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4.3: Commerce Subscription Manager

We've recently spoken about how we've brought our Gallery and Blog apps up to date with interface overhauls to bring them inline with the high standards our customers expect.

Keeping this in mind, we're thrilled to announce that we've taken Commerce right back to 2009.

This needs an explanation.

Way back in 2009, Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President. Minecraft was put into beta, Slumdog Millionaire was released to critical praise and we had a product called IP.Subscriptions.

IP.Subscriptions was a lightweight member subscriptions manager that allowed members to purchase elevated permissions via a user group upgrade.

It was a fine little app. However, on the horizon we had a brand new eCommerce app in development. Then called Nexus, now called Commerce (we took months to come up with that).

It made sense for us to merge the products into one app given they both had overlapping functionality. They both could create packages to promote members to a new user group. Commerce was much more developed as an invoicing and billing system.

Everyone was happy.

Almost.

Commerce has grown to be an incredibly powerful app. It can sell anything from physical products like t-shirts, to digital products such as license keys and it can even manage your hosting set-up.

We use it for our support and billing systems, so we know how robust it is.

While it's an incredibly powerful commerce system, setting up basic subscriptions packages became a little more complex.

Over the past few years we've received a lot of feedback on this.

We've listened.

Commerce Member Subscriptions
We've built a brand new section into Commerce specifically for membership subscriptions.

Let's take a look at this in more detail.

On the front end, there's a very clear and easy to understand page for membership subscriptions.

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The main subscriptions interface

Here you can see all the available packages, which one you're currently subscribed to and the upgrade and downgrade options.

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A simple way to upgrade

There's several choices for costing upgrades in the Admin CP, here we have chosen to charge the difference between packages.

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Get to your subscriptions easily

Your subscriptions are easily found in the user menu.

If the Admin allows, the package you're subscribed to appears as a badge on your profile.

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There's also a little widget showing the packages which you can drag and drop to the sidebar for an additional prompt for non-subscribers.

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This gives Invision Community a very clear and easy to understand interface for subscriptions which lives outside of the Commerce store and its packages.

Now, let's dive into the Admin CP
The main engine for this feature is the package list. This is in a separate area within Commerce.

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The list also shows the number of currently active and inactive subscribers. This links to the list of subscribers.

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Other than Bob having a total nightmare, you can easily view which members are currently active. The buttons link you to the Commerce invoice and purchase.

If you wish to add a member to a subscription without charging them (you generous soul, you), then that is easily possible.

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Creating a new subscription package is very straight forward. We've built a new form which is stripped down to the fundamental items you'll need for a subscription.

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As you would expect, there are several settings to control the system.

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A few things worth mentioning here:

  • You can force new members to purchase a subscription on sign-up
  • You can show or hide the profile badge indicating which package they purchased.
  • You can choose to allow upgrades or downgrades.
  • You can choose how you'd like to charge for upgrades or downgrades

Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback over the years. We're really pleased to present this new feature and hope that it'll make your daily lives just a little easier.

Let us know what you think!

 

Edited by Matt

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On 18/02/2018 at 3:25 AM, sbr said:

Hi @Matt!

A big issue now is that users signed up with Paypal and Stripe (and probably other methods) have different ways of canceling their subscription.

Paypal users have to go to (by default) Store -> My Details -> Billing Agreements -> View Details -> Cancel

While Stripe users go to Store -> Manage Purchases -> Manage -> Cancel Renewals

This inconsistency is causing a lot of confusion when you have thousands of users. I know they are technically different, but for the users there should be a uniform way of managing this.

Customizing the menus is an option, but it will never give you the end-user experience you'd like. There should be a very obvious option for the users where they either cancel or suspend (if possible) their subscription regardless of payment method.

You can cancel renewals from the front end, just visit the purchase.

20 hours ago, Netherlord said:

Now this was something I keep meaning to ask about but I see you addressed it :) wohoo!

Thanks!

19 hours ago, The Old Man said:

This is great, thanks IPS. I'll be buying Commerce soon for the subscriptions.

I still think having the 'one size fits all' approach with Commerce makes it a bit bloated. It must see odd to some how it covers hosting packages for example. Similarly, the physical goods and server hosting aspects are probably overkill for anyone wanting to facilitate ad management, or simple member subscriptions or paid downloads.

