How to Sell Magazine Subscriptions on Shopify – Ultimate Guide

how to sell magazine subscriptions on shopify ultimate guide

Written by Adriana Pope

June 22, 2022

Do you want to sell a printed magazine subscription & are wondering how?

Then, you’ve come to the perfect spot!

In this article, we will explore how Ongoing Subscriptions can make selling your magazine possible repeatedly with automatic repeat payments and the ability to schedule exactly when the magazine gets shipped out to your customers. 

By the end of this guide, you’ll learn how to automate all the processes involved in having a magazine subscription.

🛑 Magazine Subscription Problem 

One of the most significant pain points is having a date you would like to mail out the magazine specific to your publishing date.

We understand that your magazine is seasonal and needs to be mailed out according to a schedule and not just based on when a customer subscribes.

But, for example, you don’t want the customer to randomly get mailed a magazine every three months because it’s not synced up to your publishing schedule.

🤔 Why Current Tools Don’t Work

The way a traditional quarterly subscription would work is the date the customer buys the product would determine their next delivery date.

If a customer purchased a subscription magazine on July 15, an order would automatically generate 3 months later on October 15th.

If my publication is on October 5th, this will cause fulfillment problems.

Now I have all these different customer orders coming through on different days of the month instead of on my publication date. Not a good scenario.

The above model might work well for a shop selling hair or food products, but it doesn’t make sense for a magazine subscription company.

A magazine subscription needs to work differently based on when the magazine is coming out, or a new issue is launching, and that’s precisely the type of feature Ongoing has created.

Magazine Subscription Solution 

Ongoing Subscriptions is a software company that has created a unique solution for magazine companies called “custom fulfillment schedule.” 

Another way to think of this is “custom delivery dates,” which allows the merchant to select specific dates for shipping out their magazine throughout the year.

Since it’s a prepaid yearly subscription, the customer is paying in advance for their shipments. 

The Ongoing subscription feature called “Custom Fulfilment Dates” is ideal for customers who already love your product or want to subscribe to your magazine for one year and see how it goes. Then, if they like it, they can keep going, and if they don’t like it, they can cancel it. 

🙌🏼 Magazine Subscription App on Shopify

Ongoing subscriptions is a subscription app created just for Shopify merchants, which makes it super optimized and integrated with checkout flow, orders, and payments.

We allow you to create a customized subscription flow for your magazine.

  • Ability to select the dates the magazine will ship out (these are called “fulfillment dates”) 
  • Choose how many shipments there are per year.
  • Collect payment from customers before sending out any products, which is excellent for having the money to pay for the printing process 
  • There are “buffer days,” which means before the customer is billed again a year from now, they receive an email notifying them about an auto-renewal will happen. They have the choice, of course, to opt out by canceling or pausing their customer portal.
  • Access to a customer portal where they can cancel or pause their magazine subscription 
  • Automatic recurring payments every year  
  • Choose “cut-off” days that allow your customers not to get two shipments too close together (for example, You have the option to space out shipments based on smart logic of when they first ordered )
  • Automatically generate orders based on the delivery dates you choose 

What if a customer doesn’t want to stay subscribed?

They will get access to a customer portal that they can access on their own to manage their subscription. If they don’t want to stay subscribed, they can cancel and what they will do is not automatically renew again at that one-year mark. So basically, the next billing date will not occur. However, they’ll continue to get the shipments they paid for, so the magazines will continue to be mailed to them until that one-year mark is reached, and then the subscription will stop.

If they pause their subscription, it will be a similar effect. The customer’s next billing date will not occur. However, they will continue to get all the magazines they prepaid for, so shipments will continue.

In terms of angry customers, we hope you never have to deal with those, but there is always the option on Shopify to offer a refund and prorate the amount. 

How do Orders work?

Orders will be created automatically for you and pop up in your Shopify orders area.

Ongoing will automatically create the orders based on your custom delivery dates for customers. 

The first subscription order is created immediately. Shopify requires immediate fulfillment for subscription orders. 

Say someone orders your magazine subscription today.  

An order would automatically get created for them. We recommend sending the customer the last issue that you have on hand. Sending customers a magazine issue right away helps keep them happy and lowers the amount of customer support emails you’ll get as a merchant asking you when the magazine is going to arrive. 

We recommend merchants selling magazine subscriptions set their “cut-off” days to 0, which means no issues will be skipped. 

Then the next shipment for the customer will be the custom delivery date you set.

This way, the customer will get magazines delivered to their door based on a schedule you create.

How do Orders appear?

Since the Custom Delivery Dates Subscription feature on Ongoing is a prepaid subscription, the way orders appear on Shopify is “accordion-style,” read more about that here.  

Shopify will create an original order, let’s say that’s order #103, and then all future orders are nestled under that order. They are easily findable by filtering the orders by unfulfilled and partially filled. 

In our example of the original order being #103, the following orders that year nestled within this might look something like this: #103a, #103b, #103c. Pretty easy to get used to once you do it once. 

How do Payments work?

Payments are handled automatically by Ongoing so that we will accept the payment for your shop, and you will get paid like you usually would, like any other product. 

Since the Custom Delivery Date feature for the magazine is a prepaid yearly subscription, the customer will pay for the whole year.

Then 12 months later, they’ll get automatically charged again.  

