Know what’s better than getting paid once for something? Getting paid for it over and over again! If you offer subscriptions, license software or collect donations, you might need to know how to set up recurring billing in your store. This way, you don’t have to remember to send your customers a bill each month. We’ll show you how.
Subscriptions and Other Recurring Billing Products
This section is intended for merchants already familiar with creating conventional products. You can find recurring billing setup features for any product that requires recurring billing, such as magazine subscriptions or periodic service contracts, on your product edit pages in the Advanced Info section, under the Recurring Pricing tab.
Below is an explanation of each field in the section.
Recurring Pricing Text
Descriptive text that explains the recurring pricing details (for example, "$9.99 for the first month, $11.99 each additional month"). Text added here appears below pricing information on the product page.
The normal recurring price a customer is charged every recurring payment period. Note that tax is not applied to recurring products after the initial purchase; if you need to collect tax with each recurring payment, you can build the additional amount into your recurring price. This is a required field when using recurring pricing.
Promotional Starting Price
An optional introductory price (for example, "$9.99 for the first month"). This price will only be charged for the number of months specified in the Starting Price Duration (in Months) field.
Recurring Frequency (in Months)
The frequency, in months, with which the customer will be billed. For example, enter "1" to bill the customer monthly, "6" to bill them every six months, or "12" to bill them annually. This is a required field when using recurring pricing.
Starting Price Duration (in Months)
If using a Promotional Starting Price, this field indicates the length of time (in months) this period lasts. After this time period, the system will start billing customers at the regular Recurring Price. Note that "1" is automatically added to any value you enter, in order to account for the initial purchase. If you only want the Promotional Starting Price to occur once, enter "0" in this field. Entering "5" in this field will result in the customer being charged the Promotional Starting Price a total of 6 times. For example, with a Promotional Starting Price of 1, a Starting Price Duration (in Months) of 5, and a Recurring Price of 5, the system will bill a customer $1 for the first six months and then will bill the customer $5 from the seventh month onward.
Recurring Duration (in Months)
The number of months a recurring billing process will last for this product. You can leave this field blank or enter a "0" to indicate an indefinite duration. In addition to these settings, you can define an additional setup cost for recurring pricing by entering it in the Price field in the Basic Product Info section. When a product uses recurring pricing, the Price field will be renamed Setup Cost on the storefront.
Note that recurring transactions do not alter the stock count of a product; only the initial transaction affects a product's stock.
You sell a monthly magazine that normally costs $7.99. For the first 6 months, however, you charge an introductory price of $5.99 per issue. You should configure the following:
1. Create the initial product and set the Price field to "0".
2. On the Advanced Info > Recurring Pricing tab:
In the Recurring Pricing Text field, enter "$5.99 for the first 6 months, $7.99 afterward".
Set Recurring Price to "7.99".
Set the Promotional Starting Price to "5.99".
Set the Recurring Frequency (in Months) value to "1".
Set the Starting Price Duration (in Months) value to "5".
Leave the Recurring Duration (Months) field blank.
3. Click Save.
Customers purchasing this product will be billed $5.99 a month for the first 6 months (during the initial purchase, and recurring for the next 5 months). After that they will be charged $7.99 every month.
Note that if you have a Promotional Starting Price, this will be displayed on the product page. The Recurring Price and Starting Price Duration (in Months) are not shown, so you should make sure this information is displayed in the Recurring Pricing Text and Description fields.
More information on processing orders with recurring pricing can be found in Recurring Billing.
Recurring Billing Access
To set up and manage your recurring billing features, go to Orders > Recurring Billing in your Admin Area.
The Filter drop-down menu allows you to display All, Due, and Declined recurring payments. From here, you can view information on all orders which have products set up for recurring payments, view the balances of recurring payments, and collect payments.
Note that recurring transactions do not alter the stock count of a product; only the initial transaction affects a product's stock.
The Recurring: Due table lists all payments currently due or overdue. From here, you can view a list of payments and process payments for products that have a recurring billing value. You can also view monthly and yearly recurring billing totals based on current and future recurring billing payments.
