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FastSpring Subscription & Recurring Billing Features
Multi-Currency & Multiple Payment Methods
For recurring billing products and services, we accept PayPal and all major credit cards, including Visa®, Mastercard®, American Express®, Discover®, and JCB®. Customers can pay for your products & services in their own currency, including Euro, Pound, Australian Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Yes, Swiss Franc, Danish Krone, Hong Kong Dollar, New Zealand Dollar, Singapore Dollar and Swedish Krona.
PayPal, like other payment methods, is accepted in all 10 currencies, and is a popular choice that can increase both customer conversion and LTV.
Many other subscription solutions either do not support PayPal at all or require that vendors maintain a separate PayPal account. Unlike credit cards, PayPal accounts associated with subscriptions do not expire, leading to improved customer retention.
With FastSpring, you get multi-currency, localized order pages and a full range of payment methods in a single, hassle-free solution.
Subscription Product Setup
Setting up a subscription product through SpringBoard, our powerful, intuitive e-commerce platform, is quick and easy. You set up a subscription product, select its billing period, indicate the total number of times a recurring charge will occur, and save the setup.
- Fulfillment actions can be applicable always, on first order only or on rebills only.
- We support initial fees that can be charged on activation in addition to the recurring cycle, as well as first subscription periods with different length and/or price.
- FastSpring's expert support team is happy to do the setup work for you if you'd like, just ask. They can advise you on the few simple integration steps necessary on your end to take your subscription store live.
View Subscription Product Setup Screenshot
Rich Notification Engine - Customizable Communications
Follow-up steps for subscription notifications are easy to set up too. Credit cards may expire, get lost, or canceled. Therefore, over time recurring payments can fail. FastSpring manages the process of following up with the customer after their payment fails using up to four customizable steps.
- At a minimum the steps require that the customer receive at least one chance to correct their payment information, and three days in which to correct it before their subscription is canceled.
- FastSpring's SpringBoard platform also provides proactive pre-billing reminder notifications for annual and bi-annual subscriptions as they approach renewal. This feature serves to inform customers of their pending renewal and allows them to update credit card information (such as expiration dates) as needed. These notifications, of particular importance for annual billing cycles, serve to reduce both churn and support costs, and can be fully customized as well.
- Notifications sent prior to switching from trial to paid subscriptions are also integrated into SpringBoard.
- All notifications set up within SpringBoard can be both html (view example) and plain text, so you have the ability to customize not only the wording but also the design of your outgoing notification emails.
- Notifications can be easily localized using SpringBoard's "Phrases" and "Template Code Logic" functionality (view support article).
View Notification Configuration Screenshots
Customized Fulfillment Actions
Subscription products may have fulfillment actions like any other product—such as customized plain text or html emails with login details (or even delivery of license codes). Due to their recurring nature, you can customize when the fulfillment actions are applicable on a subscription.
The following scenarios are supported for subscription fulfillment actions:
- Applicable always (for first order and all future rebills)
- Applicable on the first order only (not applicable on future rebills)
- Applicable on rebills only (not applicable on the first order)
You can also further customize a fulfillment action for a subscription using advanced settings within SpringBoard, allowing a block of template text to be inserted as a named variable into an e-mail/web fulfillment template.
API for Seamless Integration
FastSpring's existing APIs for authentication, orders and notifications are built upon in our recurring billing offering with new subscription-specific APIs. These include Get Subscription, Update Subscription, Cancel Subscription and Renew (for "On-Demand" subscriptions). Full documentation and code examples are available on our github site.
- Get Subscription: Returns a single subscription identified by its reference. You can get that reference by defining a Postback notification.
- Update Subscription: Updates an existing subscription with the given data. Coupon functionality will be used for the product or quantity change.
- Cancel Subscription: The delete action causes the cancellation of a subscription at next period.
- Renew: Applies to On-Demand subscriptions only. Renews the subscription according to predefined conditions.
In addition to the detailed reporting features available within SpringBoard (such as by product, country, date ranges, and many other parameters), additional subscription-specific reporting is revealed for subscriptions, including total subscribers, outstanding subscriber charges, and upcoming rebills. These data points give you both an overview of your business and the ability to drill-down to the subscriber level to see individual activity.
- SpringBoard has built-in data export too for your reports, so there is no need to use an API to get data out of the system and into external accounting programs.
- Subscription reporting and data exports – including Active Subscribers and Inactive Subscribers CSV exports – are built right into the administrative UI.
On-Demand subscriptions give you the ability to charge at an as-needed schedule instead of a pre-defined schedule (such as monthly). This is especially useful for services which are credit-based, and have variable usage of the product/service over time. For instance, a customer has subscribed to a certain amount/quantity of your service, and arrives mid-month at a point where she has used up her allotted amount and needs to renew. You keep track of the usage or renewal request and simply call our API to credit them another block of service usage so she can continue with your service without interruption.
Examples of On-Demand subscriptions include the following business scenarios:
- Email sending service where the customer pays per email, or block of emails (e.g. postmarkapp.com)
- Stock photo service where the customer pays per photo, or block of photos (e.g. istockphoto.com)
- Communication service where the customer pays per minute, or block of minutes (e.g. skype.com)
On-Demand subscriptions are also useful when coupled with our Update Subscription API. Using this API you can optionally update the quantity/units (and therefore total cost of renewal), prior to calling the renew API. This gives your business additional flexibility in fulfilling the on-demand needs of your customers, which may vary considerably over time.