However, ten days before getting charged, they’ll receive an email notifying them that the subscription will auto-renew.

The email will have a link to the customer portal so they can opt-out if they’d like.

What payment gateway can I use to sell magazine subscriptions on Shopify?

To be eligible to sell subscription products on Shopify, you must use an approved payment gateway such as Stripe, Shopify Payments,, or Paypal Express.

 These payment gateways will be the ones to process the payments along with Shopify using encryption, and vaulted credit cards, so Ongoing never has access to the actual credit card details.

Ongoing is the brain and muscle behind triggering automatic recurring billing for magazine subscriptions. 

How will the subscription product look?

Ongoing will power your product with the Custom Delivery Dates feature, so all you have to do is create and pick the product you want this to apply to.

The product could mention a yearly subscription in the product title for a magazine subscription, but it doesn’t have to.

A clear product title and description will help communicate to the customer what they will be purchasing. 

As a merchant, you have complete control over how your subscription product will look, and we offer free design changes to match your theme. 

The fundamental mechanics and heavy lifting will happen behind the scenes, so customers will see an “add to cart” button on the product page, and we can power that product with recurring billing.

You can also choose to display the subscription plan if you’d like. It’s totally up to you.

The customer will see the subscription plan name listed on the cart page, which can also be customized.

The customer will agree to a subscription payment on the checkout page and see a recurring total.

How does the customer portal work?

✅ Ongoing automatically creates a Subscriber Portal for your shop

✅ After a purchase, Ongoing sends an automatic email with a link to the Subscriber Portal

✅ After a purchase, Ongoing automatically displays a link to the Subscriber Portal on the Thank You page

✅ Your subscribers can make changes to their orders in the Subscriber Portal

✅ For customers who have an account with your shop, the Subscriber Portal can be displayed there too!

When a customer buys a magazine subscription, they will get access to a customer portal where they can manage their subscription.

  • Subscribers can cancel or pause their magazine subscription at any time.
  • Subscribers can also update their shipping address and payment method.
  • Subscribers also can see order history and billing dates. 

Email Notifications for Magazine Subscriptions

Several email notifications get sent out with Ongoing.

When customers first order the magazine subscription, they’ll get a welcome email with a link to their customer portal.

You can customize this email template, and we recommend telling customers your custom delivery dates so they can know when to expect deliveries. You can also mention the first delivery will arrive asap.

How do we know which SKU to ship?

We recommend creating a new product called something like “Yearly Magazine Subscription” (with one SKU).

Ongoing would generate orders automatically based on the custom delivery dates you enter.

 When the order is generated on that specific fulfillment date, we have “order tags” so you can segment the magazine subscription orders from the rest of your orders. 

This is great because you can keep your back issues as one-time purchases on your store, with their multiple SKUs, so if people want to buy a one-off magazine, they still can.

Does this work for subscription boxes?

Yes, of course! If you have a seasonal product or seasonal subscription box, this is the perfect feature to help you create a custom delivery schedule. 

Does this work on digital magazine subscriptions?

Yes. Ongoing can work for digital magazine subscriptions, but here are a few things to keep in mind. 

The merchant’s responsibility will be to send the digital magazine to their customer. 

Since it’s not a physical product, there won’t be any shipping needed. So how do you accomplish this? There are a couple of apps available on Shopify that allow for digital files to be sent out to customers. 

You can set up a digital magazine subscription by using a cloud service like DropBox or Google Drive and sending out that link to the customer in a welcome email where they can access the magazine. 

We offer customer tagging, which can help you segment your customers as active subscribers, and if they stop paying, this customer tag falls off, which is super helpful.

How much does the Custom Fulfillment Dates feature cost?

The custom delivery dates feature for subscriptions is available by giving our team a call so we can unlock this advanced feature for you.

Get in touch with us for a special promo price.

How can I use Custom Fulfillment Dates for my Magazine Subscription? 

This custom delivery date feature is available only on Ongoing Subscriptions, which is the best subscription app on the Shopify app store. 

We are an All-USA company located in California and are an approved subscription app for Shopify.

We have the best customer service and can’t wait to wow you! 

So feel free to get in touch, send us a message, and let us know what kind of magazine subscription you have in mind, so we can help get you all set up.

The Benefits of Using a Subscription service for your Printed Magazine

If you are using manual processes, that’s the past. We want you to never look at spreadsheets again if you use them.

Ongoing is here with an automated solution that can help solve your problem of offering a printed magazine subscription on your Shopify store.

With automatic payments, order creation, and email notifications… you’ll have your magazine subscription running on auto-pilot while you sleep. 

Can I transfer over my subscribers to Ongoing? 

Yes, we offer free migrations.

First, we can discuss where the subscribers are coming from, which will help us determine if they are eligible to be transferred over. If you are using another Shopify subscription app or payment gateway like Stripe, yes we can programmatically move them over.

If you are using a manual process, we can help you bring them over with “pre-filled carts.” 

For your current customers who have purchased a magazine from you in the past, we can send out an email to them programmatically (it will be from you), and it can say you launched a subscription with auto-pay, and if they click the link, they can sign up. The link will take them to the cart page on your store, and they already have the magazine subscription product in their cart, so all they have to do is enter their credit card once to checkout. It has a great conversion rate.

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