Each entry in the Recurring: Due table contains the following information:
A unique ID number automatically generated and assigned to each record in the Recurring Billing system. Note that this ID does not correspond to the order or product – it is simply a tracking number assigned to the Recurring Billing item.
Original Order ID
The ID of the order the product set for recurring billing was placed on. Clicking on this ID will take you to the order's details page.
Original Order Detail ID
An ID number associated with the order details page related to the order that generated the recurring payment record.
Billing First Name*
The first name of the customer who placed the order associated with the recurring payment.
Billing Last Name*
The last name of the customer who placed the order associated with the recurring payment.
The phone number of the customer who placed the order associated with the recurring payment.
The email address of the customer who placed the order associated with the recurring payment.
The customer ID of the customer who placed the order associated with the recurring payment.
The payment type that was applied to the initial payment and will be applied to each additional payment.
The due date of the next recurring payment.
The order detail ID for the order the product set to use recurring billing options was placed on.
If you have any notes for a recurring billing record, enter them here.
The initial start date of the recurring payment (mm/dd/yyyy).
The date the recurring billing option will end (if applicable). If the product was configured to bill customers indefinitely, this field will be empty.
A value can be set in this field to configure the frequency at which the payment will reoccur. This value will represent the number of months that will lapse before the next billing due date. For example, entering 6 into this field will configure the recurring billing record to require payment every six months after the initial stating date.
This field shows the date (mm/dd/yyyy) on which the most recent recurring billing cycle began and payment was due. It does not necessarily correspond to the date when payment was actually made.
Delay Charge Until
This field can be used to delay the recurring billing charge to a later date. For example, to offer the first 12 months of a service for free, enter a date 12 months after the date in the Start Date field. Note that this field is automatically populated if a recurring payment is declined. The auto-populated date will be set to three days after the declined payment occurred.
This option will allow merchants to set a recurring billing record to be active or inactive. By default, newly generated orders for recurring billing products will be set as active.
*These fields are only available in the main table view, not the individual record settings.
Note that the settings available for each recurring billing record can be edited within each record's settings page. However, these fields will typically be set when a recurring billing product is ordered through your store.
Enabling Recurring Donations
If your store is set up to accept donations through an open-priced item, you can enable an additional setting to offer recurring donations.
Recurring donations perform the same way as recurring billing, except that the price for the donation product can generally be edited by customers so they can specify their donation amount.
To activate recurring billing for a donation-style product:
Go to Orders > Recurring Billing in your Admin Area.
Select Recurring: Due from the Filter menu and select View Recurring Payments Due Settings from the three-dot actions menu.
Select Enable Recurring Donations.
Viewing Future Recurring Payments
There is a Search Dates button above the Recurring: Due table that allows you to display recurring orders due on a specific future date.
It is important to note you cannot use this feature to collect recurring payments due on future dates. You can only collect recurring payments on orders with due dates on or before the current day of business.
Processing Recurring Payments
To collect recurring payments:
1. Go to Orders > Recurring Billing.
2. In the Recurring: Due filter, click Charge.
Here, you can define the number of payments you wish to collect.
Payments are collected in the order of the date their related order was opened within your store. For example, collecting 5 of 10 due payments will collect payments for the first 5 payments based on their starting dates.
Once this is done, all outstanding active payments due on or before the current day of business will be collected.
3. The page will reload with the list of all collected payment totals at the top of the page.
After collecting payments, all recurring billing records in the Recurring: Due table will be removed. These payment records can be reviewed within the Recurring: All filter.
Select Recurring: All from the Filter drop-down to list every instance of recurring billing.
This table provides a way of viewing (and, if necessary, adjusting) all recurring payment records (both active and inactive) in your store.
A field containing recurring payment totals will be located at the top of this page showing the total amount collected in recurring payments for the current month as well as the total over the course of the current year.
To view a record's details, click on its ID. Above the Details section, there is an additional area showing all Active recurring billing records associated with a customer.
This table and details pages show the same fields as shown above for Recurring: Due.
Recurring payments that you’ve attempted to collect and were declined will be listed in the Recurring: Declined view.