Wouldn't it be better and more flexible to have these variations as modular add-ons (you pick your preferred initial module from server hosting, physical goods or subscriptions when buying let's call it Core Commerce) and then having the extra optional paid bolt-ons that admins could add if needed in the future? Similar model to how IPS 4 brought us Core/Calendar and forum, cms, gallery, downloads and blogs. IPS and modding community could then create addition bolt-ons for various needs.

Re the hosting management, how does that tie in with creating CPanel accounts in WHM and WHMCS and eNom Domain reseller management? Is it a complete alternative or do you still need WHM and WHMCS, eNom?

As mentioned just below your reply, they all share a common framework of tax, invoicing, purchases and so on. It wouldn't make a lot of sense to break that up without moving all the core billing into the core framework, which is a major rewrite. You can shut off modules you don't want to see, so you can just shut off the hosting section if you wanted to.

13 hours ago, cristian romero garcia said:

My most respect and congratulations for your achievements never seen in any other company or forum company.

I have with you since 2013 I will never change great support for a large number of plugins and applications that make it unique.

A big hug from the most frodundo of Spain for the invision power team

Big hugs accepted! Thanks Cristian, I appreciate your kind words.

10 hours ago, liquidfractal said:

Once again, thanks to the folks at Invision for a great (and for me, extremely timely!) addition to the suite!

I assume this can be handled in the Translate function for my language easily enough, but: can I change the wording in the user badges from "subscriber" to something like "client"?

Yes of course, it's all translatable. :)

7 hours ago, liquidfractal said:

Oh, and one other thing - I assume that existing Commerce tools like coupons can also apply to subscription purchases and renewals?

Yes, once the subscription has been put into an invoice, the usual Commerce tools take over.

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So, I was forced to upgrade to Commerce and it has been working fine now for subscriptions for awhile  now.  How will the upgrade process work? The last thing I need is to have what's been working now through Commerce get all screwed up due to this "upgrade."  Thanks.

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4 hours ago, Matt said:

As mentioned just below your reply, they all share a common framework of tax, invoicing, purchases and so on. It wouldn't make a lot of sense to break that up without moving all the core billing into the core framework, which is a major rewrite. You can shut off modules you don't want to see, so you can just shut off the hosting section if you wanted to.

Thanks Matt, I understand. I didn't realise you can shut off irrelevant sections. 

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1 hour ago, jucs said:

So, I was forced to upgrade to Commerce and it has been working fine now for subscriptions for awhile  now.  How will the upgrade process work? The last thing I need is to have what's been working now through Commerce get all screwed up due to this "upgrade."  Thanks.

My aim is to have an optional step on the upgrade where you can specify a conversion, but it will not be a requirement.

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2 hours ago, Matt said:

My aim is to have an optional step on the upgrade where you can specify a conversion, but it will not be a requirement.

Yes hopefully something to upgrade existing "products" currently used to sell subscriptions to the new format will be available on upgrade. If not, maybe some sort of tutorial. 

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I am so disappointed that a simple feature I've been requesting since IP.Subscriptions/Nexus/Commerce is not included in this upgrade.  Again.

IPB has always assumed subscriptions need to be on a rolling calendar basis.  I totally understand there are a large number of communities that use that method.  However, an equal number of communities would love to have subscriptions expire on a set calendar date, configurable in the package.  My membership year is not on a rolling basis and and settinga hard expiration date in each transaction is very time-consuming. 

It's one additional setting in the renewal options to set an expiration date for the package.  That's it.  How hard can this be?  What is the rationale for not including it?

 

Edited by ptrader
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13 minutes ago, ptrader said:

I am so disappointed that a simple feature I've been requesting since IP.Subscriptions/Nexus/Commerce is not included in this upgrade.  Again.

IPB has always assumed subscriptions need to be on a rolling calendar basis.  I totally understand there are a large number of communities that use that method.  However, an equal number of communities would love to have subscriptions expire on a set calendar date, configurable in the package.  My membership year is not on a rolling basis and and settinga hard expiration date in each transaction is very time-consuming. 

It's one additional setting in the renewal options to set an expiration date for the package.  That's it.  How hard can this be?  What is the rationale for not including it?

 

Totally agree, my subscription year ends 31st March each year. Many real associations and clubs do it this way. I have people joining throughout the year and I constantly have to manually edit their invoices.

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Fantastic!

Would be nice if, based on a member's subscription or Member Group, a shipping method would only show up for premium members.  EG: Offering Free or Discounted shipping on members of a certain Member Group or Subscription Package.

