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Recurring subscriptions

A recurring subscription allows you to charge customers on a repeated schedule for products and services. You can offer recurring subscriptions along with the standard one-time purchase to improve your customers' experience and grow revenue.

In Ecwid, the billing cycle for subscriptions can be set to daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Customers can subscribe to food, daily products, cosmetics, access to membership, regular donations, and more.

You need Stripe payment method to set up recurring subscriptions.

Recurring_subscriptions___2_.png

Plan availability: Business, Unlimited.

How recurring subscriptions work in Ecwid

To enable subscriptions in your store, you need to connect your store to Stripe.

For each product you set the billing period. You can allow shoppers to buy a product as a one-time purchase. A subscription period is displayed on storefront for items for subscription only. If an item has a one-time purchase option, customers will see the subscription period on the product page.

You can customize prices to make your subscriptions stand out:

  1. Sign-up fee. Allows you to increase or decrease the price of the first subscription order. For example, you can set the price for the first subscription order for $20, and for every next subscription order for $15.
  2. Free trial. If you set up the sign-up fee for $0, your customers won't be charged for the first order in subscriptions. That means you can offer a free trial for your clients. 
  3. Subscribe and save. If you sell the same items as a one-time purchase and as a subscription, you can make the subscription price lower to entice customers into subscribing to your products. For example, you can set up a one-off price for coffee beans in your store for $20, and the monthly subscription price for $15.

Changing the subscription price won’t affect old customers, only new subscribers.

Buyers can pay for their subscription with a debit or credit card. Once they subscribe to your product, they will be charged automatically according to the subscription period. Shoppers can manage subscriptions in the customer account — cancel it or change payment details. Every time a customer is charged for a subscription, you receive an email and a new order is placed. You also receive an email in case of charging issues or subscription cancellation.

For long-term Ecwid users: Make sure you enable HTML notifications in Settings → What's new to be able to see all the subscription details in your emails.

If you sell products with options and a customer subscribed for a particular one, e.g., a mint-flavored cookie box, they will be subscribed to that specific product variation. If a customer changes their mind, they have to cancel the current subscription and re-subscribe to another product variation, e.g., a chocolate cookie box.

Subscription analytics is displayed in your Ecwid reports. To see reports, go to Dashboard and scroll down to Subscription performance.

Adding recurring subscriptions to your store

To start selling your items regularly, you need to enable the subscription option in your store and add products with the subscription pricing.

Before you proceed with setup, make sure that your store meets the requirements:

  • Connect Stripe as a payment method.
  • Include rules for using recurring subscriptions in your store’s Terms & Conditions. For example, the refund policy, delivery details, etc.
    Make sure to include information about payment terms, non-refundable fees, restrictions on use, termination of subscriptions. You can read more about Terms & Conditions for subscription services in a TermsFeed blog post.

To add subscriptions to your Ecwid store:

  1. From your Ecwid admin, go to Settings → General → Cart & Checkout.
  2. In the Sell subscriptions box, turn on the Product subscriptions toggle to enable products with subscription prices.
  3. Go to Catalog → Products.
  4. Create a new product or select the existing one you want to sell with recurring payments.
  5. In the Pricing section in the product editing page, click Manage pricing options → Sell by subscription and turn on the toggle. Click Save.
  6. A Billing period field will appear. Click on the dropdown menu to select how often you want to charge your customers for this product — Once per day, Once per week, Once per 2 weeks, Once per month, Once per 3 months, Once per year:

    Recurring_subscriptions_billing.png

  7. Tick the Allow purchase without subscription box, so your customers can choose between one-time purchase and subscription. Otherwise, they can only buy a product with a subscription.
  8. (optional) Click Set up one-time purchase price and enter the one-off cost to make a one-time purchase more expensive than a subscription pricing. 
  9. (optional) Click Set up price with signup fee and enter the price for the first order on subscription. Enter the "0" price if you want to make the first order free of charge and offer a free trial.
  10. Click Save.

Done! Now your customers can subscribe to your products. With every new charge, your inventory will be updated automatically. 

You can add options for the product to provide customers a choice. For example, meal kits can be offered with chicken or with shrimps. Note that if a customer chose a product with an option, they will be subscribed to that particular product variation. If a person changes their mind and decides they want to get a product with another flavor, color, etc., they will have to cancel the current subscription and re-subscribe.

If you use other payment methods and want associate Stripe with subscriptions only, you can create a product-specific shipping method for a subscription.

Applying discount coupons to subscriptions

You can offer discount coupons with your subscription. For example, you can send a customer a coupon for a 100% discount and it will work as a free trial before they commit to a recurring payment.