This table contains information identical to the Recurring: All or Recurring: Due page, but with no additional controls.
Recurring payments may have been declined due to a lack of funds on the credit account, the account being expired, etc. If there are declined payments that you need to collect, it is recommended that you contact the customer to inform them of the declined payment and, if possible, resolve the unpaid order.
Tips and Special Settings
Dealing With a Declined Recurring Payment
Occasionally, you may encounter a recurring payment that is declined when you attempt to collect funds for that payment. When a recurring payment record is declined, it will automatically be entered into the Recurring: Declined table.
Resolving a declined recurring payment is similar to addressing any declined payment from a customer.
Review the declined payment in the Recurring: Declined page.
Click on the OrderID for the related order to view the order's details page.
Note the payment applied to the order and contact the customer via phone or email.
Inform the customer about the declined payment and secure a new or updated form of credit payment to apply to the order.
Within the Payments section, select Credit Card from the Choose Payment drop-down, then click Apply New Payment.
Once the credit card information on file for the customer's order has been updated, go to Orders > Recurring Billing.
Click on the ID of the recurring payment record.
Set the Delay Charge Until field in the payment record to the following business day.
This will cause the recurring payment to appear in the Recurring: Due view on the following business day. You can then attempt to collect payment for this record again. Provided the updated payment information is correct, the overdue payment should be collected and the recurring billing will continue to be collected as normal.
Changing the Due Date of a Recurring Order
If you need to change the due date of a recurring order, the best solution is to edit the Start Date and Last Paid Date values on the recurring order.
Recurring Payments with PayPal and other Payment Services
Some payment services such as PayPal (Express, Standard and Pro), PayPal PayFlow Pro, Skrill, Realex, SagePay, and Bambora have their own built-in recurring billing functionality that supersedes Volusion's. Since the payment process takes place completely within the third-party payment service and therefore cannot be tracked by Volusion, recurring billing is not compatible with these services.
Note on Configuring Recurring Payments
Keep in mind that when configuring a product to use recurring billing, customers will automatically be billed for the period specified plus the initial billing period.
For example, to bill customers once a month for the course of a year, you should enter "11" into the Recurring Duration field and "1" into the Recurring How Often field. Customers will be charged the recurring price once a month for 11 months in addition to the initial charge.
Tax on Recurring Payments
Note that tax is only collected on the initial order for a recurring billing item; each recurring payment after the original transaction will be untaxed. If you need to charge tax for each billing cycle, you can include the desired tax amount as part of the item's recurring price.
In order to avoid charging customers twice the tax on their initial purchase, be sure to mark the item as non-taxable. To do so, go to Advanced Info on the product editing page and select the Pricing tab. From the Taxable Product drop-down, select N (No) and save.
Shipping Charges for Recurring Shipments
Note that physical shipping costs are only collected on the initial order for a recurring billing item (assuming that it has weight and that you aren't shipping for free); each recurring payment after the original transaction will not include shipping.
If you want to charge shipping for each billing cycle, you'll need to include the desired shipping amount as part of the item's recurring price.
Note on Recurring Payments and Credit Card Policies
If you offer products configured for recurring payments (e.g. magazine subscriptions), you should set the credit card storage policy option to "Never" (as in "never remove data from the system") and redefine the default value of days to keep credit card data to a value that will cover the length of time needed to bill their customers on a recurring basis (e.g. 9,999 days).
Go to Settings > Config Variables, click the Search button, enter "payment info" in the Name field and click Search. This will display the Payment Info Delete Event and Payment Info Max Days to Keep variables. Enter "Never" and "9999" in the Value fields and click Save.
By default, your store's credit storage database is purged of credit card data (usually on Authorize), preventing you from being able to collect recurring payments from customers.
Note that the recurring billing system does not require a CVV2 number for any payments made after the initial purchase. If you plan to use recurring billing, be sure that your payment gateway isn't set to require the CVV2 number for all transactions.
Electronic checks are not supported for Recurring Billing purposes.
Need more info? Head on over to "Payment Settings".