Thanks

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21 hours ago, Matt said:

My aim is to have an optional step on the upgrade where you can specify a conversion, but it will not be a requirement.

Ok....but...without knowing exactly what switches to what then it becomes a search and scratch of the head to figure out what occurred during the conversion.  Let alone what maybe got screwed up in the process.  :(  

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Hm not a single word about all the issues people have with the current commerce system. Specifically I am talking about the not recognized recurring payments. Roughly 1% of all our recurring payments from PayPal won't be recognized by Commerce for several reasons (sometimes because the recurring payment comes late, sometimes it is in time but it still won't be recognized).

This requires manual action and therefore costs us a lot support effort every day, which is very annoying.

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1 hour ago, inkredible said:

Hm not a single word about all the issues people have with the current commerce system. Specifically I am talking about the not recognized recurring payments. Roughly 1% of all our recurring payments from PayPal won't be recognized by Commerce for several reasons (sometimes because the recurring payment comes late, sometimes it is in time but it still won't be recognized).

This requires manual action and therefore costs us a lot support effort every day, which is very annoying.

PayPal still tell us they are "aware of these issues".

 

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On 20/02/2018 at 11:03 AM, jucs said:

Ok....but...without knowing exactly what switches to what then it becomes a search and scratch of the head to figure out what occurred during the conversion.  Let alone what maybe got screwed up in the process.  :(  

I added it as a product option in the ACP.

Convert to a subscriptions package 2018-02-23 10-51-35.jpg

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On 22.2.2018 at 1:12 PM, Mark said:

PayPal still tell us they are "aware of these issues".

 

Some support tickets ago I was told that this is happening because of the way it is programmed. For instance you stop checking for the recurring payments once the invoice is overdue for 3 days or so. But it's common that a recurring payment is executed 10 days after the payment was due (for instance because of lacking funds). This beside other reasons is causing issues which are definetely not PayPal's fault.

I am actually using other software (bookkeeping software) which has absolutely no issues with PayPal subscriptions.

Also see the following tickets where I've reported these issues in detail (months ago) and where I was told that the commerce software will be completely rewritten in 4.3:

#992985

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Personally. I got IPB years ago before we lost our subscriptions. It was a big part of my forums. For a long time now, you want us to pay just to have that...and 4.3 isn't looking any better in that aspect. I don't want to sell all linds of things.

Subscriptions was taken away from us a while back and we should not have to buy something we don't need like Commerce to have it. VB and Xenforo both include subscriptions with the base forum script. Alwas did. Just like IPB used to.

Why can't you give us back what we paid for long ago by just including subscriptions in the base client?

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3 minutes ago, asigno said:

Is it possible for the register link to go directly to the subscriptions page?

No, it can’t be customized. But you can have subscriptions show directly while registering. 

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It'd be great if there was a way to feature a subscription e.g "Most Popular", especially as users like to be 'nudged' on what to select, and to have the ability for a free subscription which bypasses the cart pages and uses the regular sign up form.

Also to have the ability to add HTML to the description rather than plain text. This way we could build package tables for users to easily identify the differences between the subscription models.

All the div containers are labeled as class="cSubscriptionGrid ipsGrid_span4" it'd be good if we could have unique IDs on these so we could style individually with CSS.

Edited by asigno
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Also just realised on the old subscription page, if you forced users to see it as part of the registration there is a link in the footer which says "No thanks, continue without purchasing"

This has been removed from the 4.3 version, please can this be added back in, unless you can add a free subscription.

Edited by asigno
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@Matt RE: Convert to a subscriptions package 

I have already went thru the lengths to create a new "Gold Subscription" but realized I have a old Product that should be converted - is there a way to target an existing Subscription vs converting and creating a new one, I would have to have two identical subscriptions with users in both?!

 

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I think this was addressed above, sort of for annual renewals on a fiscal calendar basis.  It seems to me that Commerce, and now Subscriptions offers only two options: 1) Renew on a set number of days/months/years, or 2) Perpetual.  What happened to static?  Where a subscription is only good for 7 days, one month, or one year?  The Subscriptions 3rd Party app prior to Nexus handled this quite well.

I would like to respectfully request (beg) that expiration be added apart from renewal. It would not be inconceivable or uncommon that an offering of a 30-day (or whatever) recurring and non-recurring membership be offered.

I'm not sure what I am asking for is the solution for the fiscal year problem of clubs and organizations, but a subscription certainly needs a static expiration date, with or without a renewal.

Thanks!

 

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