, managed subscriptions cannot be manual renewal subscriptions.
  • Customers can manage their own subscriptions (including canceling, manual renewals, and payment method management) via FastSpring's customer-facing account management site.
  • If you need to create a subscription with an initial charge that is higher than the regular renewal billings, please see Subscriptions with Higher Initial Billing Charges for details on how to set that up.

You can create, edit and delete subscription-based products by selecting the Products menu and then selecting the Subscriptions tab.

Products menu with the Subscriptions tab selected


 The Search field just below the sub-menu lets you search the list of products, and you can sort the list using the Sort By field.

Search and Sort fields for Subscriptions

The value you enter in the Search will be compared to product IDs and the products' display text (in the primary language), as well as the product ID and display name of any product variations. The search is case-insensitive and does not support wildcards.

By clicking the Sort By drop-down selector, you can sort the list by the product IDDisplay name, or with the Newest (most recently added) products first. By default, the list is sorted by product ID.

Detailed Instructions

Please click a link to jump to the corresponding section of the document.


To create a subscription

If you need to create a subscription-based product from scratch, use the following procedure. However, if you want to use an existing subscription product as a starting point, you can make a copy of an existing subscription and modify the copy.

 

  To copy an existing subscription

To copy an existing subscription

  1. From the Products > Subscriptions menu, select the Subscription-based product that you want to copy. The subscription's detail page will appear.
  2. On the subscription's detail page, click the COPY command near the bottom of the page.

    Example of a subscription's detail page with the COPY command highlighted
     
  3. In the New Product ID field, enter a product path / product ID for the new product. Do not include spaces or punctuation, or you may encounter an error message upon saving the copy.

    Example of copying a subscription
     
  4. In the Display field, enter a product title / display name for the new product. If your Store supports multiple languages, click the language drop-down and enter the product title in each supported language.
  5. If the original subscription you are copying has fulfillment actions, each of those will appear in the Fulfillment Actions section of the window. You can click the drop-down selector next to each and choose whether or not to apply those same fulfillment actions to the new subscription you are creating.
  6. Click .

Tutorial Video

Check out our tutorial video on creating a subscription:   How to Create a Subscription.
  1. From the Products > Subscriptions menu, click .  The Create Subscription popup window will appear.

    The Create Subscription popup window
  2. In the field labeled Product Title displayed to the customer, enter a product title that will be shown in product pages or wherever the subscription is mentioned in your Storefront. This is also sometimes called the display name or the display text. You can change the title later if need be. If your Store supports multiple languages, click the drop-down for the language selector and enter the subscription title in each language.
  3. In the Product Path field, a default value will automatically be created based on the product title. The product path is also sometimes called the product ID. You can override the product ID at this time if desired, but you will not be able to do so later on once the subscription has been saved (except by deleting the product and creating a new one). The product ID cannot contain spaces, punctuation, or certain special characters. The product ID is used to reference the product internally, and it will also be visible in the URL for the Product Page.
  4. In the Price field, enter that will be charged for each billing of the subscription. You can enter different prices for different currencies here.

    Important note about creating the subscription definition

    The subscription definition, including the frequency and the total number of billings, can be configured via the Pricing field once you have clicked CREATE to save the new subscription. You will also be able to specify volume discounts and other pricing options at that time.
  5. Click CREATE. The subscription detail page (where you can edit the subscription-based product) will appear.

    Example of the subscription detail page

To configure product fulfillment for a subscription

In this context, the term fulfillment refers to the method or process by which purchasers receive the value for which they have paid. This may mean providing purchasers with a license key, a product download, or some other means of accessing a licensed product. It is very important to configure fulfillment for each product so that purchasers can receive what they have paid for immediately upon completion of the purchase, or as soon as possible thereafter.

The Fulfillment section of the subscription detail page lets you create or edit fulfillment methods. Unlike other products, subscriptions must be digital products or services - they cannot be physical goods.

Fulfillment section of the subscription detail page

Detailed information about fulfillment options can be found in Fulfillments.

  1. Click ADD FULFILLMENT.  The Add Fulfillment Action page will open.

    Add Fulfillment Action page
  2. Select the radio button next to the fulfillment action you want to add, and then click NEXT.
    1. Generate a License - Selecting this option will allow you to have a license generated for the purchaser. Click Choose a generator... to see a list of the available generation methods and select a method.
      1. Pre-defined List - Selecting this option will allow you to paste in a list of pre-defined license keys for distribution to customers who purchase this product.

