Purchasing multiple subscriptions at once

vossavantvossavant Member
in Help edited February 2012
Hi FoxyCart,

I have a client who is interested in running her site like this:
  • People buy "credits" on the site, which are then used to list items on the site (1 credit = 1 item)
  • Each item should be manageable separately; that is, customers should be able to adjust billing info and billing frequency for each item

To remove the conceptual piece: it's a site where people can list properties for rent. You buy credits, then turn those credits into listings.

My thought was to treat each credit as a separate subscription. I'd then have to do some coding wizardry to get the website we're building to tie a property listing to a specific subscription, so customers can edit each property (billing info, frequency, etc.) separately.

I have 2 questions related to this setup:
  • Is it possible to process multiple subscriptions like this in a single checkout? I assume so and that FoxyCart would just treat each subscription as starting at the same time and having the same frequency.
  • Is there any reason I couldn't relate data in my website (an individual property listing) with a FoxyCart subscription? I assume I could use the transaction ID from the datafeed or some other unique identifier to do this.

Thanks for your time and feedback.
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Comments
  • sparkwebsparkweb Member, Integration Developer, FoxyShop, Order Desk
    I recently discovered that if you have multiple subscription items in your cart that have the same subscription settings (start date, end date, frequency) they'll be lumped together into one subscription but if you have different settings, they'll be split out into separate subscriptions. Maybe the Foxy guys have an idea on how to avoid this. (One thought I had was that you could simply force checkout for each item.)

    I think you definitely relate the data from a subscription to your system. You could either pass your system's ID in as a product detail or you could go the other way and put the subscription key into your system to match it up.
  • lancelance Member, Community Support Member
    Hi @vossavant -

    I had a thought about this. When credits are purchased, are they always automatically redeemed? If so, then the subscription model with each subscription tied to a listing seems to make sense. If, on the other hand, credits could be purchased now and then redeemed later, it probably makes more sense to sell the credits as a straight product and manage all of the redemption on the client's end. If you want to sell auto-renewing credits, you can still do that as a subscription, but customers have the added benefit of being able to not only auto-renew credits, but also redeem them as they please.

    Lance
  • vossavantvossavant Member
    edited February 2012
    @sparkweb,

    Thanks for your input. That's interesting about the subscriptions; I'd be interested to get FoxyCart feedback on that as well.

    @ lance,

    Credits can be purchased and then redeemed at any time, and I imagine many customers will purchase more credits than they need and redeem them in the future. How would I treat credits as a straight product and then have them auto renew like a subscription? I looked in the examples and it appears you can do recurring orders. I've never done this before; is it just like a subscription?
  • lukeluke FoxyCart Team
    edited February 2012
    As for as multiple subs go, they will be split off if either the start date, end date or frequency are different. Or, if the product itself is different. That's probably the direction you'd want to go by including some kind of unique identifier as a product option.

    Edit: Sorry, that's confusing and somewhat incorrect. The product details being different will split it out as a separate line item, but it will still be on the same subscription based on the start date, end date and frequency. You may want to use empty=true and quantity_max=1 to ensure they can only buy one product at a time (which will create multiple, distinct subscriptions). Import to note, however, that we only allow one payment card per customer. So if they change the card for one subscription, they are changing it for all subscriptions attached to that same billing email address.
    ::End Edit::

    As for the "credits" idea and redeeming them, that sounds a bit like a voucher redemption system. Is that something you'll be building on your end?
  • Any redemption of credits would be built on our end. The thing I want to be clear on is: can we let the customer purchase credits (as products) and have them auto-billed for each credit? It sounds like we *need* to treat credits as unique products (vs. subscriptions) in order for the customer to manage billing info and frequency separately for each one.

    I'm also unsure if it makes more sense to treat the credits like renewable products or like subscriptions. They'd be purchasing a lump of credits in one transaction, so the start date, end date, and frequency would all be the same (if treated as a subscription).
  • fc_adamfc_adam FoxyCart Team
    Could you explain how you want the listings to work from a customer perspective? So they purchase a credit, which gives them a single listing - do they then need to continue to pay at a regular interval of their choosing to maintain that listing? If that's the case you'd want to use subscriptions.
  • Hi Adam,

    The idea is that customers can purchase one or more credits at once and choose whether they want to buy them for a month (recurring) or year (recurring). It's like stock photo credits, except these credits don't expire and the customer is billed each month or year for the number of credits he's purchased.

