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Matt
 

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.

Front-subscriptions.thumb.jpg.6ce76dcc29f9ccbdace522e2483b0b1a.jpg

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.

Front-upgrade.thumb.jpg.cecac51c6062adcd332d99b5dec38d89.jpg

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.

Front-user-menu.thumb.jpg.fed49cdef53f724d9b1619684e68c590.jpg

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.

Profile-badge.thumb.jpg.ac64c4a78718e6c05ca21b55d20387d9.jpg

 

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.

Widget.thumb.jpg.04766f3435726706feb248c9bb2ec479.jpg

 

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.

ACP-Packages.thumb.jpg.9824eae5f230d629991d3f27d1070653.jpg

 

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

ACP-Subscribers.thumb.jpg.a15c11f8fc8acf7f3ff967be494db162.jpg

 

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.

ACP-Add-member.thumb.jpg.1b5f8f3ec88963e866a53d65cfb80732.jpg

 

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.

ACP-Form.thumb.jpg.678d420cf2310882eed95223d4fbb2e6.jpg

 

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

ACP-Settings.thumb.jpg.3422e642c330199a57324a89fc331f64.jpg

 

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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Great, glad to see this is getting more attention!  

Will there be an upgrade path for those of us using IP.Nexus to manage subscriptions when we upgrade our 3.4.x forum to 4.3?  Which is something I plan on doing once 4.3 has been released. 

Thanks, 

 ..Al

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Nice to see you started to improve Commerce, however, still do not see something I was requesting for years already - ability to adjust price after purchase basing on custom field value.

This is kind of a 'must be' feature for subscriptions. E.g. you make purchase of subscription of specified product, and later you may only increase count of licenses (using purchase custom field value) for that specified product (subscription) instead purchasing new copy of product (subscription) over and over. It looks more smooth for admin and customer. Ability to charge after purchase basing on change of value of purchase custom fields, opens a wide ability to manage products and subscription.

I honestly wonder why it is not yet there. Anyway, thanks for your work, hope to see such feature in near future, finally.

Edited by DavidAM

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So if you had a subscription premiere level once they subscribe it could allow them to be put into a group where they could create an advertisement, as that group would be allowed to place ads. Would the ad be canceled if they cancel subscription and or downgraded?

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Amazing stuff. This is the feature I'm most excited about in 4.3.

Question:

How will we be able to deal with people who are currently paying renewals using the old method. Is there an easy way to change a "Normal Product " to a "Subscription"?

 

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7 minutes ago, Tom S. said:

How will we be able to deal with people who are currently paying renewals using the old method. Is there an easy way to change a "Normal Product " to a "Subscription"?

Pretty sure you don’t have to do that and it’s all automatic. 

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59 minutes ago, DavidAM said:

This is kind of a 'must be' feature for subscriptions. E.g. you make purchase of subscription of specified product, and later you may only increase count of licenses (using purchase custom field value) for that specified product (subscription) instead purchasing new copy of product (subscription) over and over. It looks more smooth for admin and customer. Ability to charge after purchase basing on change of value of purchase custom fields, opens a wide ability to manage products and subscription.

I'm confused.

 

Quote

we've brought our Gallery and Blog apps bang up to date

"bang" up to date?  Is that intentional?

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49 minutes ago, Ocean West said:

So if you had a subscription premiere level once they subscribe it could allow them to be put into a group where they could create an advertisement, as that group would be allowed to place ads. Would the ad be canceled if they cancel subscription and or downgraded?

Exactly this.

27 minutes ago, Tom S. said:

Amazing stuff. This is the feature I'm most excited about in 4.3.

Question:

How will we be able to deal with people who are currently paying renewals using the old method. Is there an easy way to change a "Normal Product " to a "Subscription"?

 

Yes, my aim is to offer an upgrader option to switch to the subs manager.

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29 minutes ago, Aaron M said:

Will the stocks be configurable on a per-product basis to restock the relevant product should a customer decide to not renew?

There is no concept of stock for the subscriptions manager. 

Commerce products can be limited by stock if you need they feature. 

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1 hour ago, Matt said:

There is no concept of stock for the subscriptions manager. 

Commerce products can be limited by stock if you need they feature. 

True, but equally Commerce doesn't support having a "pool" of stock that automatically becomes available as uptake fluctuates.

Similarly, I'm surprised there's no stock here - seems a bit of a hassle to have to go through the hoops if one wishes to offer a limited number of subs, for instance an "earlybird" style, or for higher tiers.

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16 hours ago, AtariAge said:

Great, glad to see this is getting more attention!  

Will there be an upgrade path for those of us using IP.Nexus to manage subscriptions when we upgrade our 3.4.x forum to 4.3?  Which is something I plan on doing once 4.3 has been released. 

Thanks, 

 ..Al

Um. We might be able to do something. We haven’t done anything with 3.x for a while. I can take a look. 

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Awesome!

REALLY great!

A great simple feature addressing a very common use of nowadays.

This is – for now :) – the most exciting 4.3 feature!

Maybe the ability to give multiple reputation points to reactions will beat that :ph34r:

Thank you! :wub:

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4 hours ago, Matt said:

Um. We might be able to do something. We haven’t done anything with 3.x for a while. I can take a look. 

That would be greatly appreciated, thank you. The main reason I haven't upgraded yet is I was waiting for a solution to the lack of third-party search support, which has now been rectified in 4.3.  :) 

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I am hoping that discounts can be provided for downloads purchases based on which member group someone is in. Thus the subscription will be a VIP group that gets discounts (X% off) on everything.

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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.

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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?

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4 hours ago, The Old Man said:

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.

All product types have one thing in common: selling something. (And as a result: payment providers, tax settings and so on.) 
To rip that apart again and offer it in parts makes as much sense to me as offer linear forums and Q&A forums separately. 

And as a user of Commerce, the parts that don’t interest me don’t make it odd or bloated at all. The hosting packages for example are nothing but a single ACP link I can ignore. 

Edited by opentype

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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

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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"?

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