      2. Script (PHP or JavaScript) - Selecting this option will allow you to specify your own custom license generation script (PHP or JavaScript).

      3. Remote Server Request - Selecting this option will tell FastSpring to contact an external server of your specification in real-time, during order processing, to request and receive a license key for this product.

      4. CocoaFob - Selecting this will let you specify a DSA Private Key that will be used in generation of licenses for this product.

    2. Provide a File Download - Selecting this option will let you upload a product file that will be served to customers as a download upon completion of a purchase for this product.
    3. Create a Signed PDF - Selecting this option will allow you to upload a PDF file that will be stamped by FastSpring with each customer's name and order information, which can then be served to customers as a download upon completion of a purchase for this product.
  3. Follow the prompts to complete configuration of the selected fulfillment action.


To edit a subscription

When you have completed the initial setup of a subscription-based product, or upon clicking the tile for any product in the list of products, the subscription detail page will open.

Example of the subscription detail page
 

  • Product path / product ID - This is shown at the top left-hand corner of the section. It is used to identify the subscription record internally as well as in a Storefront URL for the Product Page. It cannot be edited following subscription creation.
  • Icon -  Click the field label to upload a product image, such as a box shot or screen shot. Click Choose File and browse to and select an image file on your network or your local computer, and then click SAVE.

    Notes about product icons

    The supported image file formats are .png, .jpg and .gif. Storefronts will display an image file up to 256 x 256 pixels in size. If the image you upload is too large or too small, it will be re-sized to fit within this space.
  • Display - Edit the subscription title or display text shown for this product. If your Store supports multiple languages, click the language drop-down and enter the subscription title in each language.
  • Summary - Enter a short summary description of the subscription in each language supported by your Store. This text is shown on the Homepage and the Product Page in a Web Storefront. This field will accept a fairly long summary, but consider using the Long Description field if you want to provide a large amount of text about the subscription. Note:  This field accepts markdown.
  • Long Description - This field lets you provide additional text about the subscription-based product in each supported language. This text can be displayed when a purchaser clicks on the product title or Display name in a Web Storefront. The contents of this field are shown in a Lightbox that overlays the Product Page. Note:  This field accepts markdown.
  • SKU - Optionally enter an internal SKU ID or part number. This is only used for your tracking purposes in identifying the subscription-based product.
  • EDS - If the optional Extended Download Service (EDS) is enabled for your account, it will be enabled by default for all products and subscriptions that have at least one file download fulfillment action. Subscriptions without a download will not have this field displayed; similarly, if EDS is not enabled for your account, this field will not be displayed. If you want to disable EDS for this subscription, click this field. A popup window will appear, where you can clear the check box labeled Enable for this product, and save your changes. For more information about EDS, please see our Knowledge Base article Extended Download Service (EDS).
  • Call to Action - By default, the subscription's action button, which selects the subscription and adds it to the cart, will be labeled Add. The Call to Action field lets you provide an alternative button label in each supported language, which will also be shown next to the option to select this subscription if you specify a product alternative.
  • Post Order Instructions - This field lets you provide text that will be shown next to this subscription on the Completion Page, following a successful order. It is important to enter instructions or information here so that purchasers know what to do next following a completed purchase. This may include a description of how to download the software or register using the license key, etc. If your Store supports multiple languages, click the language drop-down and enter the information or instructions in each supported language. Note:  This field accepts markdown.
  • Pricing - Click here to specify the product price in each supported currency. This is also where you control the subscription definition, including the frequency and number of rebillings. In addition, you can set options to control the quantity being purchased as well as volume discounts or other types of discounts (e.g. for a temporary promotion). For more information about defining the subscription terms, see Product Price Settings.  For more information about currencies, conversions and taxes, see Currencies and Conversions
  • Public/Private - This drop-down selector (at the upper right-hand corner of the section) lets you control whether or not the subscription is available to external customers. This is set to Public by default, but if you click the drop-down and select Switch to Private, the subscription will only be purchasable via test orders. A message that says "inaccessible" will be shown when you go to a live Storefront page for the subscription. In addition, the Links popup window for the subscription or Storefront does not show Live links for private subscriptions.

 

To test the Product Page for a subscription, click LINKS near the bottom of the section, and then click one of the provided links to view the Product Page.


To delete a subscription

  1. From the Products > Subscriptions menu, click the tile of the subscription you want to delete.
  2. On the subscription detail page, click the MORE drop-down menu and select Delete.
  3. Click OK when prompted to confirm that you want to delete the subscription.