To avoid applying the discount to subsequent orders, make sure to add usage restrictions to a coupon. For example, limit the discount usage to a single use, or once per customer. That way, discount will be applied to the first order only.

If a coupon has no limitations, the discount will be applied to the initial order and all subsequent orders in subscription.

Managing subscriptions

You can check all recurring subscriptions in the My Sales → Subscriptions section in your Ecwid admin. You will see all subscriptions your store ever had, including active, canceled, subscriptions with failed charges, and the ones that need to be confirmed.

To make it easier to find the subscription you are looking for, click Filter and select how you want subscriptions to be displayed. This can help you prioritize your order processing. For instance, you can click Filter → Next Charge Date and select Next 7 days. That way you will see what subscription products need to be prepared and shipped first.

You can also check all the orders that were made within one subscription. For instance, a customer subscribed to one cosmetic box once per month, one hair treatment box once per month, and one shaving set once per month. If you want to see all orders within a subscription, go to My Sales → Subscriptions, find the subscription and click Orders created: 3 orders. You will see all orders that were made within the subscription.

While processing an order, you can change its status, edit order or print order in My Sales → Orders.

To better understand order statuses and editing orders, read the article about managing orders.

Contacting customers

In case you need to specify the delivery address or clarify subscription details, you can always contact your customer in person via email.

To find your customer’s email or phone, go to My Sales → Subscriptions, find the subscription you have issues with, and look up the email of a customer to contact them.

If you want to send automated emails for a particular subscription, for example, an email with the instruction, you can do it with the help of Mailchimp. You need to connect Mailchimp to your Ecwid store and then create the email campaign for a certain product (subscription) in your store.

Editing automated emails

Customers that subscribed to your products will receive the email with order confirmation that contains subscription's summary. They will also receive automated emails if payment confirmation is required, if a charge has failed, or if the subscription is canceled. You can edit the email templates for these automated emails — change the appearance and texts. For instance, change font color to your brand’s colors, change the paragraph’s order, add image, and more.

To edit email templates for subscriptions:

  1. From your Ecwid admin, go to Settings → Notifications.
  2. Click Edit next to one of the templates you want to change — Subscription Canceled, Subscription Charged Failed, or Subscription Payment Confirmation is Required.
  3. Make the changes.
    If you don’t like the result, click Revert to default at the bottom of the template to restore the default template.
  4. Once you are satisfied with the result, click Save.

You can learn more about how to edit emails in your Ecwid store.

Canceling recurring subscription

A subscription can be canceled in three cases — if you cancel the subscription manually, if a customer cancels their subscription manually, or if a charge can’t be made (not enough money on a credit card or the card period has expired). The subscription will be canceled within 7 days if a customer doesn't add a valid card to their account.

To manually cancel a subscription:

  1. From your Ecwid admin, go to My Sales → Subscriptions.
  2. Select the subscription you want to cancel and click Actions → Cancel subscription.

After canceling the subscription, orders will no longer be placed automatically, and the customer won’t be charged any further.

Customer experience

Customers can subscribe to more than one product and manage their subscriptions in their customer account — cancel or change payment details.

Note that If a customer pays for the shipping, they will be charged for it every time during the subscription. For instance, a customer subscribed to a $10 shampoo that costs $5 to ship. In total, it’s $15. The next time they will be charged, it will be $15 — exactly the same sum they paid the first time.

Here’s how recurring subscriptions work for your customers:

  1. Once in your store, customers will see what products you sell with recurring subscriptions. A price will be displayed along with a period of the subscription. For instance, $50 per week:

    Recurring_subscriptions_in_Ecwid_store.png

    Note that a period is displayed for items with subscription only. If an item has an option for a one-time purchase, a subscription period will be displayed on the product details.
  2. If the product has two ways of payment, a customer can choose to buy only once or subscribe:

    recurring_subscription_checkout.png

  3. Once an order is placed, a new account for a customer will be created automatically in your store (if a person hasn't already created an account). A customer will receive an email with the subscription details and a link to log in to the customer account.
  4. Customers can log in to their account and manage their subscriptions by changing card details, cancel subscriptions, check the delivery address. They will also see their payment details, payment history, and your store contacts:

    Recurring_subscriptions_customer_account.jpeg

    You can provide your customers with a direct link to the subscriptions page in their account (e.g., add such a link to your site's navigation). For example, if you have your Ecwid store on the https://www.mywebsite.com/store page of your website, customers can access their subscriptions by going to https://www.mywebsite.com/store/account/subscription
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