    Buying a credit entitles you to a listing. Think of it as paying for a parking space: you can park any kind of car in the space (or none at all). Similarly, you can list any property you want, or none at all. You choose whether you want to buy the space for a month or for a year, and you're billed automatically for the space when your term is up. You can buy as many spaces as you want. (end analogy)

    My initial thought was to treat the credits as subscriptions, but it got complicated when my client asked if we could let the customer buy more than one credit at a time, but still treat each credit separately. The reason: if one property is doing well, the customer might want to renew for a longer term. Or maybe the customer just wants to use different cards for different property listings.

    Sounds like I want to use subscriptions, but from what I gather (see @sparkweb's comment above), adding multiple subs to the cart at once lumps them into a single sub. Is that right? Would I need to differentiate them somehow?
  • sparkwebsparkweb Member, Integration Developer, FoxyShop, Order Desk
    Well based on what @luke said, I think you'd have to differentiate them by name and then you should be okay.
  • fc_adamfc_adam FoxyCart Team
    If any part of the product is unique, then it won't be lumped together. That could be the name, price, sub settings like frequency or start/end dates, or it could be a custom parameter of whatever you want. As long as something is different the products will be separate.
  • Awesome, thanks guys. I'd rather be a bit dumb here than dumb later. I appreciate everyone's input.
  • lukeluke FoxyCart Team
    Maybe I just confused things worse... but if the start date, frequency and end date are the same for the same customer for a single transaction, they WILL be grouped together in the same subscription. If you change the product details, they will be broken out into separate line items, but they will still be part of the same subscription. Yeah, I think screwed that up. I just edited my comment above and added some more details.
  • Luke,

    Thanks for clarifying. It sounds like a credit redemption system won't work as hoped here since:
    • The customer can only have one credit card on file, so he wouldn't be able to later change billing info for just one of the subs
    • The customer wouldn't be able to treat credits as separate subs unless he checked out multiple times (e.g., if he wanted to buy 5 credits, he'd have to check out 5 times)

    Is that right?
  • lukeluke FoxyCart Team
    I'm still not sure I fully understand what you're trying to accomplish, but it sounds a bit like the voucher part of this request: http://requests.foxycart.com/forums/4162-general-requests/suggestions/34440-gift-certs-vouchers

    Since you already said you're redeeming the credits, maybe it makes sense to completely disconnect the redemption side of things from the credit purchase side of things (and thus the payment type used per property, etc).

    Example: Why not just say the customer has a "bank account" of credits. They can sign up for the 50 credits a month or 30 credits a month plan. You setup a foxycart subscription and bill them accordingly, along with an integration on your end via the API to manipulate their subscription if needed to adjust their regular allotment of credits. Once their "bank account" is full, they can use those credits for however they want. If they list one property or ten, it's up to them, as long as their account has credits to use. Then you can control when they start or stop a new listing on your end based on their preference and how many credits they have. You would have to mange any reminder emails and such if their credit balance was going lower than their monthly increase of credits was covering.

    Does that make sense? I may still be missing you. The point being, if they are buying "credits", not individual listings on your site, you can build things out as needed. By decoupling them, you have more flexibility to manage the "subscription" side of their listings completely within your system. The XML Datafeed will keep your system up to date on their current balance of credits based on the FoxyCart subscription. Your system would then remove credits as needed for each period their listing is up (or if they add new listings).

    Does that sound right?
  • vossavantvossavant Member
    edited February 2012
    Hey Luke,

    Thanks for the response. I completely understand you. In fact, what you suggest is close to how I envisioned the whole thing working from square one, but the client wanted to see if it was possible to go even further and let people manage each credit separately. The only difference from what you suggest above is that, instead of increasing the amount of credits each month, the customer would be paying to maintain a fixed level of credits. I.e., the credits wouldn't roll over month to month.

    I think what you suggest makes the most sense, so I'll see if the client is OK with this.

    Thanks!!
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