What are Subscription Plans? Shopify Subscriptions 101 Guide

what are subscription plans shopify

Written by Adriana Pope

July 8, 2021

Subscription plans are the bread and butter of subscriptions. They offer customers more ways to purchase a product. Not every one wants to buy a product only once.

In this modern world, people want convenience and subscriptions are growing more and more popular everyday. Subscription plans lets your customers place a recurring order, which saves them a trip to the store or a visit to your site.

Having subscription plans on your products lets your customers find a delivery frequency and a payment structure that’s right for them.

An example of a subscription plan is “Monthly Delivery” which has monthly billing baked into it. Subscription plans are how you can offer an arrangement to your customers. You mail them a product, they pay you money. Or you give them a service or access to content, and they get charged accordingly.

You can think of them as a sort of contract between you (the merchant) and your customer (the subscriber).

We’re going to deep dive into what subscription plans are, plus how you can set them up and use them on your own store.

Topics covered:

  • What is a subscription plan?
  • What does a subscription plan look like?
  • How do you offer subscription plans on Shopify?
  • How do you create subscriptions plans on Shopify?
  • Can merchants choose the intervals for subscription plans?
  • What are subscription plan names?
  • What is a subscription plan policy?
  • What is a Pay per Delivery Subscription Plan?
  • What is a PrePaid Subscription Plan?
  • Subscription Plan Examples
  • When does a Subscription Plan end?

What is a subscription plan?

A subscription plan is an arrangement between the customer and you (the merchant) on how they will be charged on a recurring basis for a product or service.

Okay that sounds like a mouthful, so let’s unpack it a bit.

If I were selling coffee on my online shop, I could offer subscription plans such as “Weekly delivery”, “monthly delivery”, and “quarterly delivery”.

These subscription plans show the customer made a decision to sign up for a product or service on a recurring basis and is agreeing to be charged with Autopay.

As a merchant, you are telling the customer what you plan to do. For example, if you subscribe to our weekly subscription, we will mail you coffee every week, and charge you automatically every week.

Subscription plans tell your customer vital information like how often the product will ship, and how often the customer will be charged.

Subscription plans work for physical products as well as digital products.

ongoing subscription plans shopify

What does a subscription plan look like?

A subscription plan usually looks like a drop down menu on a product page.


Customers can click an option they like, that fits their needs like shipping and billing preferences.

A subscription plan can offer a discount, this is called a subscription discount.

When the customer selects an option, the price at the top should change to reflect the price they will pay.

How do you offer subscription plans on Shopify?

To offer a subscription plan on Shopify to your customers, you’ll need to use a Subscriptions app. We recommend Ongoing Subscriptions.

This app lets you turn any product into a subscription product with one click.

It is also made specifically for Shopify stores so all the features are native and work seamlessly.

By using an app like Ongoing, you can easily create and offer subscription plans on any product or variant.

Ongoing lets you create an unlimited amount of subscription products and offer your customers more ways to purchase your products.

How do you create subscriptions plans on Shopify?

To create a subscription plan, you can use an app like Ongoing.

First you will need to create a subscription group.

A subscription group is a collection of plans and products.

Let’s say we are creating a Cookie Box subscription .

I would name my subscription group “cookie box subscription” and then add a couple plans.

The first subscription plan will be delivery every (1) month and billing every (1) month. 5% discount.

The third subscription plan will be delivery every 3 months and billing every 3 months. 10% discount.

The second subscription plan will be delivery twice per month so every 2 weeks, and billing every 2 weeks. 15% discount

I will go ahead and add my product that I want to become a subscription product.

And click Save.

This will create my subscription group with all my plans. If I want another product to have those plans available on them, I can just add that product to this group.

Can merchants choose the intervals for subscription plans?

Yes.

Merchants can control the intervals of both the delivery frequency and the billing frequency they want to offer.

You can choose any interval you want such as every week, every month, twice a month, every 2 months, every 3 months, every 6 months, every year.

For example, a merchant can decide to do pay per delivery.

This is when the customer pays every time they receive an item.

Or the merchant can opt for a prepaid subscription plan.

This is when the customer pays upfront for goods and services.

What are subscription plan names?

How you name your subscription plan is very important.

A subscription plan should be super clear, so your customer knows exactly what to expect when they click Add to Cart.

If subscription plans are unclear, this can result in angry customers who are being charged more often than they expected, or getting a product too frequently.

