Pre-paid subscriptions allow customers to pay for multiple orders upfront, while still ensuring that they receive their product on a regular cadence. You can also set up pre-paid gift subscriptions, which include an expiration to ensure it expires after a certain number of charges. This guide explains how to configure pre-paid subscriptions in Recharge.
Before you start
- Pre-paid subscriptions can be a great way to offer further subscribe and save incentives to your customers. Where one monthly subscription may cost $10, purchasing a three-month pre-paid subscription might only cost $25, and a six-month subscription may only cost $50. That way customers can pre-pay for their subscriptions and save, while your business benefits from increased customer retention.
- A subscription product can only have one frequency configured at a given time. If you want to offer multiple pre-paid options with different frequencies and prices, create multiple products in your ecommerce platform.
Step 1 - Create your product in your ecommerce platform
Begin by creating a new product on your ecommerce platform. These steps vary depending on the ecommerce platform you are using:
Important notes for setting up products for pre-paid subscriptions
The price of the product should reflect the total cost of all the shipments upfront, and should be multiplied by the number of pre-paid months you plan to offer. For example, if you want to charge customers every three months for a product that typically costs $10 a month, set the pre-paid product price at $30 to account for all three shipments. This ensures that customers are charged the amount upfront to cover the future pre-paid shipments.
Create separate products for every pre-paid subscription option
You must create a separate product on your ecommerce platform for every pre-paid subscription option you wish to offer your customers. This is because only one order schedule can be set when configuring a pre-paid subscription rule in Recharge. Additionally, each product can only have one set of subscription rules added to it in Recharge, meaning that one product cannot be offered as both a three-month and a six-month pre-paid subscription.
Creating individual products allows you to offer customers alternative pre-paid frequency options, as you can set a different order schedule for each product once added to Recharge.
For example, you would need to create a total of three subscription rules for three separate products if you were to offer a monthly subscription, as well as a three-month pre-paid subscription and a six-month pre-paid subscription. An example of these three separate products is shown below:
Step 2 - Add products to Recharge
The steps for adding products to Recharge differ based on the Recharge checkout platform your store is using.
Merchants using the Shopify Checkout Integration or the Recharge Checkout on BigCommerce:
- In the Recharge Dashboard, click the Products tab and select Products from the drop-down.
- Click Add products.
- Search and select the pre-paid product you want to add to Recharge.
- Select Add product.
Merchants using the Recharge Checkout on Shopify:
- In the Recharge Dashboard, click the Products tab and select Rulesets from the drop-down.
- Click Create ruleset.
- Name your Ruleset. This is only visible internally so feel free to give the ruleset a descriptive name, especially if you have multiple rulesets.
- Click Add products.
- Click the + icon to add a product to the Ruleset. Click the x to exit the window when you are done selecting the product.
Step 3 - Configure the pre-paid subscription rules for the product
Use the subscription rules settings page to define the subscription type, as well as any order schedules that should apply to the subscription.
Step 1 - Select the subscription type
Select Pre-paid subscription only under Subscription type.
Step 2 - Set the order schedule
Configure the order schedule to reflect when you would like to charge customers upfront for their scheduled shipments, and when you would like to ship those orders to your customers.
For example, you would use the following settings if you wanted customers to receive a product monthly, and pay once every three months:
- Ship product every: 1 month. This ensures that customers receive one order every month.
- Charge customer every: 3 months. This ensures that customers are charged for their monthly shipment once every three months.
Step 3 - (Optional) Charge customers on a specific day of the month
Optionally, you can choose when the subscription is submitted for shipment. By default, the product will be sent on the same day the initial checkout occurred, but you can also select a specific date.
Step 4 - Set the subscription to expire after a set number of charges
You can set an expiration for the pre-paid subscription so that it expires after a certain number of charges. This is necessary if you are setting up a pre-paid gift subscription.
Click the checkbox Set the subscription to expire after a set number of charges and enter 1 in the text box. This indicates that the customer will be charged once for the entirety of the order and the pre-paid cycle will not repeat. Click Save when finished.
Step 4 - Configure shipping settings
Costs related to pre-paid subscriptions, such as shipping and taxes, are only charged depending on the order schedule configured. For example, with a three-month pre-paid subscription, customers receive an order every month but are only charged every 3 months. As such, it's important to offer a shipping rate that covers the cost of shipping the product on the months where customers have already pre-paid.
To ensure that accurate shipping is charged you may want to set the weight of this product to equal the weight of the individual product multiplied by the number of shipments that will be sent. Refer to the chart below, and visit Shipping by Weight to learn more about this shipping setup.
If it costs $5/month:
The rates would need to be structured as:
The products would then need weights:
x lbs - x lbs: $5
1-month: x lbs
3-month pre-paid: $15
y lbs - y lbs: $15
3-month pre-paid: y lbs
6-month pre-paid: $30
z lbs - z lbs: $30
6-month pre-paid: z lbs
Pre-paid orders in your ecommerce platform
When a customer purchases a pre-paid subscription they will be charged the amount of the pre-paid subscription upfront. Subsequent orders in the subscription will be submitted to your ecommerce platform at $0.00. This allows you to fulfill the order without charging customers again.
If you also sell one-time products and recurring subscription products, you may want to adjust your Shopify notifications so as to not confuse customers when they receive an invoice for a $0 shipment order. For information on how to adjust your notifications, visit Adjust Shopify notification for $0 pre-paid orders.
Customer changes to pre-paid subscriptions
If a customer makes a change to their pre-paid subscription, it will only affect the next charge and not the scheduled shipments of their current pre-paid cycle. You will need to manually update the remaining orders in the already processed set of shipments. Refer to Changing variants or products for pre-paid subscriptions.
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