Any product can be sold as a subscription by adding a subscription purchase option to that product. When viewing an existing product or creating a new product, enable the Subscription pricing option to allow the product to be sold on a subscription through your storefront.

Once enabled, you have the ability to create individual subscription plans for the product. Each product can feature multiple subscription plans which can specify different fulfillment and billing cycles as well as have their own pricing.

The subscription Interval is composed of two inputs: the frequency and the cycle length. These together determine the subscription plan’s interval. For example, setting the frequency to 2 and the cycle length to months would create a subscription that bills and ships every two months.

Along with specifying the subscription interval and price, you can also set a trial period for the subscription. This allows new customers to effectively sign up for the subscription and receive the subscription fulfillment up until the end of the trial period without being charged. So, you could set the trial period to 30 days for customers to receive one month free before beginning to charge for the subscription plan.

Each subscription also features an optional description as well as the ability to have a limit specified. Use Limit to limit the number of subscription intervals that occur on the plan. By default this is set to unlimited, meaning the subscription will charge and fulfill indefinitely once a user has subscribed. Changing the Limit to 10 would force the subscription to end after the tenth interval had been charged and fulfilled.

Products in Swell can support both Standard and Subscription pricing options simultaneously.

By default, the subscription's billing and fulfillment intervals will be the same. When creating a subscription purchase option, you can also define the desired billing interval independently from the fulfillment interval. This is adjusted by selecting the Fulfill separately toggle. This allows you to create a subscription that bills annually and fulfills monthly.

Fulfillment intervals define the frequency of when the subscription sends customers the product, while the billing interval determines the frequency for which the customer is charged for the subscription itself. Each product subscription plan can have its own fulfillment and billing schedule.

For example, you could create a subscription that bills annually (Every 1 year) and fulfills orders monthly (Every 1 Month). The billing and order intervals can also have their own Limit specified.

To create a subscription for a customer from the dashboard, select New Subscription. From there, you'll set the subscription's details like the product and product options, the subscription interval, and customer information.

When creating a subscription, you also can add one-time product purchases or add other products to the invoice on a recurring basis. One-time products added to a subscription will be charged and fulfilled once, while additional recurring products will be charged and fulfilled on each billing cycle. Coupon codes can also be applied during creation. Subscription items can also be added to an existing order.

You can view and manage subscription orders under Subscriptions > All subscriptions.

  • The All subscriptions tab shows all of the subscriptions customers have ordered. This will be blank for Swell store owners who have yet to create a subscription.
  • The Active tab contains any subscriptions that are currently active and being fulfilled.
  • The Trial tab lists all users taking advantage of a trial period.
  • Canceled and Past due tabs show which subscriptions have been canceled or require payment.

When viewing a subscription with the dashboard, select Actions in the top-right to make changes to the subscription. From here, you can:

  • Edit plan: update the subscription plan the user has purchased
  • Add invoice items: add items to the order to be fulfilled once in addition to the subscription items.
  • Pause the subscription: temporarily pause the subscription plans billing and fulfillment for the customer (You can choose to skip a billing cycle or pause indefinitely—requires manually reactivating).
  • Cancel subscription: End the customer's subscription out-right.

Additionally, you can also update the customer's account information, apply discounts, and change shipping or payment information from within the subscription order.

All subscriptions feature an activity feed that tracks any updates or changes that are made to the subscription over time. This can be viewed on any subscription page by selecting the subscription in your dashboard

The subscription activity feed monitors various changes to a subscription, including:

  • Item updates or changes
  • Billing and Shipping information
  • Tracking and viewing of notifications
  • Order status
  • Shipping status
  • Payment status
  • Discounts added
  • Notes added

Notes left within the activity feed are only visible to Swell users and are not visible to the customer.

Customize your subscription pause and resume options by navigating to Settings > Subscriptions on the Swell dashboard. You can choose to enable Pause during trial, Pause when past due, Skip next interval, and/or Pause indefinitely. After adjusting these parameters, click Save changes.

Once you finalize your subscription's Pausing options, customers will be able to pause their active subscriptions from their accounts within the storefront.

To pause or resume a customer's subscription in the dashboard, navigate to the Subscriptions page in the dashboard. Paused subscriptions will be displayed in the Paused tab on the Subscriptions page. Select the subscription you wish to pause or resume and click Actions in the top right. Select Pause subscription or Resume subscription:

  • For Pause subscription, choose Pause indefinitely or Skip next cycle.
  • For Resume subscription, choose either Resume immediately or Resume on date and select the date for which to resume the subscription.
  • Click the Pause or Resume button to save your selection.

Create and manage customer notifications for subscriptions that can be configured for a variety of different subscription-related events.

Email notifications can be customized similarly to all notifications via the editor window. See our notification settings article for more information on customizing notifications.

There are several features to manage subscription notifications within your store. Swell includes customizable templated email notifications under Settings > Notifications for basic subscriptions actions such as:

  • Notifications for new subscriptions
  • Confirmations for subscriptions that are canceled, paused, or resumed.
  • Notices for upcoming card expirations

The dunning system assists in recovering failed payments by retrying a customer's payment methods in the event a payment fails. It also alerts the customer of their failed payment via email. Create and add steps to determine the behavior of each step of the dunning process under Settings > Subscriptions within the dashboard. Each step can be configured to retry the payment method, send an email to the user, or both.

On your dunning rules final step, you can specify similar options to the other steps regarding retrying the payment methods and sending email correspondence to the user. In addition to these configuration options, you have three additional actions that can be determined for the last step of the dunning system:

  • Mark as unpaid: marks the subscription as unpaid in the system, allowing you to follow up via webhook or otherwise. The subscription will remain active but will no longer send invoices or notifications.
  • Cancel subscription: cancels the subscription after the dunning flow has executed the final step, ending the subscription for the customer.
  • Do nothing: no additional action is taken, the dunning flow concludes with the last step and leaves the subscription entry as it is.

Subscriptions can be created in two distinct ways, and how a subscription is created determines its eligibility for discounts as each subscription creation method supports different discount types.

Subscriptions are created in the two following ways:

  1. Direct creation of a subscription. Read more
  2. Creating a subscription through the ordering process. Read more

When creating a subscription directly, only coupons (and custom discounts) are available for use. In this case, all discounts apply without exception.

Promotions are not available for directly created subscriptions

When a subscription is created through an order, discounts are inherited from that order to the subscription. All discounts are inherited, except for fixed discounts that apply to the entire order or shipment.

Any other discounts will be inherited such as:

  • Percentage discounts for the entire order or shipment
  • Percentage and fixed discounts for a specific product or category of products,
  • Any Buy X Get Y discounts, etc.

See discount types for more information.

For subscription orders, coupon discounts and promotions are applied.

If a coupon has a usage limit, then the limit is consumed only for the initial order (or subscription when created directly). Thus, only 1 unit of the limit is spent for the subscription. This works the same as for a regular order.

All subsequent orders and invoices that the subscription generates after the end of the period do not consume the coupon limit.

For example, if a coupon has a limit of 5 uses, and 1 is applied to the subscription order, the next four subscription renewals will not consume the coupon limit—it will remain unchanged unless applied to a different order altogether.

When a coupon has a discount limit for a subscription, the discounts are applied a limited number of times to the orders or invoices that the subscription generates.

Each subscription receives its own limit on the application of discount coupons. That is, for different subscriptions, this limit is separate (not common).

After the coupon discount application limit expires, all subsequent orders and invoices will be created without the coupon and its discounts (this will increase the price of the order and invoice back to its price before the discount was applied).

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