It should clearly state what type of subscription your customer is signing up. We recommend using this simple subscription plan template below.

{ Delivery Frequency } / { Billing Frequency } / { Discount }

Example: Monthly Delivery / Monthly Billing – 10% Off Discount

You want your customers to feel comfortable, that they know what they are purchasing so they can complete the checkout successfully.

It’s not good to be vague or confusing. Aim for clarity.

What is a subscription plan policy?

A subscription plan policy is a legal policy you can create on Shopify which tells your customers what your shop policies are in regards to returns and refunds.

Luckily for you, Shopify has a subscription policy template which we recommend using it.

This is an easy way to get set up with a subscription policy and get started. It’s easy to just use this template when you’re first getting started (especially if you’re just a small shop).

You can always update it and customize it for your shop later.

What is a Pay per Delivery Subscription Plan?

Pay per delivery is when a customer pays for a product every time it’s delivered.

This can be an ongoing subscription, so it will only end if the subscriber cancels.

Pay per delivery is common for subscription plans because the customer can pay a smaller amount of money and it’s spaced out.

What is a PrePaid Subscription Plan?

A PrePaid subscription plan is when a customer agrees to pay upfront for the subscription.

Types of Subscription Plans {Examples}

I’m going to list some example subscription plans below so you can see what types there are. You can make your own custom subscription plan using Ongoing Subscriptions app for Shopify.

Pay Per Delivery Subscription Plans

Weekly Delivery Subscription Plan

  • Customer gets a product delivered on a weekly basis
  • Customer charged every week
  • Automatic recurring billing

Monthly Delivery Subscription Plan

  • Customer gets a product delivered on a monthly basis
  • Customer charged every month
  • Automatic recurring billing

Bi-Monthly Subscription Plan

  • Customer gets a product delivered twice a month
  • Customer gets charged a twice a month
  • Automatic recurring billing

Quarterly Subscription Plan

  • Customer gets a product delivered every three months
  • Customer charged every 3 months
  • Automatic recurring billing

Annual Subscription Plan

  • Customer gets a product delivered every year
  • Customer charged once a year
  • Automatic recurring billing

Prepaid Subscription Plans

3 Months Prepaid Subscription

  • (Monthly Delivery / Billing Every 3 months)
  • Merchant mails product every month to the customer
  • Customer charged every 3 months
  • Customer pays 3 months upfront
  • Automatic recurring billing

6 Months Prepaid Subscription

  • (Monthly Delivery / Billing Every 6 months)
  • Merchant mails product every month
  • Customer charged every 6 months
  • Customer pays 6 months upfront
  • Automatic recurring billing

12 Months Prepaid Subscription

  • (Monthly Delivery / Billing Every 12 months)
  • Merchant mails product every month to the customer
  • Customer charged once a year
  • Customer pays one year upfront
  • Automatic recurring billing

Quarterly Prepaid Subscription (Quarterly Delivery)

  • Quarterly Delivery / Quarterly Prepaid Billing
  • Merchant mails product every 3 months to the customer
  • Customer charged once every 3 months
  • Customer pays upfront for 3 months
  • Automatic recurring billing

Bi-Annual Prepaid Subscription ( Delivery Every 6 months )

  • Bi-Annual Delivery / Bi-Annual Prepaid Billing
  • Merchant mails product every 6 months to the customer
  • Customer charged once every 6 months
  • Customer pays upfront for 6 months
  • Automatic recurring billing

Annual Prepaid Subscription (Delivery Every Year)

  • Annual Delivery / Annual Prepaid Billing
  • Merchant mails product every 12 months to the customer
  • Customer charged once every 12 months
  • Customer pays upfront for 12 months
  • Automatic recurring billing

When does a Subscription Plan end?

Yes, a subscription plan can end. Let’s explore how.

With ongoing subscriptions, the subscription will only end if the customer cancels their subscription.

With a gift subscription, a subscription plan stops billing the customer after it ends.

If the customer cancels or pauses their subscription, this will stop the automatic recurring billing.

However there is a such thing as gift subscriptions which do indeed end.

For example, if a customer signs up for a 3 month gift subscription and wants it to end in 3 months, they can make this happen.

This is known as maximum billing cycles and can be set up so that after a certain amount of time, the subscription just ends. The customer will no longer be charged.

You May Also Like…

Best Subscription Software 2021

Best Subscription Software 2021

Subscription Software Built for Shopify  The subscription software by Ongoing was designed for Shopify stores....

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *