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About Subscriptions

Overview

This article provides an overview of how subscription products and customers' subscription instances work.

A subscription is a type of product that features regular ongoing or recurring charges instead of a one-time purchase fee.

Each subscription product 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 rebill automatically at a specific interval by setting a recurring period.

Alternatively, you can create a subscription with a managed rebilling period, allowing you to trigger additional billings manually. The subscription definition is configured via the Pricing section of a subscription product's detail page in the FastSpring App.

Notes About Subscriptions

  • You can manage existing customer subscription instances by accessing the Activity menu in the FastSpring App and then drilling into an order record associated with the subscription. The Items section of the order details contains a View Subscription link that you can use to access the subscription details.
  • You can create subscription products, including the subscription definitions, by posting to the FastSpring API
  • For subscriptions that renew automatically, your customers must provide payment information when making their initial subscription payment. FastSpring will use the same payment method details for the customers' future subscription rebills and renewals. Delayed payment methods, such as wire transfers and purchase orders, are not available for subscriptions with automatic rebills.
  • 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 product (e.g., as a bundle) via the subscription addons feature.
  • For on-demand billing (e.g., with usage-based scenarios), you can create managed subscriptions. By definition, managed subscriptions cannot be manual renewal subscriptions.
  • Customers can manage their subscriptions (including canceling, un-canceling, manual renewals, and payment method management) via FastSpring's customer-facing account management site.
  • If you need to collect an additional initial fee at the start of a subscription that will not be part of the regularly scheduled billings, use a one-time setup fee. More information is available in our Subscription Pricing article.

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

 The Filter field at the top right-hand corner of the Subscriptions tab lets you filter the list of products, and you can sort the list by clicking any column heading.

The Filter field lets you filer the list by product ID, products' Display names (in English), prices, charge intervals (e.g., "Monthly"), trial days and created dates. The search is case-insensitive and does not support wildcards.

 

 

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 product and modify the copy.

To Copy an Existing Subscription

  1. From the Subscriptions tab of the Products menu in the FastSpring App, select the subscription product that you want to copy. The subscription's detail page appears.
  2. On the subscription's detail page, click the Options button at the upper right-hand corner and select Copy Product.

  3. In the New Product ID field, enter a product path/product ID for the new product. Do not include spaces or punctuation.

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

 

To Create a Brand New Subscription

  1. From the Subscriptions tab of the Products menu, click . The Create Subscription popup window appears.

  2. In the field labeled Subscription Name, enter a product title to appear in product pages or wherever the subscription is mentioned in your Storefront. This field is also sometimes called the display name. You can change the title later if need be. You can optionally click the drop-down for the language selector and enter the subscription title in each desired language.
  3. In the Product Path field, a default value is automatically 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. However, you will not be able to change the product ID once the subscription has been saved (except copying the existing product to a new product ID). The product ID cannot contain spaces, punctuation, or certain special characters. The product ID is used to reference the product internally, and it is also visible in the URL for the Product Page.
  4. In the Summary field, enter descriptive text about the subscription product. This text appears on your Web Storefront, and you can also access it via the Store Builder Library. You can optionally click the drop-down for the language selector and enter the subscription title in each desired language.
  5. In the Billing Cycle field, click the drop-down and select the frequency at which FastSpring will charge customers for this subscription.
  6. In the Price field, enter the amount to be charged for each billing of the subscription. Your Store's default currency appears by default, but you can optionally click All Currencies to enter specific pricing in other currencies. For more information, see Subscription Pricing and Currencies, Conversions and Taxes.
  7. Click Create. You are returned to the Subscriptions tab of the Products menu, with a confirmation message indicating that the subscription has been created.

 

To Edit a Subscription

When you have completed the initial setup of a subscription product, or upon clicking any subscription product in the list of subscriptions, the subscription detail page opens. The page is divided into sections of related subscription attributes. You can click the Edit button in any section to edit the values of the fields in that section.

  • 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. The selector is set to Public by default. If you click the drop-down and select Switch to Private, the subscription can only be purchased when offered as a product option of another product. Attempting to view the Product Page for a private subscription results in an "inaccessible" message. Also, the Checkout Links popup window for the subscription or Storefront does not show Live links for private subscriptions.
  • Product Path - Also called the product ID. This ID identifies the subscription record internally as well as in a Storefront URL for the product page. You cannot modify the ID following subscription creation.
  • Display - Edit the subscription title or display text shown for this product. You can optionally click the language drop-down and enter the subscription title in each desired language.
  • Summary - Enter a brief description of the subscription. You can click the language drop-down and enter the description in each desired language. This text appears on the Homepage and the product page in a Web Storefront. This field can 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.
  • Icon - Click the field label to upload a product image, such as a box shot or screenshot. 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. Web Storefronts can display an image file with a size of up to 256 x 256 pixels. The optional cart in Popup Storefronts can display an image as large as 46 x 46 pixels. If the image you upload is too large or too small, the Storefront page automatically resizes it to fit within this space.

     

  • Pricing - Click Edit to specify the subscription product's price in each supported currency. This field is also where you control the subscription definition, including the frequency and number of rebills. In addition, you can set options to control the quantity that customers can purchase. For more information about defining the subscription terms, see Subscription Pricing. For more information about currencies, conversions and taxes, see Currencies, Conversions and Taxes
  • Discount -  Click the Edit button here if you want to specify a product discount, including volume discounts (e.g., for a temporary promotion).

 

In this context, the term fulfillment refers to the method or process by which customers receive the product or service. This may mean providing customers with a license key, a product download, or some other means of accessing a licensed product. It is crucial to configure a fulfillment action for each product. Customers must receive what they have paid for immediately upon completion of the purchase, or as soon as possible after that.

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

 Note

You can find detailed information about fulfillment options in our Fulfillments article.
  1. Click Add Fulfillment. The Add Fulfillment Action page opens.

  2. Select the radio button next to the fulfillment action you want to add, and then click Next.
    • Send Email - (Uncommon) Selecting this option instructs FastSpring to send an additional email message to the customer containing any applicable fulfillment details. This legacy option is maintained for backward compatibility, and is no longer necessary since the receipt email message automatically includes fulfillment details. We do not recommend selecting this option unless instructed by FastSpring Support.
    • Generate a License - Selecting this option allows you to have a license generated for the customer. Click Choose a generator... to see a list of the available generation methods and select a method.
      • Pre-defined List - Selecting this option allows you to paste in a list of pre-defined license keys for distribution to customers who purchase this product.
      • Script (PHP or JavaScript) - Selecting this option allows you to specify a custom license generation script (PHP or JavaScript) for use by FastSpring in generating license keys.
      • Remote Server Request - Selecting this option tells FastSpring to contact a specified external server in real-time, during order processing, to request and receive a license key for this product.
      • CocoaFob - Selecting this lets you specify a DSA Private Key for use by FastSpring in the generation of CocoaFob license keys for this product.
      • AquaticPrime - Selecting this option lets you configure license file generation for use with your AquaticPrime project.
      • Software Passport - Selecting this option lets you configure license key generation compatible with your Software Passport project.
    • 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.
    • Create a Signed PDF - Selecting this option allows you to upload a PDF file that will be stamped by FastSpring with each customer's name and order information. The stamped PDF file will then be served to customers as a download upon completion of a purchase for this product.
  3. Follow the prompts to complete the configuration of the selected fulfillment action.

 

The Notifications and Cancellation section lets you configure optional notifications sent from FastSpring to the customer, as well as controlling the timing of subscription cancellation due to a declined rebill transaction.

The Notifications section is all about the subscription-related email messages that FastSpring sends to customers.

  • Send payment reminder - Selecting this checkbox causes FastSpring to send pre-billing reminder email messages to the customer. It also causes the field configuration to change, providing you with options for controlling when FastSpring will send pre-billing reminders. Enter the number of days, weeks, months, or years in advance of each scheduled payment that reminder messages will be sent. Then, click the drop-down selector and specify the corresponding unit of time measurement (Days, Weeks, Months, or Years). The default value is 1 Day.

    If you want to send more than one reminder message before each billing, click Add Reminder and repeat this process up to four times. If you change your mind and want to remove one of the scheduled reminders, click Remove.

    When editing an existing subscription product, you can optionally select the Apply payment reminder change to active subscriptions checkbox. Please see Changing Subscription Notification and Cancellation Settings for more information.

     Important note about payment reminders

    We encourage you to enable payment reminders. Payment reminders may help reduce the occurrence of disputes and chargebacks. Without payment reminders, some customers might forget about the subscription and feel taken by surprise when an automatic charge appears on their payment account.
  • Send payment overdue notification - If you select this checkbox, FastSpring will send email messages to purchasers whose subscription payments have failed. The purpose of these messages is to give purchasers a chance to resolve the payment issue before the subscription is canceled. Selecting this checkbox also causes the field configuration to change, providing you with options for controlling when payment overdue messages will be sent. In addition, the Cancellation section below takes into consideration the values entered here. Enter how often these messages will be sent by specifying the frequency and unit of time measurement (e.g., Every 2 Weeks). You can also control the total number of notices that FastSpring will send before canceling the subscription automatically. The default values are to send notifications every 2 Weeks for 5 times total.

    When editing an existing subscription product, you can optionally select the Apply overdue notification change to active subscriptions checkbox. Please see Changing Subscription Notification and Cancellation Settings for more information.

 

The Cancellation section of the window lets you control how long a purchaser's subscription can remain active following a declined billing - or following a series of payment overdue notification email messages.

  • When editing an existing subscription product, you can optionally select the Apply cancellation change to active subscriptions checkbox. Please see Changing Subscription Notification and Cancellation Settings for more information.

    If you have not selected to Send payment overdue notification messages above, enter the number of days, weeks, months, or years that the subscription will remain active from the date of the failed payment. Then, click the drop-down selector and specify the corresponding unit of time measurement (Days, Weeks, Months, or Years). The default value is 2 Weeks.

    If you have selected the option to Send payment overdue notification messages above, enter the number of days, weeks, months, or years that the subscription will remain active from the date of the last payment overdue notification. Then, click the drop-down selector and specify the corresponding unit of time measurement (Days, Weeks, Months, or Years). The default value is 2 Weeks.

 

The Related Offers section lets you set up promotional offers that appear when a customer selects this product. Click Add New and then select the type of related offer you want to create.

  • Product Options are other products that appear below this subscription product as additional offers or alternative products. Product options can present single-choice additional items or multiple-choice additional items. These are similar to cross-sells and upsells, but appear in a more compact format.

     Note

    Web Storefronts have full support for product options. If you use a Popup Storefront, product options can appear in the optional cart page. However, the popup cart only supports product options that you have configured as multiple-choice options at this time.
     
  • Product Offers can be cross-sells or upsells. A cross-sell offer appears during the purchase process and encourages the customer to add additional related products to the order. By contrast, an upsell offer encourages the customer to replace the product currently in the cart with a more expensive one. Cross-sells and upsells can be shown in various locations on the page, depending on Storefront settings. The product icon, display name/product title, product summary, price, and any applicable discount appear in the offer.

     Note

    Web Storefronts have full support for product offers. Popup Storefronts support cross-sells in the optional cart page. However, upsells are not supported at this time.
     

 

The Advanced section lets you configure advanced options for the selected product. Click Edit to open the Edit Advanced Details dialog, and modify any of these properties.

  • SKU - Optionally enter an internal SKU ID or part number. The only purpose of this field is for identifying the subscription product using your own system (e.g., using your own part number).
  • Long Description - This field lets you provide additional text about the subscription-based product in each 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 appear in a Lightbox that overlays the Product Page. Note:  This field accepts markdown.
  • EDS - The optional Extended Download Service (EDS) is enabled at the Store level. If it is enabled for your Store, then it is enabled by default for all products and subscriptions that have at least one file download fulfillment action. If the subscription does not have a download, this field does not appear. Similarly, if EDS is not enabled for your account, this field does not appear. If you want to disable EDS for this subscription only, click the EDS field label. A popup window appears, where you can clear the checkbox 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, is labeled Add. The Call to Action field lets you provide an alternative button label in each supported language. This label also appears 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 appear next to this subscription on the Completion Page, following a successful order. It is essential to enter instructions or information here so that customers know what to do next, following a completed purchase. For example, this text may include a description of how to download the software or register using the license key. You can optionally click the language drop-down and enter the information or instructions in each desired language. Note:  This field accepts markdown.

Using the Options button at the top right-hand corner of the product detail page, you can access additional functions related to the selected subscription product.

  • Create Variations, which inherit the settings of their parent product but let you override individual settings as needed. The initial product is the "parent product," and the variations you create for that product are "child products." One example of using product variations is to test product discounts or for holiday-related offers. As another example, you can create a discounted product variation that can be offered as a cross-sell for a different product, to motivate customers to add additional items to their purchase.

     Note

    Only one variation of any given product can be purchased in a single order. For example, if product A has variations A1 and A2, customers can purchase any of the three, but they could not purchase A and A1 in the same transaction, nor A1 and A2. For products to be included in the same order together, they must each be a separate product (not multiple product variations of the same product).
     
  • Add Custom Attributes to the product. Attributes can be useful if you would like to pass additional information about the product that is invisible to the customer. Attributes do not appear in any reporting, but certain webhook events and responses to FastSpring API requests include them. (In addition to specifying custom attributes here, they can also be set or overridden for each purchase via the Store Builder Library or the FastSpring API.)

     Note

    The sum of the number of characters entered for the Key and the Value of product attributes cannot exceed approximately 4,000.
     

 

When you want to find URLs for the selected product's product page in any Storefront, including testing URLs, click  at the top right-hand corner of the page.

The Checkout Links dialog provides a variety of ways to link to the product, including the option to view the product in a Popup Storefront.

For more details, please see Linking to Product Pages.

 

To Delete a Subscription

Warning:  Deleting a subscription product record is permanent and cannot be reversed. Customers' existing subscription instances are not affected, but no new subscriptions can be created using a deleted product, and the product will no longer appear in the FastSpring App or in API responses. Use caution when deleting a product.

  1. From the Subscriptions tab of the Products menu, click the tile of the subscription product you want to delete.
  2. On the subscription detail page, click the Options button at the top right-hand corner of the page and select Delete.
  3. Click OK when prompted to confirm that you want to delete the subscription.

 

To Access Subscription Product Variations

If you create product variations, you can access them via the drop-down selector at the top left-hand corner of the parent product's details page.  The selector only appears if the subscription product has one or more variations. Click the selector and then choose the variation you want to view or edit, or click Show All.

If you select Show All, the product detail page displays a separate section for each product variation, below the Advanced section of the parent product's details.

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