View On-Demand Subscription Configuration Screenshots
Unique, Secure Customer Page
Each of your customers will have a secure, unique page for payment information updates, subscription cancellation, and display of billing history.
- The link to this page is delivered to your customers on initial sign up, is available for each subscription record within SpringBoard, and can also live in the member's section of your site.
- We eliminate in this manner the need for a second sign in on the part of your customers, to keep things straightforward.
- This hosted customer page feature helps you as well to steer clear of any need to demonstrate PCI compliance, as no credit card information ever enters your system.
View Customer Subscription Record & Customer Page Screenshots
You can test the whole life cycle of a subscription order in SpringBoard's UI, just as you can via the API. Your test environment behaves exactly the same way as it will in your live store.
- Create a Subscription: You can either create a subscription from SpringBoard or from your external website/application. From SpringBoard, within the Store Testing area, you can open one of the test links and order a subscription product. If you want to test subscription creation outside of SpringBoard, you must add the parameter "mode=test" to the URL or POST. This puts the purchase process in test mode and allows you to enter your username and password as payment information.
- Subscription Details: Within the Recent Orders tab of the Reporting console, you can open the test order you created. The View Subscription link provides all details and actions for the subscription order.
- Edit a Subscription: You can Upgrade or Downgrade a subscription by editing a subscription. Edit lets you change the product and simulate an upgrade or downgrade to another subscription plan. You can also change the quantity and the end date of a subscription. You can either set an end date or remove an existing end date. Removing an existing end date makes the subscription run indefinitely.
- Cancel a Subscription: Cancel Now lets you stop a subscription immediately, while Cancel at Next Period lets you schedule the cancellation at the end of the given billing cycle—changing the end date to the day before the start of the next billing cycle.
- Simulate Failures & Successful Future Payments: Billing simulation functionality is like a time machine; it allows simulation of upcoming steps, including simulating a failure (cycling through each dunning step until the subscription cancels) and simulating without failure (cycling through successful future billings).
View Subscription Testing Screenshots
Changing Plans & Prorating
You can easily switch between subscription plans and change quantities in the middle of a billing period. Usually the new amount will then be billed at the next recurring billing period and the billing date will remain constant. Such changes can be made directly in SpringBoard or via the Update Subscription API.
- FastSpring also offers the option to perform a prorated change, which is quite useful for subscriptions that either have different periods/frequencies, or subscriptions that are longer than one month.
- For example, changing from a $50 yearly plan to a $100 yearly plan on month 6 of the current year results in a significant difference that won't be captured for another 6 months.
- By using the prorated option you can capture that difference immediately.
View Plan Change/Prorating Screenshot
Sell subscriptions with built-in trial period. The user's credit card is taken at the start of trial but not charged. It is then charged at the trial expiration date. The user can cancel in the meantime. This can be a great method of giving your customers the full experience of your service right away at no initial cost, and then converting them to paying customers at the end of the trial period.
- FastSpring also supports paid trials.
- In addition, pre-payment notifications can be sent to customers before switching from free first period to paid period subscriptions.
One-time (or set up) fees for subscriptions are configured in SpringBoard as product options.
- Product options are an advanced configuration capability of FastSpring's platform that allows you to create bundles, or product offerings that include multiple components.
- This feature allows customers to be presented with a variety of different options that will ultimately make up the final purchase.
- For example, a required set-up fee can be "bundled" with a subscription purchase.
- With this feature, you can easily create a subscription offering with a required initial one-time set up fee clearly presented to prospective customers.
- One-time fees support customizable descriptions and, as with other features, can be tested using SpringBoard's testing links prior to going live.
View One-Time Fee Setup & Testing Screenshots
Installment Payment Plans
FastSpring supports installment payment plans, where customers can "lease to buy" software.
- Installment plans can be useful for products that are more expensive and paying the whole amount upfront is an obstacle to customer acquisition.
- This feature is a type of "special case" subscription, as the recurring billing has a fixed end period with the final payment.
Combine One-Time & Subscription Sales
Because FastSpring is a full-service e-commerce provider for downloadable products, including software, games, e-books and other digital products, you are not limited to selling subscription software or services sold exclusively through recurring billing.
- Unlike basic recurring billing providers, with FastSpring you can cater to your customers' complementary desktop software needs.
- You can offer them products with subscription services as add-ons (for support, value-added content, membership to portals, and so on).
- Alternately, you can offer customers your SaaS on a recurring billing basis and also downloadable products – as one-time purchases – that work as a complement to your service.
- For desktop software vendors, increase revenue and the life-time value (LTV) of your customers by expanding your offerings to include recurring services.
Each subscription has the ability to have administrative or order support notes attached.
- Individual customer support notes can be a very useful feature in tracking support, communications, special requests or any other pertinent interactions with the customer over the lifetime of their subscription.
For many clients, there are ways to make migrating subscription data from another service or database over to ours a relatively seamless process. Please contact us for information on our migration solutions.
For additional details and documentation on FastSpring's subscription functionality, please refer to our Support Documentation.
PayPal™ is a registered trademark of eBay Company. | American Express® is a registered trademark of American Express Company. | Mastercard® is a registered trademark of MasterCard. | Discover® is a registered trademark of Discover Bank. | Visa® is a registered trademark of Visa Inc. | JCB® is a registered trademark of JCB & Co., Ltd.